City swimmer ready for new race on water
Pugh, Mocke in 49km surfski sprint
NINE months ago, Lewis Pugh asked Dawid Mocke if they could win the most gruelling one- day surfski race of the year, The Cape Point Challenge. Mocke responded confidently: “Of course”.
Pugh, ocean advocate and pioneer swimmer, and Mocke, entrepreneur, multiple surfski title holder and environmentalist, have teamed up in a double surfski to take on some of the world’s best athletes at this pinnacle of surfski events today.
The pair face the tough task of paddling 49km from Scarborough, past Cape Point and on to Fish Hoek beach, a feat they’ve dubbed the “Comrades Marathon of the seas”.
But Mocke said the event was about more than just winning: “I want to end this year on a high. I get to paddle with a friend and mentor in an amazing race.”
Pugh added: “With swimming, I have almost done it all. Paddling poses a challenge. It is competitive and exciting… It is us against the elements.”
The cold water, huge waves and choppy seas are just some of the elements the surfskiers are looking forward to doing battle with. But they say they’re used to tackling unforeseen challenges.
The day before Mocke competed in the surfski world championships in Hong Kong last month, he suffered a burst appendix and underwent emergency surgery.
He was badly beaten in the race, and says his confidence took a knock. He also needed time to recover and wasn’t able to train.
When he arrived home, Pugh immediately noticed a change in his teammate’s attitude.
“He wasn’t the person I knew,” Pugh said.
So they sat down and decided how to deal head on with the problem.
“When you’re up against the ocean, you can’t be up against your partner as well,” Pugh said.
And while Mocke is more than comfortable in a long narrow kayak, it’s new turf for Pugh, who has completed a long-distance swim in every ocean on the planet. And Pugh and Mocke only started training together about a year ago.
In the run-up to today’s Cape Point Challenge, the pair have participated in a race every Friday. Earlier this month they won the Lighthouse Memorial Race, and were keen to repeat the result today.
It was all set to start at 6.15am today, and Mocke said their final words of motivation would be simple: “Here we are. Let’s race.”
MORE THAN A RACE: Husband and wife team, Elske and Ian Henderson, aboard their yacht Isla during the pre-race event in Table Bay harbour. Their race is a family affair, which includes their two young daughters.
IN IT TO WIN IT: Lewis Pugh, left, and Dawid Mocke pair up to dominate at the Cape Point Challenge today. Here they’re pictured during a training session.