SA Paddlers head for San Francisco

Tuesday, 30 November 1999 02:00 | Written by  Harry Lock
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ImageTwo of South Africa's top surfski paddlers leave this week for San Francisco where one will be defending his title while the other sets out to prove himself on foreign waters.

Last year Cape Town's Dawid Mocke caused something of an upset at the USA National Surfski Championships by beating the field, including America's Greg Barton, a double Olympic gold medallist and past winner of the event.

Title Defense 

He returns this year to defend his title on a tough 35-kilometre course that event organisers describe as: "being designed to test the endurance and rough water skills of expert paddlers." The race begins in San Francisco Bay and sees the paddlers passing under the Golden Gate Bridge as they head out into the open ocean where they paddle around Alcatraz Island.

Dawid paddling in the King of the Harbour, Auckland, NZ



Fellow South African, Barry Lewin will also be among the 100-strong field that takes to the water on Saturday, September 16. Organisers have confirmed entries from Hawaii and Tahiti, and there is a strong American entry, as they are determined to win back the title from Dawid.


Mocke's experience on the water makes him difficult to beat and this combined with his multidisciplinary approach ensures his position at the top of his sport. Apart from surfski paddling, he is a regular competitor in canoeing and lifesaving events. He represented South Africa at the Tri Nations Lifesaving Challenge and is a past Breede River Canoe Marathon champion.


He now has his sights set on a spot in the South African Canoe Sprint team that will be going to the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.


"For the next two weeks though, it is all about the USA Championships,' says Mocke. As usual, on Saturday morning he will be down on the beach at the Surfski School teaching novice paddlers, before he heads for America in the afternoon.


Barry Lewin


Barry Lewin has been making the most of the winter-surf conditions in preparation for his race. In July he finished fourth in the World Cup Surfski event held in Durban and has been in training since then for the USA Championships



Barry Lewin powers through the break off Durban, South Africa

He hopes the combination of gym work, weight training, running and time spent on the water will be enough to get him to the front of the pack on race-day. "Dawid is the man to beat, and since I have finished ahead of him on a couple of occasions, I am confident of a good finish," says Lewin.

After the singles race the two South African paddlers set their rivalries aside as they climb into the same ski for the doubles event on the following day.

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