The 2023 BALTIC Skrea Strand Paddle Race, the 3rd annual event organized by the Falkenberg SUP Club in Falkenberg, Sweden is a significant part of the 2023 Swedish circuit known as the Svensk SUP Race Serien. This year, the event held the distinction of being an ICF SUP World Ranking Event. The driving force behind the event’s success was former snowboard Olympian Tommy Dee Packendorff, who, along with a dedicated team of volunteers which included injured NSP Racer Patrick “Paddy” Boyum, ensured the smooth execution of the event.
Drawing in SUP enthusiasts from the North of Europe, the event’s ICF label, substantial prize money, and captivating media content from the previous year attracted over 100 SUP racers representing more than 10 countries. Among the participating nations were Sweden, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, France, England, Scotland, Jersey, and Finland. Unlike the previous year’s sunny and calm conditions, this year’s event posed a different challenge due to the presence of wind, rain, and waves throughout all three days.
The event, officially known as the Baltic Skrea Strand Paddle Race, derives its name not from its location, but rather from its title sponsor, Baltic Lifejackets, a renowned Swedish lifejacket brand. Falkenberg being located on the Kattegat Strait – and not the Baltic Sea – which serves as a natural boundary between Sweden and Denmark, the event’s association with Baltic Lifejackets underscores the critical focus on water safety and promotes the essential use of life-saving equipment within the SUP racing community. Other SUP event sponsors included Swedish brands: Yster SUP, Infinity SUP Nordic and Kona Sports.
Skrea Strand Paddle Race – Day 1 – BIG SUP FUN
The event kicked off with a 4-team BIG SUP competition on Friday. Remarkably, the kids’ team, comprising young athletes aged 7 to 14, managed to secure victory in both their heat and final races against seasoned paddlers.
Skrea Strand Paddle Race – Day 2 – Technical Race
Day 2 featured a full day of intense Technical Race action. The morning witnessed the elite men’s and 40+ men’s qualifier heats for the A and B finals. While the women’s division had insufficient participants for separate heats, the top 8 registered Elite and +40 women advanced directly to the A final later in the day. The Technical Race course encompassed two laps of 1.25 kilometers, incorporating four buoys and a beach flag for runners to navigate through knee-high shallow waters, culminating in a challenging 2.5-kilometer course.
Notably, 14-year-old Benyam Bossack from The Netherlands demonstrated exceptional determination by competing in both the junior and Elite divisions, earning a spot in the A FINAL. In the +40 men’s division, Johan Furestaf made a remarkable comeback to secure victory, with the second heat featuring impressive performances by two-Sweden based Aussies: Martin Hunter and Dermot Fitzpatrick.
14 y.o. Benyam Bossack from The Netherlands
After a brief intermission, the afternoon was devoted to three hours of A and B technical race finals. The junior divisions witnessed remarkable performances, with Benyam Bossack clinching victory in the junior boys’ category, while Team Poland secured a clean sweep in the junior girls’ division.
In the +40 women’s division, Verity Thomas showcased a triumphant return from injury, aided by a loaned board from Swedish brand and event sponsor Yster SUP. The +40 men’s division saw Staffan Andrén emerge victorious, while the Elite women’s race experienced a surprising upset. Tanja Ecker, the 11-time champion of Germany, encountered early setbacks, allowing 19-year-old Marta Apanacewicz from Poland to seize the lead and secure victory. Swedish racer Michelle Kimbler emerged as a revelation on the international stage, finishing second, while Ecker settled for third.
Marta Apanewicz leading the A-final field
New faces: Marta Apanasewicz (Poland) and Michelle Kimbler (Sweden)
The men’s final witnessed an impressive display by Christian Andersen, who maintained his lead from start to finish. 18-year-old Will Keetley, Mikolaj Majdan and Linus Karlsson, battled fiercely for second place, resulting in dramatic moments as positions shifted near the finish line.
Infinity UK SUP Racer Will Keetley
Mikolaj Majdan on KONA
Skrea Strand Paddle Race – Day 3 – Long Distance Race
On the final day, conditions were less severe, characterized by a grey sky, light wind, and manageable swell. The day began with a fun race and a junior race, followed by the adult races. The long-distance course featured four legs of a 2.5km track along Falkenberg’s shores, with challenging side swells, an upwind and downwind section, and a total distance of 10km.
LONG DISTANCE LIVE FEED
While Marta Apanacewicz was surprisingly absent from the women’s division, Tanja Ecker displayed her prowess, securing victory. Freja Pedersen from Denmark emerged as a newcomer on the international SUP race scene, claiming second place as well as another Dane Maria Østergaard Holm. In the men’s division, Christian Andersen’s lead remained uncontested, and Linus Karlsson redeemed himself from the previous day, finishing second. The battle for third place was fought tooth and nail, ultimately won by Mikolaj Majdan, a few meters ahead of Dutch ultra long distance specialist Joep Van Bakel.
404 International Team rider Tanja Ecker, Winner of the Long Distance
Double win for the favorite: NSP rider Christian Andersen
1. Johan Furestad, SWE
2. Verity Thomas, Channel Islands
3. Jörgen Abrahamsson, SWE
4. Alexander Hack, GER
5. Eve-Lina Furestad, SWE
6. Charlotte Wilhelmsson, SWE
7. Johan Hoekstra, NL
8. Ursula Sauerteg, GER
9. Joanna Castro, SWE
10. Anette Håkansson, SWE
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