Surfski Convert on the road to Dubai

Wednesday, 26 November 2008 03:12 | Written by  Paul Rosenquist
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[Editor: Paul Rosenquist is from Sweden - and is one of a number of European paddlers taking part in next week's $130,000 Dubai Shamaal race.  An avid convert to surfski, he told us of his introduction to our beloved sport.]


Winter of 2005: I got inspired to do something different... I was an elite sculler and for the winter I wanted a break. I ran into a picture of a Patagonia commercial on which an OC1 surfs down a huge wave. This picture made clear for me that I missed the blue ocean and the sun.

Blue Ocean... and Sun

So, Louise and I booked tickets to stay 1 month in Hout Bay, Cape Town.

Through friends we got hold of some surfskis and the day after we arrived we were trying out these in the awesome Hout Bay. I walked up to the beach and could not believe the view. The white sand, the mountains, the blue ocean, waves, and yess...the howling wind. I ran to the water with my Am I back in Sweden?..this water is cold as hell! Unfortunately we were more in the drink than gliding along on top of it the first few days. This for us was nerve wracking as I could not resist hallucinating each kelp field as massive shark backs despite the absolute banning from Discovery channel and its "Shark Week" on our TV set at home the months prior to our trip.

Locals were really nice to show us the tricks and soon we were having fun. Amazing...what an area! After our host sort of kicked us out of Cape Town since he thought there was more to see for us, we after a week's trip to Plett came back to the Cape. This place grew on us.

Obviously I had to start in a race. From Hout Bay around the little cape and downwind to Cape Town. Paddle, boat, water bottle, good luck. I could not believe it. Here we go heading straight out into the biggest sea on earth miles from land, wearing not more than a pair of speedo's... People don't die easy in SA.

Hout Bay to Camps Bay

Out of the bay was nice and flat. I managed to hold on to the leading pack and felt reasonably ok. Than at Seal Island things went worse. The massive swell here bounces of the cliffs and the little Seal Island with all its seals don't make it much comfortable either. Here I did a lot of swimming. Felt great to cool of a bit, while tourist boats were circling me spotting the seals, sharks?, and struggling foreign paddler. After that difficult bit, the nice runs down to Cape Town started. I expected naively that the course would go just along the coast. But no. Obviously shortest possible route with biggest possible waves.  Shall I go lonely the long safe way? Or just follow the rest. Ok, follow the rest. This was awesome fun, overtaking other skies while running down the big swell, and being overtaken by them again, when panic bracing to stay on top of things. The landing spot was a small beach, after a tricky entry to the little bay between some big rocks and kelp fields I relaxed and paddled the last few hundred meters to the beach. Louise, and a couple of others were standing there waiting for me...waving and pointing at me..I thought. They were pointing at the huge shore break behind me.... Up went the back, down went the front, and I made a gorgeous pitchpole that landed my tired bum right on the beach. The event organizer didn't blink, just duly noted my number and checked me off. A tourist attraction that I recommend every one! :-)


Sea Kayak or Surfski?  I need a Surfski NOW!

After that year I got more and more into the rowing and eventually tried to get myself to Beijing. In our trials for the single scull I was up to half man half horse Lassi and he beat me with a second or 3. I decided not to challenge him more and to get myself focussed on my job again. A year later, (now) I am really itching for some challenge again. Not so serious as the rowing, but at least a lot more fun. Pushing lap after lap on the flat lake I had enough of. So I thought of paddling again. I started with the Point65 XP, a fast sea kayak. Then bought a Nelo Sea Vanquish. The latter is a great boat. It got me swimming again a few times, but the speed is phenomenal and I love paddling it. But now, it is windy and really cold here...freezing basically and it is always dark. Though we don't have sharks, and don't have waves higher than 1 foot I must admit that I do not dare paddling the Nelo on open water by myself, in the dark, in 3° cold water.  Some friends invited me to hang along with their group paddling a Va'a 6 out in the archipelago. I thought, well, let's see if I can get hold of a Surfski and I will join them. So I borrowed Magnus de Brito (our new kayak designer) if I could borrow his. I crawled into a wetsuit and jumped in. Wow...this baby is stable in comparison to my Nelo. 10km's later and hammering it to keep up with the Va'a6 I knew it....I need a Surfski. NOW.

At the same time my work was making me focus on Dubai. I am sales manager for Point65 the Swedish Kayak manufacturer and we feel it would be fun to sell some boats in the Middle East, as I grew up there.  I knew of this Surfski race in Dubai, but when I suddenly figured it would fit perfectly with a sales trip I got inspired.


Awesome fun

Paddling conditions here in Stockholm at the moment are interesting. Yesterday during lunch break I jumped into my borrowed Ski and went for my daily lap around the islands here in town. Wind was up to about 20+ knots and after a 8km upwind sort of struggle, I finally got a nice 4km downwind in the wind chop. Awesome fun. Covered in neoprene sweating like a pig and eyes squinted for the snow mixed rain.

So much looking forward to get into some warm water and to learn more of this interesting Surfski World!