Racing in the Arctic: Sean Rice's take on the ASKR

Thursday, 09 August 2012 10:41 | Written by  Sean Rice
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Jasper Mocke wins the 2012 ASKR Surfski race Jasper Mocke wins the 2012 ASKR Surfski race

26 July was show-down day. I knew all along Jasper was the main man to mark. I’ve trained and raced against him more than enough times to know he is a fantastic paddler and I should come more than prepared and be ready to hurt when lining up next to him at any race.

Big Races...

I do a lot of International Surfski Races every year. Some are big (Durban World Cup, Hong Kong Dragon Run, Cape Point Challenge etc) with 200+ paddlers lining up where literally any 1 of 10 or more of the top dogs could have a realistic chance of winning - and some are smaller ones like the ASKR.

Now the thing with the big ones is that, because there are just so many guys going for the win and so many different variables, I almost feel a little less pressure.  As Emily my girlfriend always says, “Save your stress for the things you can actually control”. Not that I feel relaxed exactly, but I know the when the race starts anything can happen and there's no point getting all worked up about it.  

...and Little Races

With the smaller man-on-man races there's a lot more control by each paddler in the race and if you make just one mistake the other guy WILL notice and most probably take advantage. Even though there might only be 2 or 3 elite paddlers in the mix I often find these races a lot more gruelling. It sounds weird but it’s just how my mind works I guess.

The 2012 ASKR - a Four-man Duel

Yesterday was a 4 man duel: Dane Sloss (Aus), Joep Van Bakel (NED), Jasper (SA) and myself (SA). To get to the race start we all loaded our boats and bodies onto a big recue vessel for the 45min boat ride 16km to the south of Skipnes. The nice thing about this was the fact that we all got to check out what the wind and runs were doing along the course.

ASKR ship

The rescue vessel - but look at the ominous weather behind the ship...

The race started at 1pm. I went out hard to try and get a gap. I managed to open up about 80m on the others in the first 4km. I really had my head down pulling anything I could out of each bump. The runs we had were left over from the storms we had had for the previous 3 days with a light wind coming over our left shoulder.

(For the guys back home it was similar to paddling from Hout bay to Camps bay with a light wind.)  Runs were coming a little side-on with no resting on the runs. I had got into a good rhythm and noticed Jasper quite far in on my right (way too far right I thought). 

Taking the gap

We had to go around a rocky point before heading down the last 9km to the finish and I was on what I thought was the “Tiger Line”. What I didn’t know was that Jasper had noticed a small gap through the rocks on the trip to the start and before I could react he was through it and had made 150m on me.  The last 9km were painful. I caught up to within 50m but he had his ears tucked back and I had no chance to close the gap anymore.

Sean Rice

Sean Rice attempts to catch Jasper Mocke at the end of the 2012 ASKR


I am disappointed about my result, but I knew it was going to be a tough race.

With such a short distance you just can’t afford to make any mistakes. Jasper showed his class and deserved every bit of the win. I look forward to round 2 next year!

SA Paddlers at ASKR

Saffas in the far north: Thea vd Westhuizen, Sean Rice and Jasper Mocke


 Men (17.3km)
1 Jasper Mocke South Africa 01:05:10
2 Sean Rice South Africa 01:05:38
3 Dane Sloss Australia 01:09:30
4 Joep van Bakel Netherlands 01:12:11
5 Fredrik Ness Norway 01:18:07
6 Jim Ness Norway 01:25:32
 Women (10km)
1 Chipo Tendeland Norway 00:54:14
2 Thea vd Westhuizen South Africa 01:00:03
 Doubles (17.3km)
1 Eirik Bentzen/Jacob Norway 01:11:28

[Editor: last weekend Sean Rice paddled an extremely gutsy race to work his way up from 5th to 2nd place in the US Surfski Champs in San Francisco, beating Jasper Mocke but just failing to catch current Oceanpaddler World Rankings #1 Dawid Mocke.  I predict we'll see a lot more of Sean in the years to come!

Sean paddles out of Fish Hoek Surflifesaving Club in Cape Town South Africa, and is sponsored by Think Kayaks and usually takes the Think Uno Max as his weapon of choice.


The Arctic Sea Kayak Race is one of the longest-running events in sea kayaking and comprises a week long sea kayak camp in Northern Norway.  Two years ago Eirik Veras Larsen (who just yesterday took his second Olympic gold medal in the 1000m K1) suggested to the ASKR organisers that they should include a surfski race as part of the event.  Sean Rice won the event in 2009 and 2010 (when he beat Surfski World Champion Dawid Mocke).

For more on Sean Rice, see his facebook pages on:


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