Buffalo City will be the centre of the South African surfski community this weekend when the famous Pete Marlin Surfski Race hosts the 2016 South African Surfski Championships on 6 and 7 November and with national titles on the line, the who’s who of ocean paddling will be on display.
The 2015 national title challenge was an all-Mocké affair as older brother Dawid claimed the singles title, younger brother Jasper successfully paired up with Hank McGregor in the doubles duel and Dawid’s wife, Nikki was the ladies winner twice over with victory in the singles and doubles alike.
Defending champion Dawid Mocké is however going to have to be on top of his game again in 2016 if he is to clinch back-to-back national crowns as a world class chase pack looks to dethrone the veteran ace.
Mocké will have his work cut out for him in the singles race on Saturday with the likes of his brother, Jasper and Marathon World Champ Hank McGregor both likely to be breathing down his neck throughout the 23km contest.
“The Pete Marlin is a race that I am very familiar with and have won it a few times in the past, so I am looking forward to the races this weekend,” the Mocké Paddling star Dawid Mocké said.
“I really enjoy the race and I am looking forward to a seriously competitive race this weekend, especially as there are a couple of guys who are also looking to get valuable World Surfski Series points.”
Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ McGregor has uncharacteristically battled at the national ocean showdown in recent years having been unable to win the singles category at the past two South African championships that he has taken part in.
McGregor has dominated the KwaZulu-Natal surfski scene for a number of years but curiously has been unable to replicate that form on the national stage of late.
McGregor has won the past two national doubles titles with Euro Steel/Mocké Paddling ace Jasper Mocké, but is still looking for that elusive singles win.
With his calibre and the impressive year that he has had in 2016, McGregor will however undoubtedly be one of the paddlers pushing hard at the front of the field this weekend.
“Hank has been in great form in the World Surfski Series this year and hasn’t lost a race that he has paddled in this season so he is going to be a really fierce competitor as always while Jasper is always hungry to win, so it is going to be a really interesting race,” Dawid Mocké added.
The likes of Think Kayaks/Varsity College’s Kenny Rice, Epic Kayaks’ Matt Bouman, Kyle Friedenstein and Fenn Kayaks/Bay Union’s Luke Nisbet will also be eyeing a shot at the pre-race favourites this weekend.
While the women’s contest is going to be equally as competitive as the men’s, it is certain that a new South African champion will be crowned this time around as 2015 winner Nikki Mocké will not be on the start line this weekend.
With the door open for any one of the fast-emerging next crop of South African female surfski stars to step into the winners circle, one cannot look past local lady and Fenn Kayaks’ star Nikki Russell as a serious title contender.
The East London local has put a lot of time into marathon paddling in the past few months however with home conditions to lean on, she will be a tough paddler to beat this weekend.
The young Euro Steel/Fenn Kayaks’ duo of Jenna Ward and Kyeta Purchase will also be looking to impress at the Eastern Cape clash while Euro Steel/Carbonology Sport’s Hayley Nixon will be buoyed by her recent win at race three of the Illovo Suncoast Pirates Wall and Back Surfski Series heading into the national decider.
Durban will provide the bulk of the top elite ladies that will be contesting the singles honours with Donna Tutton another paddler that cannot be ruled out of contention this weekend.