For the 9th year in a row the Sieravuori SUP Masters are back in Finland, this time in the beautiful historical town of Turku. Jari Laakso, the energetic event organizer of this international SUP event is telling us all about this year’s edition and has already got BIG plans for the 10th-anniversary edition next year!
Hi Jari, can you please introduce yourself and tell us about the organization behind the Sieravuori SUP Masters and your activities related to Stand Up Paddling.
I have been involved with stand up paddling since about 2007. After receiving our first boards from BIC SPORTS (now Tahe Outdoor), we started a school and rental business at the very spot where the Sup Masters have always taken place, Sieravuori, Eura in southwestern Finland. The event has run every year since 2013. Over the years there has been a lot of people helping with the race, and there is still a small but dedicated group of people running it. I want to give my big thanks to race secretary Milja Hautakangas and race director Pasi Rahikka. Without them, we would not be racing this weekend.
Tell us about the history of your event? This year you’ll be racing in Turku, can you tell us about the setting and the atmosphere or your event location?
This year’s event will be different since we will be racing the Friday section in River Aura in Turku, about 70km from Sieravuori. Turku is the oldest town and ex-capital of Finland, and we will get to race right in the center of this historical town. The race center will be at the parking lot of Finland’s oldest school, The Cathedral School of Turku. Then we carry the boards about 200 meters and launch to the river at the foot of the oldest building in Finland, The Cathedral of Turku. From there we will race the sprints through the historical center of the town. The sprint will be about 2km. This will be quite the opposite environment to what we have been used to, since Sieravuori is all about countryside, nature, and lakeside wilderness.
You’ve been part of various international sup race circuits from the beginning, why is it important for you to bring paddlers from outside of Finland?
Sup Masters have had 2 goals since the beginning: to organize an event which is interesting enough to bring international crew to compete in Finland. I think we have succeeded on that when you look at the winner’s list over the years. We have had world champions like Casper Steinfath and Zane Schweitzer entering the event, as well as current world ranking list #8, Christian Andersen. Christian has confirmed his entry also for this year’s event. The second goal of course has been to offer an international event for Finnish paddlers to measure their speed against the world’s premier paddlers.
What is the SUP scene like in Finland and in your area?
SUP as a sport has grown exponentially over the past couple of years. Unfortunately, that growth has not yet transferred to the amount of people competing in the sport. The number of racers have actually gotten smaller over the past two years. We need to start building up the sport from scratch. Locally we are offering the equipment and teaching to 9 -15-year-old kids at a very low cost, and hope that each year some of them will remain within the sport. That will take time, but if more schools and clubs would be doing that all around the country, it will definitely pay off in the future.
Next year you’ll celebrate 10 years of Sieravuri SUP Masters, what are you planning to do?
The X event next year will offer more prize money to gain more international attention and attract racers, but I hope it would also offer a SUP festival type of get-together for all people interested in the sport. We are already planning for it, and will release the NOR later this summer for the July 2022 event.
Would you like to add anything?
Anyone needing help to come to this week’s event, please contact me at +358-40-8231245