Dawid's Days

Wednesday, 05 December 2007 17:33 | Written by  Dean Gardiner
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The last two events have seen freakish performances by Dawid Mocke. (Hence the name of this report) He has walked away with $26k US from the last two races and if he continues his good form will have well over 30k US to add to his wife's Olympic campaign after this weeks Perth event. He is the man to beat at the moment and many will be throwing everything they have at him in this final major event of the year.

Dawid Mocke Dragon Run
Dawid takes the Dragon Run Hotspot (Pic: Graham Uden)

Over the last couple of weeks I have been fortunate to have been able to take part in a couple of new events on the paddling calendar. While Australia, SA, NZ, Tahiti and Hawaii have been the traditional hotspots for ocean paddling, Dubai and Hong Kong have left an indelible mark on the psyche of paddlers that took part in these events.

As I enter the twilight years of my ocean paddling lifespan I am in a fortunate position. I get to witness the expansion of the sport and get to take part in events where I am not right at the pointy end of the field, but not too far from it.

It is from this perspective that I get to see some of the great races unfold. While I would still like to think of myself as competitive, realistically I am making up the top 5-10 numbers and may if conditions suit pull off a big one that gets me on the dais.

These last two events have been fantastic for our sport both for competitors and anyone with the slightest interest in surf ski paddling. The coverage from this website has lifted the sport and given exposure at a global level never before seen by the people that have helped grow the sport over the last 20 years or so, for that many of us are extremely grateful.

While I could talk all day about these new exciting times it is the last two events that I would like to talk about from someone that gets to see the races from a place many others don't. That is almost at the front. 

Hong Kong

The first of the two was held in Hong Kong.  For those that have never been to HK before it is an amazing place. For Lewis Laughlin it is especially amazing as you can imagine coming from his island paradise to the lights, sounds, smells and people that make up this place.

What many people don't know is that HK and surrounds have some beautiful beaches and bays that are paddled and explored by quite a large contingent of surf ski paddlers.

One of these was Clearwater Bay which was the start point for our race over there. Only a short drive from the center of bustling Kowloon (which is the geographical start of the Chinese mainland) this little bay is surrounded by steep mountains with very little development making you feel like you are more than just a few kilometers from the masses of humanity just over the hill.

Dawid Mocke Dragon Run
Dawid Mocke leading the 2007 Dragon Run (Pic: Graham Uden)

The race started offshore with Australia's Kenny Wallace taking an early lead.  Oscar, Bevan, Michael "Gollum" Baker and I were in a group to the right with Dawid on Kenny's tail. As the Fenn Hotspot drew near Dawid put on a burst to overtake Kenny and put a nice 1k US into his back pocket.


After turning the buoy we were heading downwind/swell which was great but what made it better was the other movement from backwash of the cliffs and wash from the large amount of boat traffic on the course. 

The course took us from the Kowloon side heading south across the entrance to HK Harbour then around the bottom of HK island.

Michael Baker and Lewis Laughlin 2007 Dragon Run
Michael Baker dicing with Lewis Laughlin (Pic: Graham Uden)

With all that swell and movement is was a very pleasurable event. Dawid was holding his lead throughout the race although I had drawn up level on his inside; Oscar and Lewis were slightly behind with Kenny, Bevan Manson and Michael "Gollum" Baker a little further back. 

As we drew into the lee of HK the swell and chop suddenly disintegrated. At this point Dawid took off and put about a 200 meters into the rest of us. Without boring you too much about the rest of the race Dawid hung on to win comfortably, Lewis took over 2nd and Oscar 3rd. I managed to hold off a fast finishing Kenny Wallace for 4th.

Dawid had paddled a great race and in the end I think he was pretty comfortable.

Well organized event 

The event was well organized and I think with a little adjustment (remove the flat section) will become one of the great events on the calendar. Most of the course is first class with enough ocean movement and some small technical sections of downwind paddling.

The local contingent has some great paddlers amongst them with potential for more good ones as the sport grows in this region. The hospitality from the local crew was fantastic. I have always had a blast when I go to HK and paddle with these guys and recommend that you add this race to your overseas trips next year


Onto Dubai.

Having never been to Dubai before I did not know to expect. I had read a fair bit of banter on this site from the Dubai crew and kind of liked the enthusiasm that their comments exuded

It is pretty obvious to the readers that this bunch had gone to great lengths to make this race work. The promotion of the event was the "loudest" out of any event to date and of course the prize money was the most that we have seen so far in the sport.

Dawid Mocke Ken Wallace Dubai Shamaal 2007
Dawid shows Ken Wallance where the bung goes (Pic: Wouter Kingma)

With the combination of the above, one of the best fields ever assembled had made the trip and a great race was on the cards.

Leading into the event there were a few that have stood out and were definitely starting as favorites. The obvious ones were Hank, Dawid and Tim Jacobs who had dominated races around Sydney over the last couple of months

Also looking good were the usuals, Lewis, Oscar, Herman, Barry and Daryl Bartho. The unknowns were Clint Pretorius who was recovering from a busted arm and Bevan Manson who has been clocking up some good results over the last few months.

Prior to the event we had been promised a downwinder. Unfortunately some of the local constabulary weren't too keen on having us barged out to sea, so an out-and-back course was devised to try and capture as much downwind as possible. Not happy Jan

We did get the awesome downwinder; problem was we had to complete a very nasty 8k upwind to get to the point to do the 12 k downwind. Three "Fenn Hotspots" made the going out even tougher as those fast little buggers upfront would surge ahead leaving the rest of us in their wake.

Hank McGregor took out the 3 Fenn Hotspots picking up a cool 3k US for his efforts. One might argue that this cost him the race but I would argue differently.

Best on ground

At the start of the race I was watching Dawid Mocke helping out Kenny Wallace with the bung in his boat. I turned to Greg Barton who was next to me and suggested that Dawid should probably turn his boat around. Problem was, while helping Kenny out Dawid was facing the wrong way and drifting back into the field. The 5 minute gun didn't really mean 5 minutes and the next gun that went shortly after was the actual start. 

So Dawid was in a bit of a dilemma you might say. Pointing backwards drifting away from the course having to wait for the entire field to pass before being able to turn his boat around and try and catch the front runners.

Dawid Mocke Shamaal 2007
Dawid Mocke catching up (Pic: Wouter Kingma)

Meanwhile sitting comfortable around the 10s I was trying to find every little bit of assistance I could. I sat on Kenny for a while but he was too fast. I sat on Bevan for a while but he was too fast, I watched Dawid go past and didn't even try to sit on him.

I sat on Gollum for a while but he was too fast and I fell off, literally. I sat on Brett B for a while but he was too fast. After contemplating an earlier than expected retirement from the race (and the sport) local Bulgarian Boyan Zlaterov came up to me and I sat on him till the buoy. Through the week I had given what I hope was helpful advice to Boyan on how to ride runs. Because of this I think he was paddling a little bit slower to allow me to hang on. 

With 200 meters till the turn I watched the first of the inbounds slide down a run and starting heading back to shore Dawid had caught the leaders and was dicing with Hank and Tim with the two Chalupskys and Daryl B hot on their tail. "Should catch them," thought the part of brain that still thinks I'm pretty good.

"Yeah right!" said the part of my brain that knows.

Turning the can I did peg a couple back but not as many as Clint Pretorius who flew past me like I was standing still. That part of brain said "He can't do that" and I battled him for a while. The real part of my brain said "Mate he's done it, give it a rest you old fat fool"

So in summary the outbound part of the race gave me little pleasure, the inbound was a whole load of fun. In fact I am prepared to say that had we been able to race the entire course downwind it would have gone down as one of the all time races.  The runs were fat and juicy with plenty of different angles. For me it seemed the water was moving against the faces of the runs making them even steeper..

Dawid - standout

Dawid took it a step up over the last couple of weeks by grabbing these events and making them his. He is the standout at the moment which was proven by giving a class field such a big start and coming back and taking the win. It was great to see some of the younger guys starting to take charge in the runs and what was especially good to see was the huge local crew take on conditions well out of their normal comfort zone.

Dawid Mocke Shamaal 2007
Dawid wins the 2007 Dubai Shamaal (Pic: Alain Jaques)

Well done to Katie Pocock who once again proved her dominance of Surf Ski paddling in the ladies division. (I think I just pipped her)

The organization of the event lived up to its hype which all fares well for the future. Who would have thought when I first started doing these races that I would get travel to such places to partake in such awesome events. 

We head to Perth this week and judging by hourly glances at windguru it looks set to be a bit of a cracker. At this stage 17-20 knots, 3 meter swell and with the exception of Hank the whole top 14 from Dubai plus a host of Aussie guys.

Dean Gardiner Dubai Shamaal 2007
Dean Gardiner (Pic: Alain Jaques)

Check out the updates on this site.

Once again to all those that helped out the foreign contingents in both HK and Dubai a big thanks  from all of us you guys are awesome and really help to make these events as special as they are..


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