He waited almost a decade, but Dawid Mocke earned another South African team selection with a podium finish at the National Titles. PHOTOGRAPH: © Anthony Grote.


He boasts one of the most accomplished careers that our sport has seen, but for all of his incredible surfski achievements, there’s one experience that Dawid Mocke had conceded that he would never get to live out.

In 2013, he was days away from representing South Africa at the first ever ICF World Championships in Portugal when disaster struck.

His appendix burst.

That meant three hours of emergency surgery and more than a week in hospital.

And, for almost a decade, an opportunity seemingly gone begging.

But now, at the age of 43, Dawid Mocke has earned another shot.

His third place finish at the National Championships last month has seen him again earn selection for South Africa.

“It is an incredibly cool feeling,” Mocke told The Paddler after today’s team announcement.

“A few years back, I just accepted that everything I had achieved would be everything I would achieve – and I was grateful for it.”

“I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll get to pull on the green and gold, the Proteas jacket.

“So for one to come across my path, I’m going to take it… because it’s a really hard team to make.”

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

Mocke describes it as “a gap in the sporting CV” – but it’s certainly not a reflection of his paddling ability.

After the mishap in Portugal, the balance in his life naturally shifted as he adjusted to becoming a father-of-two, along with the demands of his business, the globally-recognised Mocke Paddling.

He still competed in races – and always kept paddling – but the intensity was no longer the same.

“Training and being an athlete by nature is actually quite a selfish thing to do,” he reflects.

“When you start travelling to events and compete at a super high level, there’s sacrifices that have to be made in terms of time.

“There was a period there where I wasn’t willing to put in the hours required.

“Now that Sam (11) and Sarah (9) are older, and Sam is wanting to paddle more, there’s actually a bit more time for me to paddle, I guess.”

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

Mocke is one of the headline athletes on the 16-person South African team:

SENIOR MEN: Hank McGregor, Nicholas Notten, Dawid Mocke, Kenny Rice, Dom Notten.

SENIOR WOMEN: Michelle Burn, Melanie Van Niekerk, Candice Murray.

UNDER 23 MEN: Joshua Fenn, Daniel Jacobs.

UNDER 23 WOMEN: Kira Bester, Jade Wilson.

UNDER 18 BOYS: Josh Smith, Dyllan Farrel.

UNDER 18 GIRLS: Saskia Hockly, Valmajean Hockly.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a seriously strong team.

And that depth is one of the motivating factors for Mocke.

“The reason I want to grab this opportunity is because of the level of youngsters coming through the ranks.”

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

Of course, there is an obvious hurdle to that.

The ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has placed the 2021 ICF World Championships, scheduled to go ahead Lanzarote in July, in serious doubt.

Australia and New Zealand have both declared they won’t be competing, but for South Africans, there’s still hope.

“If the mandatory quarantine period gets waived, I definitely will go.” He says.

“It would be sad if Australia and New Zealand aren’t there… but if they go ahead, I think it’s important that we do go.

“However, if the 10-day or two-week quarantine remains, no matter how much I’d like to represent my country at a World Championships, it’s just not practical.”

Even if Mocke is once again denied the experience of representing South Africa this time around, it won’t be his last opportunity.

The surfski icon has no intention of stopping anytime soon.

“It’s not the priority that it used to be, but I’ll definitely keep giving it a crack.

“Sam seems really keen, so who knows what the future holds.”