Stand Up Paddleboarding Monster Waves: Christian Andersen shares extreme SUP tips

Now in its 4th year, the Red Bull Heavy Water event on the 2019 APP World Tour schedule is set to challenge once again the best paddlers in the world with a monster swell and radical conditions. The San Francisco event is dubbed one of the most extreme SUP races in the world and TotalSUP had a unique opportunity to catch up with Fanatic Team Rider and SUP phenom, Christian Andersen aka Polar Bear,  who first completed this epic challenge at only 16 years of age.

Photo Kate Beale

Hi Christian! Massive congratulations on your Battle of The Coast win in Zaandvort and a great racing season. Could you tell us a little bit about the invitation to take part in The Red Bull Heavy Water race?

Thank you so much! It’s been such a great season so far and I can’t wait for what’s to come. So I got invited the first time to the Red Bull Heavy Water back in 2017, which was such a sick event! And I was invited again last year, but unfortunately, we didn’t get the conditions needed. This year I just got the invite last week and now I am getting really excited about it, the invite is always really special.

How do you physically and mentally prepare for such a challenge?

For me, it’s all about training and getting out in conditions similar to the race so when I am out there I have done something similar before and I know what to do and I can stay “as calm as possible”. So preparation is key for me to be ready both mentally and physically.

Photo Cat Yde

In your pre-race training, do you do anything differently? Do you change your eating habits before a race like this?

My physical training and diet are quite similar to when I am preparing for any other race, it’s important to be in great shape, be healthy and recover well from training. Though leading up to Heavy Water I try to do most of my training in harder and challenging conditions to be more prepared for what it could be like on the race day, so I train in the ocean a lot in all conditions, wind, waves, current…


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Cold Hawaii in Klitmøller is known for epic swell. Do conditions there compare to the Bay Area?

For sure! Especially right now, we got a lot of storms with big waves and a lot of wind, the water is also the same temperature as Ocean Beach so it’s a perfect training for it. I do a lot of down winders along the coast when the conditions get heavy, there are some huge bumps that even break far out along the way and it helps me learn to control the race board with a bunch of speed on a wave. I also do a lot in and outs in the waves and wind which helps a lot as well.

Photo Joachim Bech

What are your thoughts when you’re facing a monster, XXL swell?

I try to stay as calm as possible, panic definitely doesn’t help, so staying calm, taking some deep breaths and hope for the best;) It’s always hard to figure out when you’re out there, if you wanna sprint out and try to make it out before a set comes, the problem is if you sprint and a set comes and breaks on you before you make it out and you’re out of breath, you’re definitely gonna get worked! Or you can wait and take deep breaths and then paddle out after the set has arrived and hope there is not another one, that’s a chance you run. If you make it that far because it’s extremely hard just make it out and you just keep paddling and paddling, get pulled back to the beach and try again!

Photo Kate Beale

What keeps you going when you’re competing?

To finish the race is such an awesome feeling and looking back it’s also a lot of fun. I also love the challenge, working hard towards something for a long time and overcoming it is really amazing.


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What are the most challenging conditions you have ever paddled?

No doubt two years ago at Heavy Water, that was really hard and I still can’t believe I was able to finish that. Hopefully, we can beat that this year!

Photo Kate Beale

Could you share your favourite SUP spots in Denmark?

My favorite spot is my home spot in Klitmøller, there are so many different spots for all kinds of water sports. The reef is really nice for SUP and longboards, the bay is perfect for foiling and also some good short board spots further down the coast. I can train on my race board at every spot and do downwinders in pretty much every wind direction, I also have a lake nearby where I can train on flat water. So no excuses not to get on the water!


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Outside of the racing season, what’s your favourite form of training and staying fit?

Foiling and surfing is basically everything I do in the off season. But I also really like bouldering and going to the gym, it all keeps me in a great shape while having fun and having a little break from regular training.

Photo Joachim Bech

What’s next on your pro SUP journey?

The next stop is San Francisco for the Battle of The Bay and of course Heavy Water. I will be there for about a month to get ready for it, but also just to have tons of fun with good friends on a road trip.

Photo Joachim Bech

Thank you for your insights an good luck with the rest of the racing season!

To find out more and follow Christian Andersen aka Polar Bear, visit

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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