The countdown is on to Yukon 1000, “the world’s toughest endurance and survival race” taking its paddling contestants through 1000 miles of “untouched wilderness” with zero support available.In the run up to this equally unforgiving and epic challenge, TotalSUP caught up with Scott ‘Skip’ Innes of Team SHAC Yukon 1000, the first all UK SUP Team to paddleboard the distance from Canada in to the Arctic Circle and finishing in Alaska, to chat about their preparations and gear.
Team SHAC (Scott Skip Innes and Craig Sawyer) have chosen the 17’3”x26” Linear unlimited, inflatable long-distance touring boards designed by Yster SUP, a premium Swedish SUP brand based in Malmo, that the duo recently visited.
“It was great to finally meeting Skip and Craig in real life. As a team they are complementing each other really well. Skip brings in his background from outdoors and adventures and Craig is a strategist with great knowledge about sports nutrition and endurance, among other things,” commented on their visit Per Vallbo, Founder and Director of Yster SUP. “I have realised that Yukon 1000 race is very much about strategy. Preparations and planning are key and the team is totally dependent on each other, their gear – and ultimately the boards that will be their companions through the wilderness. Having seen Skip and Craig in action, and heard about their preparations, I am confident that they have chosen the right board for the ultimate endurance race. The Yster ISUP 17’3”x 26” Linear has a long waterline and drop-shaped outline that provide extraordinary glide and straight line tracking – essential characteristics for yielding maximum return-on-investment for every stroke over 1000 miles.”
From left: Scott ‘Skip’ Innes of Team SHAC Yukon 1000, and Per Vallbo of Yster SUP
Hi Scott, welcome to TotalSUP! Wow, Yukon 1000, Why Yukon 1000, out of all super gnarly ultra-endurance challenges?
Great question! Why the Yukon 1000? For a couple of reasons for me, firstly, stand-up paddleboarding it’s a relatively unknown race having traditionally been a canoe race and therefore only and handful of SUP paddlers have ever done it before, that appealed to me! No other British SUP paddlers have done it before so we will be the first. But the main reason for me is the remoteness of the environment and the survival challenge of the Yukon 1000 that just throws in the extra element of adventure.
You have a very well-established position on the UK SUP scene with a thriving SUP hub. How does all that experience translates onto what you’re looking to achieve at Yukon100?
Aside from having great support from the community and our various kit sponsors primarily Yster SUP who have supplied our ultra-endurance 17”3 paddle boards and Ocean Specific who have supplied our paddles for the event the cross overs are relatively limited. At The SHAC we work at the grass roots of the sport primarily, introducing people to the wonderful world of SUP in the best way we can. We do work with more experienced paddlers as well but our work location is primarily a lake so the cross overs there are limited.
“Pure Isolation / Total Exhaustion / Self Survival” – What’s so appealing about the extreme?
I have always been a bit of an adventurer and like to take on a challenge although this is a big one for sure. I think it’s important to really test our boundaries at least once in a lifetime with enough time beyond the challenge to learn from the experience and apply the learnings to life. I hope it will help me help others in the future off the back of the experience and encourage others to take on challenges that suit their individual appetite.
How does one prepare for something like this?
Good question! I’m not really sure, especially after the ups and downs of the last couple of years, back in 2020 I felt physically and mentally prepared for the challenge and now I’m taking the approach that I want to enjoy the disconnection from the world for a while, no internet, no phone, no everyday life/business concerns is really appealing to me and I intend to learn from that experience to improve my life balance in the future.
How do you assign your roles for the challenge?
Lol, this is something Craig and I have discussed a fair amount over the last two years! Craig has been amazing working on all the pre-race logistics and planning, he is just geared that way, I’m a little more free and easy and take the challenge is it comes. I have more experience on the survival side than Craig so my role is to keep us safe and warm where needed and to drive our morale where needed too although that’s definitely a two-way thing. I guess this question will actually be easier to answer after the event!
Craig Sawyer of Team SHAC Yukon 1oo0
Is there anything that you are particularly concerned about?
I think the biggest challenge is mental one, 18 hours of paddling per day, although being quite a physical challenge to say the least, will play havoc with us mentally and we can’t underestimate that. We have tried to make all our procedures both on and off the water as simple as possible whilst designating specific jobs to us both so decision making is down to a minimum. Anything I’m particularly concerned about, Craig squirting me with bear spray before running away from the bear!
Could you tell us about your collaboration with Yster SUP?
The collaboration with Yster SUP came about purely by chance, Craig sawyour article onlineabout the board and we have chosen it for the challenge. We have been through four boards whilst on the journey to the Yukon but it was certainly worth the wait, we have ended up with the right board for the job and Yster team has been amazing in their support. As you know, we recently visited Per in Sweden and local paddleboarding hub, SUP Malmo, what a lovely guy and his boards are amazing.
From left: Per Vallbo of Yster SUP and Scott ‘Skip’ Innes in Malmo, Sweden
What makes the Yster iSUP 17’3″x 26″ Linear a board for the job?
We have, the extra length in the board which is useful for a couple of reasons, firstly the glide is incredible which will help us keep our cadence down whilst maintaining the average speed we need to complete the challenge. The nose fin helps the tracking and the additional space helps with kit loading. It’s a really comfortable board to paddle and although it’s only 26” wide it’s incredibly stable both in the flat and in the bumps. Cracking boards and we love them. Thank you Yster SUP!
I’d also like to mention our paddle sponsors at Ocean Specific who have been amazing throughout our journey over the past 3 years, working with us to develop and choose the right paddles for the job. They have supplied us with a fixed shaft main paddle with a large surface are blade and an adjustable 3-piece paddle as our back up specifically designed for the event in partnership with Craig and I. Great bits of kit so massive thanks to both our primary kit sponsors.
Thank you very much for your time and good luck – Stay safe and have an epic adventure!
Thank you and we’re looking forward to catching up after we have completed the ultimate SUP adventure in the Yukon 1000.
From left Craig Sawyer of Team SHAC, Per Vallbo and Scott Skip Innes
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