Mauritius Ocean Classic 2013

Sunday, 02 June 2013 18:41 | Written by 
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Action at the start of the 2010 Mauritius Ocean Challenge Action at the start of the 2010 Mauritius Ocean Challenge

The cream of South African surfski paddling will be using the MOC on 29 June, 2013 as a warm-up for the inaugural ICF Ocean Racing World Championships in Portugal two weeks later; they're going to be well fired up and raring to prove themselves...

So who’s the “cream of SA Surfski paddling”?

  • Dawid Mocke (2012 Ocean Paddler World Series Champion and winner of the MOC in 2011 and 2012)
  • Jasper Mocke (2012 Ocean Paddler World Series Runner-up)
  • Hank McGregor (winner of the MOC in 2009 and 2010)
  • Matt Bouman
  • Grant van der Walt
  • Oscar Chalupsky (yep, even at 50, he’s still well up there, especially if there’s some wind and waves)
  • Barry Lewin
  • Tom Schilperoort
  • Herman Chalupsky (if nothing else, the tussle between the brothers is usually great to watch.)

Current SA Single Ski Champion, Sean Rice won’t be there – he’s just got back from a foray in Hawaii where he came second in the Molokai Challenge.  (He also beat Dawid and Jasper Mocke at EuroChallenge at the beginning of May.)  (Rice became one of the few surfski paddlers to win the SA Marathon K2 title this weekend...)

On the entry list that I saw, there weren’t any of the top Aussies, but there are plenty of Aus weekend warriors.

Nikki Mocke heads up the women’s race, with paddlers from Australia and Hong Kong making up a small squad of 5 or 6.

Classic Race, Classic Venue

I’ve had the good fortune to attend this event several times in the last while, and can confirm that it’s a fabulous venue for a surfski race, and paddlers’ families.

Tamassa

The Tamassa Resort, in the relatively unspoilt southwest of the island, is the race HQ and hosts the majority of the paddlers.  Part of the magic of the event is meeting like-minded paddlers from all over the planet – ranging from the sport’s elites to the happy hackers from Durban or Perth!

DSC 0422

A feature of the race - the colourful sega dancers the evening before the main race

Part of attraction of the event is its “ease of use”.  Each day groups of paddlers set out from Tamassa to paddle downwind to the infamous reef channel “Le Morne” – where you have to navigate back in through (the admittedly wide) gap between massive breakers to get to the finish.  As you step out of your ski, a helpful gang immediately whips it away, rinses it down and straps it down on the trailer ready to be delivered back to Tamassa… Now that’s organization.

The paddling is superb.  With thousands of km of fetch, the prevailing south easterlies don’t have to blow hard before the runs start building up.  And in the rare instances when the northerlies blow, an equally fun downwind is run from Black River down the west coast.

The only thing you need watch out for is when the big south west swell rolls in – it’s then that Le Morne becomes its most exciting (read “bloody terrifying”!).

Hank McGregor

Hank McGregor approaches the gap at Le Morne behind a massive bomb of a wave

Elsewhere in Mauritius

Whether it’s snorkeling with wild dolphins (truly outstanding) or hiking to see the unique (and rare) Mauritian Pink Pigeon, there’s plenty to do elsewhere on the island.

Waterfall

Make of point of exploring the island...!

Palle-en-Queue

The Palle-en-Queue - that's the stylised bird on the tail of Mauritius Airways Aircraft!  The bird life is prolific on Mauritius 

The Racing

In the absence of the big Aussie names, it’s going to be an all-South African affair up front. 

Only two people, both in Mauritius this year, have won this race: Dawid Mocke (2011, 2012), Hank McGregor (2009, 2010).   

Durban v Cape Paddlers - intense rivalry

In recent years the Cape Town paddlers in the form of the Mocke brothers, Sean Rice and Tom Schilperoort have tended to dominate the series results as well as many of the big races.  So the Durban-based McGregor, Bouman and van der Walt have an extra incentive at the MOC. 

Should be fun to watch.


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