Yster SUP, the premium Swedish SUP brand based in Malmö, will be powering SUPdriven Expeditions, a new outdoor company offering guided SUP tours through wilderness areas in Sweden.
“Touring is in the DNA of Yster SUP, so it is with great pleasure that we are launching SUPdriven. Our expeditions take you off the beaten track to places you would not venture to on your own. The board we will use for these expeditions is the ultimate touring board, the Yster ISUP 14’x28” Linear. This is the same board that Göran “Gossa” Gustavsson, used to win the Yukon River Quest in 2023,” said Per Vallbo, Founder and CEO of Yster SUP.
SUPDriven Expeditions Founders: Per Vallbo and Leah Richardson
Hi Leah, welcome to TotalSUP! Could you tell us more about your background and how did you get into the sport of stand-up paddleboarding?
I’ve been a nomad my whole life. Raised by hippie parents who wanted to make the world a better place, I was born in Kenya and had lived in 13 countries by the time I turned 18. This experience instilled in me an innate love of exploration and adventure. I had also always loved the water, in warm water I am like a fish never wanting to get back on the land. The first time I paddled off on a SUP it was like it all came together in a bang. This was for me. On the water everything is new, every time. I quickly moved from a casual paddler to wanting more, going further, experiencing more. This led me to becoming a flatwater SUP instructor, both as a way to up my game and to share my passion with others. However it was after my first multi-day SUP expedition that I realized this is where it all comes together for me. Adventure, exploration, full body and soul immersion with the water and your board. Well, there’s nothing better.
Could you tell us about your collaboration with Yster and becoming a Brand Ambassador?
I reached out to some Swedish SUP brands to sponsor a SUP expedition I wanted to do with a band of kick-ass women I had assembled. Immediately with Per Vallbo at Yster there was an appreciation for what I was trying to do and a self-recognition. We loved each other’s ethos and he agreed to sponsor us. After taking some boards for a spin through the canals of Malmö it was a no-brainer that I’d become a Brand Ambassador!
What’s is your favourite Yster SUP board set up and why?
Pike. Or I guess she’s officially known as the Yster iSUP Linear 14 x 28. This board has glide and beauty, and honestly it feels almost impossible to fall off. You can load it down with masses amount of packing and barely feel the difference. Being inflatable, the board is a good match for my exploring needs and it lives most of her time off the water in the boot of my car, ready just in case.
You’re launching with Per Vallbo a new venture powered by the brand – SUPdriven Expeditions. Could you tell us more about the whole concept?
The hardest part about setting up these multi-day, unassisted SUP expeditions through the watery magic of Sweden was picking the name! We had Mural boards, endless WhatsApp messages, Zoom calls and even spent 100km of paddle time in discussion. There was a moment when we were reflecting how we are both so passion driven, someone made a joke the we were SUPdriven…and that was it.
It embodies our ethos. We are passionate (driven!) about SUPing as well as the mental high you get from that intimate connection with the water (read the book Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols to learn the psychology and science behind it!) So SUPdriven is about sharing a full immersion SUP experience in the Swedish wilderness. We paddle many days in a row on some of Sweden’s most beautiful flat water, self-sustaining and free, with everything we need on our boards.
Yster SUP is all about endurance, adventure and long-distance paddling and high performance boards. Have you identified a gap in the SUP market and your venture is a response to it?
SUPdriven was born because we loved spending uninterrupted days paddling and wanted to share that with others. My experience from SUPNorway and from doing a market analysis showed that there is a growing interest in SUP adventure tourism and still few providers. Sweden has the most islands in the world, is one of the top five countries in the world when it comes to lakes, and 97% of the country is wild. When you have this one-of-a-kind nature, add amazing Yster SUP boards designed for long-distance use, and share this with a growing market niche…well I think there will be magic.
You have recently completed a 100k SUP expedition scoping the routes? What are your biggest learning and will they translate onto SUPdriven Expeditions?
Yes, this summer I did 100k scouting one route and 80k scouting the other. Unfortunately the Summer ended otherwise I’m sure there would have been another! This will lay the groundwork for some of the things that make SUPdriven great:
What is life without good food? It’s important to keep the food varied, plentiful, and tasty! The campfire is a natural gathering point at the end of the day and sharing a delicious meal together after a day on the water…well there’s not much better.
Communication is key. We are all individuals, with our own boundaries and needs. On expedition layers get striped and we become are true selves pretty quick. Fostering open and honest communication is key to making sure that we all feel safe, seen, and happy.
You arrive as strangers, leave as family. And you get to skip all the baggage that family usually comes with! There is something indescribably special about heading out into the wilderness for a few days with people you’ve never met before. You develop bonds and get to know each other a record speed and there is a closeness that develops. This is something we really want to foster at SUPdriven.
Are SUPdriven Expeditions for everyone in terms of SUP skill level? What can participants expect from it?
Well you do need SUP skills to head out with us. In order to ensure that you get the best out of your experience, and so that our expedition is able to move together seamlessly, we need to ensure that everyone has the same minimum level of skills. Our criteria are laid out very clearly on our webpage and vary between our two offerings.
Basically summarized you need to be able to paddle 15-20km a day for the Lake Expedition and feel comfortable paddling into a headwind and self-rescuing if necessary. The River Expedition is for those SUPers looking for the next level expedition and therefore requires you to be comfortable paddling up to 30km a day, possibly in variable conditions, up to an hour without break.
When are the first expeditions kicking off and how can we book onto it 😊?
The first expedition launches at the end of June, around the Midsummer Solstice when the nights have basically disappeared here in Sweden. We have three expeditions planned for Summer 2024 but we’ve already have so much interest so don’t wait!
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