South Africans Mocke and Nixon win in the Canary Islands

Monday, 19 February 2018 16:59 | Written by 
Rate this item
(1 Vote)
And they're away...  Atlantic Ocean Race 2018... And they're away... Atlantic Ocean Race 2018...

"The Europeans have caught on," laughed Jasper Mocke. "We used to be much quicker than them at the start, but we had six or seven boats dicing in a sprint to the first turn buoy!"

2018 saw the second running of The Atlantic Ocean Surfski race on the island of Lanzarote - one of the Canary Islands. "This race is an undiscovered gem for me," said Mocke. "Aside from the event itself, there's so much to do - and it's affordable, even for South Africans! Perfect place to bring your family."

The Course

The race has a unique 3-part course comprising:

  1. Garita Beach, Arrieta to Las Cucharas Beach, Costa Teguise: 17km
  2. Las Cucharas Beach to Reducto Beach, Arrecife : 10km
  3. Reducto Beach to Grande Beach, Puerto del Carmen: 13km

The start times were scheduled for 09h30, 11h45 and 15h30 with cut-off times for the first and second legs of 50min and 30min from the winner of each leg.


And where exactly are the Canary Islands???

Canary Islands

Unseasonal Weather

The paddlers were met with unseasonal wind and swell, which meant that the first leg of the race was always in doubt.

"I totally understand why they had to cancel," said defending champion Angie le Roux (France). "Many European paddlers haven't had the experience to know when the conditions are too difficult; when they go to a race, they expect to paddle.  They don't know their own limits."

"The coastline for that first leg is all rocks and cliffs," added Jasper Mocke. "If anyone were to swim there, there's no place to land. There would be big admin! The risk for the organisers is that if something bad happened, the race would be cancelled altogether by the authorities."

When the organisers reviewed conditions for the second leg, that too had to be cancelled. "When we walked down to the beach, it looked mean," said Mocke. "The race organisers made the right call to can it."

And so the race was reduced to the last 13km leg only.

Wealth of European Talent

Lined up with South Africans Mocke and defending champion Sean Rice, was a host of Europe's top surfski talent including Esteban Medina Ojeda (Spain), Valentin Henot (France), Gordan Harbrecht (Germany), Daniel Sanchez Viloria (Spain), Benoît Le Roux (France), Ignacio Soler Fabre (Spain) and more.

In the women's race, South African Hayley Nixon was on her first visit to the Canary Islands. "This place is just amazing," she said. "As good as Mauritius, such a good vibe…!

"It's really ideal for an event," she added. "Aside from all the stuff to do and see, it's perfect for paddling. They've got proper downwind of course, but they've also got sheltered places to paddle if you want to do interval training, or if you want to hold a clinic."

Up against Nixon were defending champion Angie le Roux (France), Amaia Osaba Olaberri (Spain) and Judit Vergés Xifra (Spain) and many other European women paddlers.

"Downwind racing as a woman in Europe is really great," said Le Roux. "It used to be that I'd finish 5min ahead, but now it has changed completely, and every race is tight. There are half a dozen women who could win any race."

Tactical Race

"It was a little like a Milnerton to Big Bay run in Cape Town," said Mocke. "The start was sheltered, and you had to decide whether to angle out to sea to reach the bigger waves, quicker, or to take a more direct line down the coast."

The start

When the start gun sounded a tight pack of around 7 boats sprinted out to the turn buoy.

"You really have to push over the smaller runs near the start," said Mocke. "Sean and I managed to squeeze away. It didn't require more skill, I think we were just stronger."

As the paddlers passed a buoy, Rice noticed that it was being pushed towards them by a strong current.

"The tides were massive because of the super-moon," said Mocke. "Perhaps that was partly why the weather was so extreme."

By mid-race the paddlers were working a combination of wind swell and ocean swell and the conditions became more technically demanding. "The wind chop was easy to catch, but it was relatively slow," said Mocke. "I'd get onto the wind swell, speed up, catch my breath, and then put in an interval to get the bigger, faster ocean swells."

Wave by wave, Mocke built up a lead of 100-200m and in the last 3-4km, the sea flattened out, making it extremely difficult for the following racers to make up time and he ended up taking first place from Sean Rice by just over half a minute.


Jasper Mocke commented that the regular Friday Night "Seadog" races at his home club in Fish Hoek, Cape Town, were a bonus for his training. "It's hard to get the sharpness if you're not racing regularly," he said.  (The Seadog Series races take place every Friday night and comprise a hectic 5 lap, 7km course around buoys in Fish Hoek Bay.  The series motto is "Never Cancelled" - no matter what the weather.)  

Women's Race

In the women's race, Hayley Nixon dominated from beginning to end. "Hayley is so strong," said Angie Le Roux. "She was in front from the start."

But the race for second place was neck-and-neck between the Frenchwoman and the two Spaniards.

"We started in sheltered water," said Le Roux, "and then there was a small, physical downwind, had to pull over it. Then a nice technical downwind - and the final few km were flat and physical!"

In the final sprint, Le Roux just managed to keep in front of Olaberri and Xifra, but a mere three seconds separated the women.

Le Roux was happy with the result. "This event is very early in the season for us," she explained. "So, it's quite difficult to train for it."


The event prize money was identical for both men and women.

2021 World Championships?

Rumour has it the organisers are bidding for the 2021 ICF Ocean Racing World Championships.

"They need to have a contingency plan for the weather," said Mocke, "but a combination of the second and third legs would give them an ideal course."

Summary Results

(Click here for the full results)

  1. Jasper Mocke (RSA): 44:12
  2. Sean Rice (RSA): 44:53
  3. Esteban Medina Ojeda (ESP): 45:28
  4. Valentin Henot (FRA): 45:52
  5. Gordan Harbrecht (GER): 45:58


  1. Hayley Nixon (RSA): 50:48
  2. Angie Le Roux (FRA): 53:55
  3. Amaia Osaba Olaberri (ESP): 53:55
  4. Judit Vergés Xifra (ESP): 53:56

Latest Forum Topics

  • No posts to display.