Last thursday was the Surfski race during the Arctic Sea Kayak race held in Norway. It is the most northern downwind race in the world. Sean Rice has won the surfski race two years in a row. This year he tried to get his third victory in Norway but he was beaten by Jasper Mocke with 28 seconds. Read Sean’s race report.
Sean Rice sprinting during last year’s race. (Photo: Peter Svensson)
Yesterday was the show down. I knew all along Jasper was the main man to mark. I’ve trained and raced against him more than enough times to know he is a fantastic paddler and I should come more than prepared and be read to hurt when lining up next to him at any race.
I do a lot of International Surfski Races every year. Some are big (Durban World Cup, Hong Kong Dragon Run, Cape Point Challenge etc) with 200+ paddlers lining up where literally any 1 of 10 or more of the top dogs could have a realistic chance of winning and some are smaller ones like yesterday. Now the thing with the big ones is that, because there are just so many guys going for the win and so many different variables that I almost feel a little less pressure. As Emily my girlfriend always says “Save your stress for the things you can actually control”. Not that I feel comfortable but more that I know when the race starts anything could happen and no point getting all worked up about it. With the smaller man on man races there is a lot more control by each paddler in the race and if you make just one mistake the other guy WILL notice and most probably take advantage. Even though there might only be 2 or 3 main guys in the mix I often find these kinds of races a lot more gruelling. It sounds weird but it’s just how my mind works I guess.
Yesterday was a 4 man dual. Dane Sloss (Aus), Joep Van Bakel (NED), Jasper (SA) and myself (SA). To get to the race start we all loaded our boats and bodies onto a big recue vessel for the 45min boat ride 16km to the south of Skipnes. The nice thing about this was the fact that we all got to check out what the wind and runs were doing along the course.
Race started at 1pm. I went out hard to try and get a gap. I managed to open up about 80m on the others in the first 4km. I really had my head down pulling anything I could out of each bump. The runs we had were left over from the storms we had had for the previous 3 days with a light wind coming over our left shoulder. For the guys back home it was similar to paddling from Hout bay to Camps bay with a light wind. Runs were coming a little side on with no resting on the runs. I had got into a good rhythm and noticed Jasper quite far in on my right (Way to far right I thought).
We had to go around a rocky point before heading down the last 9km to the finish and I was on what I thought was the “Tiger Line”. What I didn’t know was that Jasper had noticed a small gap through the rocks on the trip to the start and before I could react he was through it and had made 150m on me. The last 9km were painful. I caught up to within 50m but he had his ears tucked back and I had no chance to close the gap anymore.
I am disappointed about my result, but I knew it was going to be a tough race. With such a short distance you just can’t afford to make any mistakes. Jasper showed his class and deserved every bit of the win. I look forward to round 2 next year!
Now back to training focus for next weekend. US Surfski Championships in San Francisco is going to be one of the BIG races!
2. Sean Rice 1:05:38 RSA
3. Dane Sloss 1:09:30 AUS
4. Joep van Bakel 1:12:11 NED
5. Fredrik Ness 1:18:07 NOR
1. Chipo Tendeland 00:54:14 NOR
2. Thea van der Westhuizen 1:00:03 RSA