Book Review: SURFSKI with the Pros

Sunday, 27 November 2011 18:49 | Written by 
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Transcribe the accumulated wisdom of two of the best surfski paddlers in the world, add some truly stunning photographs, and in case that’s not enough, make things even more clear with beautifully executed diagrams.  That’s SURFSKI with the Pros in a nutshell.

Words and Images

The book is written by Kevin Brunette in association with Dawid and Nikki Mocke.  Kevin describes himself as a “serious recreational paddler” and has been paddling with the Surfski School training groups longer than almost anyone else.  He’s a technical author and his writing style reflects his engineering background: the concepts are described clearly and simply, with little embellishment.

The book is worth buying for the photos alone.  It’s packed with stunning full color images taken by Jean Tresfon, himself a keen paddler.  (For more of his work, check out

Surfski with the Pros

Dawid Mocke, showing how it's done in fabulous downwind conditions

Surfski with the Pros

Dawid and Nikki paddle past the Roman Rock lighthouse in False Bay, Cape Town.  Roman Rock is the half way point on the infamous Miller's Run

Mocke Magic

The book is essentially a distillation of the Mocke approach to teaching surfski paddling.

Dawid and Nikki Mocke have been running their Surfski School for 8 years and have introduced over four thousand people to the sport in Cape Town alone*.  Dawid has been the de-facto Surfski World Champion for the last three years, while Nikki has extensive sprint experience (culminating in a 7th place at the Beijing Olympics in the South African women’s 1000m K4 team) to add to her own surfski achievements (among them World Champion in 2006 and 2010).

Most importantly though, the Mocke’s have an absolute passion for paddling and for passing on their knowledge – and this shines through, throughout the book.


While SURFSKI with the Pros is aimed at the beginner to intermediate level paddler, more advanced paddlers will also find useful tidbits.

The first half of the book covers the basics: choosing and handling your gear; getting onto the water for the first time; paddling technique and safety considerations.

SURFSKI with the Pros...

The text then goes on to more advanced topics: navigating the surf line; group paddling and downwind paddling; training and competing and finally some of the theory behind ski and paddle shapes.  Finally the FAQ section condenses the most commonly asked questions from the Mocke’s many years of teaching.

SURFSKI with the Pros...

Using the Book

While you could sit down and read it from cover to cover, this is the kind of book that’s perfect for dipping into, simply because the information is so neatly packaged into logical chunks.  The chapters on group paddling and downwind paddling are cases in point!

SURFSKI with the Pros...

What I liked about the book

  • The breadth of information – from selecting your first ski to planning your training regime.
  • The clear and simple presentation of the information
  • The fantastic illustrations

What I didn’t like so much

  • I felt that the language was a little too staid in places – but heck, it’s a how-to, not a thriller!


This is an excellent book, long overdue.

Surfski paddling is a complex business and takes years to master – and even then you can always find ways to improve.  This book is both a means of accelerating the learning curve and an inspiration to get out on the water; read the chapter on downwind paddling and the first thing you want to do is go out and practice the concepts!

Surfski with the Pros

*The Surfski School concept has been franchised and operations based on the concept are running in Durban and East London.  Contact the Mockes if you’re interested in opening your own school.

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SURFSKI with the Pros...

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