Oscar hits Stockholm – hard!

Thursday, 29 July 2010 12:23 | Written by  Paul Rosenquist
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Oscar Chalupsky hits town... Oscar Chalupsky hits town... Credits: Peter Ekström, www.globalsurfski.se

[Editor: Paul Rosenquist, a Dutchman living in Sweden, sent this hysterical study of the ongoing culture clash that ensued when Oscar Chalupsky arrived to take part in this weekend’s Seamasters Surfski race.]

Swedes v Oscar

Swedes are a special bunch of people. And they know it too. Being a foreigner living in Sweden I know that they only know half of it…

A typical Swede can walk around, raging with fury, clenching his fist so hard that his knuckles turn white in anxiety about some other person that is saying or doing something he does not like. However, his fist is in his pocket and you will never notice it. The Swede’s art of life is to avoid doing anything that might be discomforting for another person.  Rather stare down into the floor than look at someone; rather say nothing than shout “how ya doing”.

So on one side of the scale we have the Swede...  What’s at the other extreme I hear you ask… Answer: Oscar Chalupsky.

Listening to the big O

We have a small yet colourful surfski society here in Sweden and when I heard thru the bushdrum that Big O was in town, I jumped at the chance to hang out with him; the perfect opportunity to de-Swede myself again a bit.

I walked onto the pontoon of one of Stockholm’s poshest floating restaurants where we decided to eat lunch. Here I met up with Tommy Karls (way too fast for his age), Peter Ekström (Mr. globalsurfski.com) Erik Wahlström (Mr Epic Sweden), Oscar (Mr Epic), Luke ( Chalupsky jr) and a French Journalist.  I usually swoosh by the waterfront table here sweating it out either in a ski or a single scull.

Not today, we’re having a nice lunch while listening to Oscar… in fact the entire terrace is listening to Oscar.

Oscar Chalupsky

Oscar speaks loud, and uses his entire huge arm span to emphasize his words. No one has a clue what he is talking about (apart from us).  The Swedes have huge problems understanding the freaky African accent and in general have no clue about surfski anyway - which obviously is the topic of conversation.

What is for sure is that any poor soul who owns a sea kayak has probably put it up for sale by now on Ebay. It’s fantastic to hear Oscar rant on how completely wrong sea kayaking is. What lunatics these people are that buy and try to carry them, and how f*cking embarrassing it must be to produce them.

In many ways he’s right! But the Swede in me is thinking, “maybe some people just want to go slow, and maybe some people like the traditional banana designs…”  The South African however is chewing out ad-hoc invented insults as we go, explaining just how the kayak industry screwed up.

I’m loving it! I’m de-sweding with every hilarious insult as we go.

Meanwhile Oscar is asking every non-blond Swedish girl how it’s possible she isn’t blond; teaching the neighbouring tables about the wine they are drinking; telling some pensioners that just picked up golf what balls they must use and telling every foreign tourist with which celeb sport icons of their country he has drunk beer.

Stockholm by water

L to R: Martin Nordstrand, Luke Chalupsky, Paul Rosequist, Oscar Chalupsky

Stockholm by water

We decide to go for a paddle in the evening to show our guests around Stockholm a bit.

After work we meet up at my beloved rowing club.  Martin Nordstrand (the Swedish version of Matt Bouman) joins us. The poor soul just took delivery of his sponsored Zedtech ski.

Oscar is passionate about skis and the sport in general. I love the fact that you really feel that he only wants one thing: the entire planet to paddle a good ski and experience the feeling of riding the bumps mother nature creates for us on the open water.  At the same time Oscar is so disappointed how no-one in the world can produce a proper surfski…  all skis are completely wrong, and the ones that are half decent are bad copies.  It’s hard to disapprove of Oscar… So Martin endures a short briefing about his ski.

Martin Nordstrand

Martin Nordstrand - after being briefed by Oscar on the special features of his new ski

Coach Chalupsky

We head off in the direction of the city center, where the water is buzzing with 75,000 ton ferries, sightseeing boats, steamers and flashy motor yachts. Here we hope to catch some bumps. As we paddle over the rowing lake towards town Oscar directly falls into Coach Chalupsky mode: valuable technique tips, insults, adjustments, and other comments fly over the water. We are adjusting, learning, executing, and wondering how this man that is pushing the boundaries of how far spandex can stretch is so bloody hard to keep up with!.. Oscar has, according to him, exchanged his paddles for golf clubs and the size of his gut is proving it. He plays scratch golf rounds now...  Oscar only knows of winning and being the best.

Oscar Chalupksy

"...pushing the limits of spandex"

It’s fascinating to see how comfortable Oscar is, doing what he’s best at. With no effort he is always on the sweet spot on the wake of whatever boat, regardless the speed.  Martin, a 205cm man beast is hitting it hard (I know his face when he is paddling hard) and keeping up. Oscar is just sitting there gliding on. Somehow, with a lot of determination, I managed to squeeze my ski into the right place and ride the same wave as Oscar. As we are swooshing thru town at 19,5kph I hear the constant stream of technique adjustments he is firing towards Luke. Keep your elbows down, shoulders down, keep up for #$%@ sake! And then, “Paul where’s Martin?”, “Oh, I think he slipped of the wave”, “Told you! His ski is all wrong….”

Chilli Peppers

Later that evening, while Oscar is asking our little Indonesian waitress for stronger chilli peppers ("these you gave me here are too weak!"), Luke tells me he’s going to paddle a K2 race with his dad in Spain.  “Who’s driving,” I ask. “I am, I have to, otherwise we don’t have our rudder in the water”. “Nice,” I say… “Yep, 25kms of continuous stroke correction,” he murmurs.

Oscar is now explaining to the waitress where to find colder beer in the fridge and that he is a member of the chilli club in Durban with only paddlers as members… the question mark covered stone-face of the girl is fantastic.

Clinics and the Swedish Surfski Champs

Oscar has full a program here, three days of clinics and then our Swedish Surfski Champs for which we are finally anticipating some good downwind.

For the Swedish Surfski scene, Oscar’s visit is a fantastic boost of inspiration, most of all learning firsthand what it’s all about!

Even better, I sit here at my office desk and am happy, knowing that Oscar is de-Sweding every soul that crosses his path here in Sweden. Get your fists out of your pockets guys, and wave ‘em in the air. Look people in the eye and tell them what you think and how silly their banana shape kayaks are.

Paul Rosenquist

Paul the de-Sweded Dutchman


Seamasters (incorporating the Swedish Surfski Champs) has grown from 12 competitors in 2008 to 24 last year to over 60 in 2010 with participants from 12 nations…

See http://www.seamasters.se/ and http://globalsurfski.se for more information.


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