Swedish Surfski Training Camp

Thursday, 30 April 2009 07:46 | Written by  Paul Rosequist
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[Editor: Paul Rosenquist sent us this report on the first ever surfski paddling camp.  Swedish surfski paddlers are tough - winter is only just over and the water was still a crisp 4 degrees C.]

Winter this year was pretty severe - nearly all our paddling waters froze over. The odd weekend here and there I still managed to do some paddling but it usually meant long drives to the outer archipelago of Stockholm to find liquid water. The rewards though were always huge...

Wam Bam Wangler and I had some really nice sub-zero 20km paddles where we managed to find some downwind rides after having beaten into the polar winds...



So come spring and Peter came up with the great idea to kick-off the season with a spring camp for Surfski paddlers. The number of boats has grown a lot over the last two years and more and more folks are getting taken down by the ski flu. It's an interesting mix of guys and girls that turn to ski paddling in Sweden. Former elite paddlers (Olympic medallists, world champs etc, etc) adventure racers, sea kayakers, and complete novices meet and discover they have one shared passion! Awesome.

So finally it is Saturday morning 06:00 I load the three V10's onto my truck and pickup a few more guys. Martin (the Swedish version of Matt Bouman (2m strong as hell) Erik my colleague, and Magnus my friend that started his paddling career in a V10 last year. (He's had a lot of practice in how to remount a ski!)


Arriving at Oxelösund it was great to see a) some open water with bumps on it and b) more cars with skis on top.

Peter quickly talked us through some of the house hold stuff and made sure we all got a cabin to sleep in. The base was a small fishing harbour and we all slept in little red cabins spread out on the dock. The paddling would start from Oxelösund kayak club. This club might be little, but the clubhouse walls are covered with pics of multiple Olympians flashing their medals. Pretty cool!

"Only" 30 paddlers!

Having 30 ski paddlers turn up might be a disaster for an event in Cape Town, but for Sweden, where at the time both the air and water temp was 4degrees C it was awesome! We more or less decided on a route to paddle and allocated a responsible leader for three packs: Medium fast, Xtra Medium, and Fast. I only started paddling last winter (Dubai) and had no clue how I would stand beside some of the giants here. Having been doing some work on paddle ergs this winter I was keen to find out!

I quickly found Tommy Karls who I knew would be the fastest man. He is Sweden's (so far) only Molokai survivor and first paddled skis 20 years ago when he was training for the Olympics in Australia. He out-ranks every paddler in Sweden with age, power, skill, and speed. One could not ask for a better mentor. Just to sit on his wake, look and learn was my mission for that day!


After 10km's pretty nasty upwind paddling we came to a point where we could turn east and head out and catch some downwind and hopefully some rides. The pack had halved in size as the more "medium" paddlers found the wind and choppy fjord we were crossing a bit too much. I was flabbergasted by Fredrik, the designer of the Nordic Kayaks Ski... he was sort of hanging on in his prototype ski with a deck made of wood and plastic sheet.  I would be shitting chewing tobacco paddling that thing in the water we were in... he told me afterwards he was a bit worried about the whole thing collapsing too...



We chose a small island to head for and steamed off downwind. The swell is not huge here - less than a meter. But that's the great thing about ski paddling - you don't need much to be thrilled - the finesse of catching and linking the smaller rides is just as rewarding! Tommy and I were more or less on the same line but he was a few hundred meters to my left. Finally I'm not reading about fun downwind paddles on Surfski.info but actually doing it! Every now and then my little friend on the footstrap peaked out at 15km/h and I was loving it!

Freeze Dried to Deep Fried

Paddling downwind in 4degree temp and sun also means the whole sensation of being freeze dried turns to being deep fried. I was wearing a Farmer John wetsuit and a sort of latex shirt over that. Really comfy, and even needed to splash water in my face and down my neck to stay cool! Just think of Mauritius...

Six kms later we turned around the island, waited for some more guys and sprinted the last 4kms back home! What a day!

Ski Testing

After a massive lunch we all got back on the water again and used the occasion to test different boats. All the Thinks were there, Zedtech with two boats, Nordic with their prototype, the ubiquitous V10s and even some spec surf lifesavers. Don't really want to go to deep into all this, but I came to the happy conclusion that the boat I own was damn hard to beat on all points! The Nordic however had an awesome seating position, and the bailer system nearly sucked you out of your footstraps. The new Uno felt superfast but just as scary to paddle.

Saunas and Swedish Beers

After dinner most of us crammed into the floating sauna and sweated deep into the night. Dipping into the sea and re-hydrating on Swedish light beer.

Next morning all crawled out of their little cabins stiff from yesterdays beating and slightly disappointed with the discovery of morning frost in the breakfast room!

Day 2

The wind had turned 180degrees and was stronger too. So we planned another route to paddle. After some really nice upwind paddling along cliffs with rebounding choppy waves we came to a point where we thought it was wise to cut straight out and back. Somehow we did not want too many people to be spread out all over the open water. Safety margins if something goes bust are slim with these water temps.

We selected another island halfway along our downwind stretch (6km) and off we went. Aaah... I can just not get enough of it! Paddling hard, trying to catch rides, steering left and right to catch and then steer up again...it is so much fun..  and all while chasing the guys in front of you! Coming back into the bay a nice swell kicked up between two islands and I got a 600m ride at 14 to 16km/h. 

Yesssss... we Swedish Ski paddlers are easily pleased! We joked about it afterwards.. being so excited and happy having paddled in these conditions is like celebrating that tonight's party dinner is Knäckerbröd with butter!

I guess we really like Knäckers.


Another sweet lunch in the little restaurant on the dock, hugs and high fives and everybody was off again to their corner of the country. Some had 500km to drive!

Two hours later I was laying on my sofa, wasted, but still seeing images of Tommy's ski in front of me dashing away on a nice run, while moments later catching one myself and catching up again a bit.. What a feeling!

A huge Cheer from Surfski Sweden to Peter Ekström for putting this together!

(Tonight is doing 4minute intervals in town... not the same thing at all!)

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