Big Wave Surfing - Jasper Mocke Interview

Wednesday, 31 October 2018 17:04 | Written by 
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Jasper Mocke takes a drop...  Jasper Mocke takes a drop... Credits: Rob Mousley

As I watched through the zoom lens it felt as though I was right there: Jasper Mocke’s surfski hung for a moment on the precipice and then plunged down the face of a massive wave.  He hit a smaller cross chop, went airborne and then plunged down, the nose of his ski diving into the green water; he disappeared in an explosion of spray and then the boat shot up without him, spinning, into the air.

An hour earlier, he’d called me, “Hey Rob, the waves are working nicely at Kalk Bay, want to come take some shots?”  Hell, yes!

When I arrived, it was to find huge sets jacking up on the reef just outside the harbor.  A fiercely cold 15kt SW wind was creating side chop; Jasper was in for some bumpy rides...

A few minutes later he arrived – and paddled straight onto one of the biggest waves of the day, riding it all the way from the reef to within 50m of the harbor wall.  Yeeeeeeha!

He caught a dozen waves during the session of various shapes and sizes, and on three occasions the nose of his Epic V10 Sport surfski drilled straight down into the water, flinging him off and sending the ski skywards. 

The shoot was a great success from my viewpoint – and the comments and shares on Facebook and Instagram showed that they were enjoyed by our readers too.  The comments raised some questions though, and I called Jasper to do a follow up interview.

Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay Harbour; the Harbour House Restaurant was getting wet...

How would you rate the conditions for yesterday’s session?

Extremely challenging!  There was a big swell with a side chop created by the southwesterly wind, which isn’t common at all… and it made it hard to get onto the swell. 

Also, once you were on the swell, there were lots of bumps which made it like catching runs actually on the face of the wave!  And that’s where the nose-diving was coming from; as I was going over a bump on the face, the ski would dive down again into the the actual ground swell.  

So, yes, the conditions were challenging!

Rough conditions

The face of the big ocean swells were full of wind-generated bumps, making for exceptionally challenging conditions

Can you tell from the forecast that conditions are likely to be good at Kalk Bay?  Southerly swell, what size, low tide?

You usually need a south or southeasterly swell with a longer wave period like 12sec or longer.  

Yesterday was actually a southwesterly swell, but it was so big that there was enough energy to wrap into the bay; it was a 6m southwesterly on the Atlantic side of the peninsula, which is quite big! 

The wind caught me a bit by surprise; normally I’d prefer a light wind or no wind.

What’s the technique for catching a big wave like that?

Good question!  So…  you’ve got to line up in the right place, and with that side chop it was really hard because, it’s almost like you’ve got to go downwind, you’ve got to start 100m behind the wave, catch runs like you’re going downwind and then turn onto the wave. 

It’s almost like going on a downwind except that the run you’re going to catch is really, really big. 

So: line up at the right place; start paddling early enough to build up your speed, because those waves are moving really fast – actually catching me unawares from time to time. 

A big one...

Some of the swells were massive...

What happens once you’re on it?  It’s difficult if not impossible to change course?

Once you’re on the wave, what’s really important on that specific wave is to go straight down the wave, or slightly to the right.  You don’t ever want to let the nose of the boat go left because as soon as it does that, there’s so much power in that white wash and the wave that it’s going to take your tail, wash it around, the nose will go left and you’re gonna be in the foam wall and then you might end up on the rocks.

So, once you’re going down the wave, keep on the right rudder, keeping the nose straight down and even erring to the right – but not too much to the right!  If you go too much to the right, it’s just going to kick you out – so there’s a finesse on the pedals!

You leash yourself to the boat – isn’t that dangerous?  Don’t you get hurt?

People often discuss whether you should leash yourself to the boat like it’s black and white.  It’s not like that; there’s not a definitive answer. 

In theory, if I was playing around in the surf zone at the beach, I wouldn’t really want to wear a leash.  If I lost the boat it would be fine, I’d just swim to the beach. 

But near the Kalk Bay harbor wall, I don’t want to lose the boat.  For one, I don’t want to be swimming out there, and two, there’s rocks and the wall and stuff so I can’t afford to lose the boat.  So, I’m prepared to take the risk of my leg getting a little ripped or whatever from the leash. 

But as I say, you have to look at your situation and weigh it up.  (Shout out to the new leash made by my brother, it’s world-class.)  On the open ocean of course, you always want to have a leash.

Worried about breaking the boat?

Yes, breaking the boat is always a concern, but you know it’s not a complete cowboy mission out there! 

I’m pretty calculated, I line the take-off up on the mountain; I’ve got two spots on the mountain to align the take-off on, I know exactly where those little boiler rocks are, and I always keep the ski straight or slightly right of straight so that if it nose-dives or something happens, the nose of the ski always bails to the right.   You’d have seen with my nose-dives!  It always goes to the shoulder of the wave. 

Submarine

Make like a submarine!

If I nose-dive or wipe out, I never try and hang on to the boat; I just let the boat go where it goes with the wave, because it’s when you try and hang on to something or you try and stay on the boat too long is when the admin comes! 

If you know where the hard obstacles are, and you avoid them, and you get out the boat as soon as you see something’s going to go wrong, then you should be good.  Plus, the construction of the Ultras is a mixture of carbon and Kevlar, so it’s very, very durable.  It’s probably the most durable that I’ve ever paddled – so I’ve got lots of confidence in the construction of the boat.

Going

Going...

Gone!

...Gone!  The essential thing is NOT to try to stay too long in the boat!

Ever broken a boat there?

No, I’ve never broken a boat there.  I’ve been fortunate – but I’ve also made the right calculations and decisions as to when to go, where to paddle, what boat to use, all those sorts of things.  So, so far, no broken boats and I hope to keep it that way!

Isn’t a spec ski more suited to those conditions? 

Yes, a spec ski is better for these conditions: more volume in the nose, more rocker, seat maybe a bit further back.  I don’t have a spec ski, so the V10 Sport is the only ski I have suitable for the waves. 

I would prefer to be sitting further back, or with more volume in the nose to keep the nose out; it would also allow me to take off in a more critical spot and ride the wave out. 

Get Epic to send me a spec ski, haha!

This isn’t the first time you’ve done this by a long shot – there’s also a fabulous video, shot by Jean Tresfon using a drone, isn’t there?

Yes!  It’s here:


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