Baltic Sea: The perfect SUP racing & training playground for Starboard Rider Linus Karlsson

Power, focus and conviction seem to be the accurate words to describe the racing style of Linus Karlsson, six-time Swedish SUP Champion and  Starboard Team Rider.

TotalSUP caught up with Linus in between two races – Planet Baltic SUP Race in Poland (where he has just bagged fresh podiums – Technical Race Win and Silver Medal in Sprints) and his home turf event, Skrea Strand Paddlerace (11-13 August).

Photo by Robert Hajduk / Planet Baltic SUP Race 2023

Hi Linus, welcome to TotalSUP – It was great to see you racing in Malmo and congrats on your performance at Planet Baltic! You’ve been motocrossing professionally for years, right? How did you get into the sport of stand-up paddleboarding?

Yes, that’s true. I got my first bike when I was 7 years old and since then all I did was riding motocross and building dirt jumps for my BMX! So I spent pretty much of my childhood on two wheels which was my big passion. Expect from Winters when I trained and competed at cross country skiing.

At the age of sixteen I moved out from my parents to start at a motocross high school where I stayed for three years (2014-2017).

After several injuries due to motocross crashes I discovered stand-up paddleboarding when my old Coach Dan from Idrottslabbet Linköping started to collaborate with Kona Sports in September of 2019.

I got the opportunity to borrow a race board and do a race called “Götaland Kanal SUP Race” which was a 17km race and that was my first time on a racing board ever. I felt straight away that it was something for me because it’s pretty similar to cross country skiing and I always loved water activities! Since that day have I’ve been fully focused on SUP racing.

Photo credit: Bord’Ocean SUPdays 2023

Are you hyped about the way your local SUP racing scene is progressing?

I can’t say I’m hyped about how the scene is progressing but it definitely starts to go the right way. In my option that’s mostly because of the Swedish Canoe Federation’s new way to look at the sport and introducing kids to SUP. If they stay at it, I definitely think it’s going to pay off with more kids starting to paddle!

What in your opinion is needed to grow the sport in your country and encourage young people to start competing?

I would say the focus on getting kids into racing in general is too big. I mean most of the kids that play soccer or hockey they’re not doing it because they want to compete. They do it because they want to hang out with their friends and have fun! So I would say it’s more important to invite kids to “get together paddles” and involving clubs from different sports where they can come with their friends and start to paddle together as something fun.

But to make this happen you really need to be working for it and that’s not possible without daily work and own racing.

We’re catching up in the run up to Skrea Strand Paddlerace event. Could you tell us more about your experience with this event and what are your expectations?

Skrea is a race that I’m definitely looking forward to every year because it so well organized and it’s the only race in Sweden with a professional approach! Especially this year with the ICF World Ranking status it will be even better!

As for my own expectations, as always I want to do my absolute best and we will see how far it will take me at this year!

What’s so special about the Baltic Sea?

For me personally, what’s special about the Baltic Sea, is spending all Summers long at our family’s house on a island in the archipelago. For racing in general, there is almost no high/low tide and no swell (that’s around Sweden) so it’s more like a really big lake.

Photo by Robert Hajduk / Planet Baltic SUP Race 2023

If we’re talking about the Planet Baltic Race I think most of the people remember the conditions from the ICF World SUP Championship in Gdynia last year! That’s more or less the conditions you get at that part of the sea.

Photo by Georgia Schofield / ICF Worlds

What’s your board set up for this event?

At Skrea I will race my trusted Starboard Allstar 14×23” together with my Starboard Lima Paddle (size L) and Flash fin.

I’m super happy and proud to get the opportunity to represent Starboard’s Dream Team up here in the Nordic. Our goal is to have a long term collaboration where I’m aiming to do something real good in the future and I believe Starboard is the best Team to grow with!

To be as good and prepared as possible, you have to have a good training structure. I believe “Booth Training” delivered by Michael Booth is the solution that suits me best. So going into this season I started working with Michael during my offseason and so far it’s feels really good! We have a good communication and he’s making my plans on daily basis and specific for going into races. Same as with the Starboard Team, this a long term plan and we’re not rushing anything. So only the future will tell!

Photo by Krzysztof Mruk @

What are your SUP plans in the coming months?

My plans for the coming months is Skrea and then some other local races. Nothing really planned yet because my program is based with my eyes set on the ICF Worlds in Thailand so that’s definitely my main focus. On the way to Thailand will I do races which suit me best.

Thank you for your time Linus and good luck at Skrea and with the rest of the season!

Follow Linus Karlsson on Instagram 

To check out Starboard 2023 board range, visit

Have you heard about the Future Fighters movement? Visit Blue Tiki – A token for Future Fighters 

To find out more about the event and to register, visit

To find out more about Baltic, visit Baltic Lifejacket Sweden and follow the brand on Instagram and Facebook 

About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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