After proving that she is the best junior female surfski paddler in the world by retaining her world title at the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships in Portugal, Saskia Hockly has set her sights on proving a point by racing onto the overall women’s podium at the Dis-Chem Pete Marlin on 5 and 6 November.
The Durbanite completed a runaway victory in the junior women’s race in Viana do Costelo earlier this month to retain her junior title in tough, mild offshore wind and weather conditions, underscoring the strength of the training base that she will bring to the Border downwind weekend, where she hopes the Wild Coast winds will come to the party.
“I know that in previous years the conditions have been amazing for the race and I am seriously hoping that there will be a bit more wind that there was at the worlds,” said Hockly, who is coached by Matt Bouman in Umhlanga.
After racing toe-to-toe with the best senior women in Portugal, Hockly is keen to measure herself against the top local females at the Pete Marlin and see if she can get onto both podiums as a junior.
“Coming off the back of worlds I feel like I am the fittest I have ever been,” she said. “After finishing in the top five overall at my first Pete Marlin last year, I want to see if I can improve and maybe even get a top three position.
“It is definitely going to be tough with the calibre of the field that has already entered, but they tell you to set your goals high and I feel like I am up to the task,” she said.
Hockly had initially entered the doubles race with her younger sister Valma Jean, but end-of-year exams have derailed the younger sister’s hopes of making the trip to East London. Saskia Hockly enthusiastically co-opted Holly Smith, who finished second behind her at the world champs, to paddle with her in the doubles race.
“It will be our first time paddling together and Holly is really strong at the moment,” said Hockly. “We are good friends so I hope things will be smooth and easy and we can aim for a top three in the senior women’s doubles as well.
After thoroughly enjoying her first visit to the Dis-Chem Pete Marlin last year Hockly is eager to return to East London for the weekend-long downwind festival of surfski racing.
“The people are all so friendly and accommodating,” she said. “I really enjoyed the vibe and I am super excited and feeling confident.”