Blast from the past: 2008 Interview with Dawid Mocke!

Tuesday, 25 April 2023 11:50 | Written by  Rob Mousley & Joe Glickman
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Dawid at Whittle Rock during a False Bay crossing 9 Feb 2008 Dawid at Whittle Rock during a False Bay crossing 9 Feb 2008

Last Friday, however, I paddled with Dawid on a windless autumn evening in Cape Town. Cruising from Fish Hoek to Muizenberg, we paddled together, stopping at all the coves to surf a few waves. In short, the operative word was "fun". This was a different Dawid - off duty - and, well, I've never paddled with anyone so noisy before. Whistling, singing, shouting to folks on shore - yahooing as he caught a wave. Heading home at dusk we crept up behind a group of seals lazing on the surface. Dawid began barking like a five-year-old paid by the bark...until the bewildered seals rolled their eyes and moved on. Clearly, it was a different view of a man who earns his daily bread in a boat. Dawid trains and competes as hard as anyone on the circuit but to see how much he loves to paddle simply for the sake of paddling - that was so uplifting.

But make no mistake: Mocke is hardcore. He and his wife Nikki are professional paddlers - she's qualified in K4 for the upcoming Beijing Olympics.  I asked him how they survived in a sport that's not noted for major sponsorship (yet).

 

Dawid Mocke Bay Crossing 2008

Dawid and the Bay Crossing gang 9 Feb 2008

You and Nikki opened your own shop late last year, the Paddling Centre in Fish Hoek.  How's it going?

The Paddling Centre is going really well.  We have been open now since October and have been blown away by the support of the paddling community.  We are really enjoying learning about business and people, it's great to be able to give a customer  "educated advice" and know that they are buying exactly what they need. 

With Surfski School, the shop gives you a 3rd revenue stream (the increasing amount of prize money in the big races is a third).  Do feel you have enough there to make a viable career out of surfski paddling?

We actually have 4 revenue streams - we are trying to get the MOCKE brand going as well - so things are busy!  But to answer the question there is definitely a career out there in Surfski paddling... It is growing really fast and there are lots of exciting things happening.  Europe are starting to jump on the wave in a big way now too...

Describe your paddling week - how often do you get on the water, what do you do? 

It is tricky to describe because it changes a lot depending on the time of the year etc. But a general guide for me looks like this.

Day

AM

PM

Mon

Paddle

Paddle

Tue

Run and gym/swim

Paddle (time trial)

Wed

Paddle

Paddle

Thu

Run and gym/swim

Paddle

Fri

Paddle

Off or Paddle

Sat

Surfski School or a long paddle

Off

Sun

OFF or downwind if the wind is right

Do you cross-train?  Running/Gym/Swimming?  What else?

Yes, definitely, running and gym are very important and coming from a swimming background, swimming is a great way to keep strong and fit.  We do a small bit of mountain biking too.

How's your training for Molokai gone?  Do you taper down?  When?

It has gone very well.  Last year I suffered a bit with the distance of the race... it was my longest paddle ever!  But this time I have really done my homework, so I feel ready for flat, downwind or headwind! I will stop doing such long distance from now (End April) and keep ticking over and doing downwinds till the race.

What's different about the training you do for Molokai compared with say, the upcoming World Cup race in Durban?

The Biggest difference with the Molokai to the other races is that you are in open water and the distance...Having no land around you and open seas brings in a whole other element.... The World Cup in Durbs is a much shorter race... It's a sprint really!

Nikki is going to Beijing in October?  Are you going too (to support her)?

The Olympics are in August, they start on the 8th of the 8th 2008 at 8:08... And yes, I am definitely going to support Nix.  We are a team and I have been through all of the ups and downs with her on the Olympic road.  It has been a tough long road and I am so proud of her, I want to be there to support her for sure!

Who do you think your main competition at Molokai is?  Are there any paddlers from Australia who really concern you?

Every athlete out there is a competition... Anyone could win this race... its long and technical...

It appears that you often take off at the beginning of the race (Cape Point 2005, Dubai, SA World Cup 2006) and try to drop the other guys.  Is that true?  If so, will you do the same at Molokai where it seems that in downwind years it's important to keep an eye on the other guys so that they don't take a different line and get an advantage?

Yes, I have been known to do that... like I said, I have trained really hard for Molokai and don't like following people... You can't win a race if you are following... But Molokai is different animal, so, maybe my tactics will be different!

Dawid Mocke, Jan 2008
Outrageous fun - classic Millers Run conditions at Roman Rock lighthouse

(For a larger version of this stunning pic, click here)

Where do you think Surfski paddling is going?  How important do you think the World Series initiative is - what do you think we should be doing with it?

I think Surfski paddling is going places.  It is growing internationally very quickly.  I think the World Series is great, it gives EVERY paddler out there a chance to be ranked and formalizing it makes sponsorship and growth easier.  

How important is it to you to win the World Series overall?

It is a lovely thing to say but there is no money incentive so I suppose from a financial point of view it is better to focus on winning a race rather than the series.  If I was focused on the series I would definitely have gone to Puerto Rico, but because there is no real incentive to win the series (besides bragging rights) I'll be focused more on the bigger races.

Which have been your sweetest wins?  Which are you most proud of?

Dubai Shamaal 2007.  There was a lot of hype before, all the top guys were there, and I had a terrible start... I had to dig deep and focus to win that one...Plus winning the biggest prize money purse in SS paddling ever was fantastic.

 Then the Dolphin Coast last year was also super sweet!  Winning a race in typical KZN conditions was great, and to do it with my brother made it special.

You've trained something like 1,700 paddlers from beginner through to "Ocean Expert" in Cape Town alone.  What happens to these guys?  Do they go onto racing?  Do they drop out?  Do they just paddle socially?  And how do we bridge the gap between beginners and participation in races like the Discovery Men's Health Series?

That is the beauty of Surfski paddling. It is limitless and anyone can do it.  You can paddle throughout the year in any conditions for any reason.  Health, social, race practice etc.

A lot of our paddlers go through the ABC course and end up in the Ocean Expert class racing and training hard. But a lot of the Surfski School students are also doing it for social and fitness and aren't too interested in racing.  They are definitely given the opportunity and knowledge to race.

You turned 30 this year; how much longer do you think you'll be at your peak?  Do you think Oscar at 45 is over the hill?

Age is just a number... I am just starting out!  That is the beauty of Surfski paddling, age brings experience... So Oscar is a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Pick the top 5 paddlers at Molokai 2008!

Check the top 3 in the World Series rankings [Editor: that's Oscar Chalupsky, Lewis Laughlin, Dawid Mocke] and add Hank McGregor and Tim Jacobs.  But not in that order!  (Oh, and of course there's always the Dean Gardiner factor!)

Your faith is clearly important to you - how much does it help your paddling?

I firmly believe that my purpose in life is to glorify God through paddling.  So being a Christian is the reason I paddle.  It is my gift and talent that I use to the best of my ability to do my purpose here on earth.  Besides my faith being the reason I paddle it helps me also to keep things in perspective... I am not alive to win races and be a hero...there is so much more to it than that.  My existence is not based on my performance.  It is about meeting people, making real friends, changing lives and living on Purpose.

Dawid Mocke - January 2008
Dawid dicing with the reef at Roman Rock - January 2008

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