Image source: Maria Cerboni via Skrea Strand Paddlerace by Baltic Lifejackets
The newly released video by Baltic Lifejackets Sweden, a watersport brand specialising in designing and manufacturing premium lifejackets, buoyancy aids and floatation clothing, not only captures the Swedish SUP Championships highlights but proves that Sweden is fast becoming a serious player on the international SUP racing event circuit.
TotalSUP caught up with a local rider Andreas Esp to get an insider insight into the thriving Swedish SUP scene in and the event itself.
Hi Andreas, welcome to TotalSUP! Where are you based and what’s your local SUP scene like in Sweden?
Hi and thanks! I am based in a beautiful place on the Swedish west coast in a community called Onsala in Kungsbacka municipality and is approximately 35 kilometers south of Gothenburg. Here we are close to the sea, to the forest and not so far from the lakes. About 65 km to the South, we have Varberg, which is considered to have some of Sweden’s best surfing beaches. Before we moved here, we lived on Tjörn, one of Sweden’s largest islands.
I am relatively new to SUP. It all started when I got an introductory course in SUP last year with Pontus Ny (who is the man behind Baltic’s new SUP pfds) when I turned 40. My wife and I have talked a lot about SUP over the years and have friends who are paddleboarding and it looked so nice.
I was hooked after the safety course and realised what an incredibly good form of training SUP was. You get to move your whole body and without thinking about it, you’ve got a great workout. I’ve never liked going to the gym and I’ve done running but mostly because I know it’s good for you and not because it’s fun. But with SUP – wow! In addition, there was a newly started association, Gottskärs Water Sports Club with a SUP section where Pontus is very active and which has regular training sessions, so I joined the club.
There are several reasons behind the SUP boom that started last year. Covid is one of them but there’s also something that is easy to forget for us living in Sweden… We have here something unique that is called Allemansrätten – Sweden’s nature is open to everyone thanks to Allemansrätten. This means that you can stay in the most natural areas without worry, even in privately owned forests and lands. The motto “do not disturb, do not destroy” sums up Allemansrätten.
This means that we have great opportunities to experience nature without any major problems. Swedish biggest SUP scene is made of those who are in the sport just for leisure. However, I have noticed an increase, and hope that more people will discover SUP as a way to excercise!
You have attended the Skrea Strand Paddlerace – Swedish SUP Championships – What was it like?
What an experience! It was about 30 degrees Celsius and brilliant sunshine on one of Sweden’s most beautiful beaches – absolutely fantastic. I was in the open class distance race which was about 5 km. Among the elite class were some of the best riders from Sweden and they did the 11 km distance race. Last year I came to the event as a spectator and to cheer on my clubmates from the Gottskär’s Water Sports Club. It was Casper Steinfath who won that year. This year it was Thomas-Johan Nielsen from Norway who took the highest podium in the elite class.
Participating in this year’s event has inspired me to train and get more healthy. My ambition is to be part of one of the elite class next year, technical (approx. 3.5 km) or distance races. Then it all depends on how the training will go and what shape I’ll feel I’m in in a year.
Where we live in Sweden, it gets quite dark in the Winter months – it’s dark when I go to work and dark when I get home, so I have to find a fun form of exercise for me that works during weekdays in the dark period, as going out on the fjord and training won’t work. I have also two children, seven and eleven years old, who have activities on weekends but I try to find time to get on the water at least one day per week all year round (as long as there is no ice on the fjord).
Baltic Lifejackets has just released a SUP specific range. What’s your experience with this brand as a SUP rider?
I got a tip from a close friend who had a paddleboard in his boat before me. It was a life jacket from another brand, so I bought it but I found it quite clumsy. My son has started to like paddleboarding more and more, so we got him a Baltic Canoe Life Jacket this Spring and it proved to be great for SUP too.
Then I took that SUP safety course that Pontus Ny and Maria Cerboni organised and during that course Pontus showed me the new SUP-specific life jackets and they looked so smooth.
After the course a friend got the Baltic SUP Pro version and I borrowed it from him – it was so nice to paddle in. It all ended with me ordering the Elite model – I wanted the option of carrying a hydration bag, which it there is a separate pocket for on the Elite model. It’s such a good quality and it’s absolutely worth the cost. I use it every time I go out by myself or when I’m paddling with my children.
I attended another SUP competition at Waterweek(where Baltic Lifejackets is one of the main sponsors) and I saw the pink Pro model so bought the smallest size for my daughter – She really loves pink! So now we have both the Elite and Pro model in our family. And as for the Waterweek race? Well… I’m not good yet at handling sidewinds yet on my new board (and it felt like it was sidewinds all the time) so the Baltic Sup Elite Life Jacket had to work hard with me during those 7,2 km where I stopped counting how many times I fell in but at least I managed to complete the race 🙂
What’s your SUP board set up?
I have an Infinity Blackfish dugout 14×23 but there’s always a plan for more boards. Thinking about the Infinity E-Ticket, that is a such nice touring board or maybe the Blackfish 14×27 Flat Deck for when it gets choppy and windy on the fjord. But right now I feel so satisfied with the dugout and I’m fully focused on learning to handle it as well as possible.
Thank you very much for your time and we’re looking forward to seeing you at the 2023 edition of the Skrea Strand Paddlerace!
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