CAPE TOWN – Despite having little time in a boat together, defending Freedom Paddle champions Jasper Mocké and Nick Notten will be back to take on the country’s best at the national double ski showdown on Freedom Day, 27 April.
The 27km paddle from Oceana Power Boat Club, around Robben Island and back draws huge significance from the fact that it celebrates the significant contribution of Nelson Mandela to the nation’s democracy, while paddling around the place where he was imprisoned for most of his 27 years’ incarceration.
For Mocké, the past few months have given him a chance to put his life into perspective with some time away from paddling.
“We have paddled once or twice together, but that’s because I have just been getting back into training again,” the surfski ace said.
“I took two months off, and it was good for me to just take my mind off paddling and focus on what’s important to me.
“I am feeling re-energised, and I am definitely looking forward to the Freedom Paddle.
“It is such a significant day for us as South Africans, and if we can honour Madiba’s legacy, then that makes it more special.”
The pair managed to navigate their way around Robben Island with skill 12 months ago, but they have changed up their approach for this year’s race.
“We have swapped around in the boat, and Nick will drive us this year.
“It’s going to be an impressive race with it being one of the few doubles-focused races, and South Africa is a country that enjoys its doubles paddling more than most.
“There will be the cream of the crop when it comes to surfski paddling at the race, and we are going to have our work cut out for us if we are going to win again,” Mocké stressed.
The out-and-back course will be difficult to manage should the weather not play its part.
“It is going to be a challenging course, but it is the same for every crew, so we will have to paddle really well.”
A record field will assemble on Freedom Day, with 320 boats entered for the event.
* The Freedom Paddle 2019 takes place on 27 April 2019 from the Oceana Power Boat Club on the V&A Waterfront, around Robben Island and back, a distance of 27 kilometres. More information can be found at https://freedompaddle.co.za/