The occasion was one of celebrating Freedom Day, but for the local Cape Town duo of Dawid and Jasper Mocke, it was one of heartache as they were beaten into second place in the 27 kilometre Prescient Freedom Paddle around Robben Island.
The talented Mocke brothers were always going to be in contention but it would take something special to beat favourites Hank McGregor and his young partner Josh Fenn, the former the world’s best and the younger Fenn always a stand out in the South African National Lifesaving Championships.
And as good as the Mocke brothers were, they still weren’t good enough to conquer the incomparable McGregor and his youthful partner.
McGregor, the World Marathon Champion, used every bit of his experience to navigate and negotiate the waters and obstacles, which included being diverted behind a container vessel.
McGregor and Fenn won for the second successive year and McGregor made it a hat-trick of victories. McGregor’s experience was influential, especially in combating Robben Island’s shallow reef and breaking waves. The pair broke the course record by 1min 18 sec
McGregor’s guile and the power and strength of Fenn proved irresistible as they claimed gold from the Mocke brothers.
The youthful Cape-based duo of Kenny Rice and Uli Hart finished third.
The women’s race was a different affair, with the order being established early on by another local crew of Candice Murray and Kira Bester, who also set a new record by breaking the ladies record by 58 seconds.
They started strongly and finished even stronger to beat the highly rated Chloe Bunnett and Olympian Bridgitte Hartley.
Defending Freedom Paddle champions Jenna Ward and Saskia Hockley finished third, with Hockley having competed at the Lifesaving SA Inter-provincial Championships in Durban over the weekend.
City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith, hailed the event as a victory for the city of Cape Town, the organisers and the participants.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on our annual events calendar with some events buckling under the pressure of restrictions. While many have had to be halted, we are pleased that events such as Freedom Paddle are continuing to wade through the storm. The City of Cape Town is pleased to provide support to events like Freedom Paddle to pick up where they left off before the pandemic and we hope these can help reignite the events ecosystem,” said Smith.
The significance of family freedoms was very much supported by the race as paddlers as young as Samuel Mocke (11) completed the short course event with his mother Nikki Mocke, wife to second place finisher Dawid.
Sean Rice and Christie MacKenzie broke mixed doubles record by 5min 6 sec