Yukon 1000: UK Riders Scott ‘Skip’ Innes and Craig Sawyer return to ‘push past impossible’

If there’s one thing certain about the British SUP duo behind Team SHAC Yukon 1000, is that they’re ready to endure some pain. In fact, they’re itching to embark on the Yukon 1000, dubbed the world’s toughest survival and endurance race which tagline states: “Pure Isolation, Total Exhaustion, Self Survival”.

TotalSUP caught up with Scott ‘Skip’ Innes and Craig Sawyer, the all UK SUP Team, on their turf at The SHAC in Surrey, United Kingdom and we even got to test the Yster 17’3”x26” Linear Unlimited Inflatable board which is the Team’s weapon of choice for the upcoming challenge.

Craig Sawyer at The SHAC

Yster SUP, a premium Swedish SUP brand based in Malmö, has been making waves in the endurance and ultra-endurance SUP racing circuit, solidifying its position as the touring/expedition board-to-go-to with the last year success at the Yukon 1000 of the All-Girl Dutch SUP duo and this year’s SUP division victory at the Yukon River Quest (715 km/444 mile paddle race) bagged by Göran “Gossa” Gustavsson.

There was one burning question to be asked when we met with Scott and Craig: “This time lucky?” The Team has been attempting the challenge since 2020, but their plans got shattered when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and last year Craig tested positive in Yukon. “It must be like fourth time lucky!” they replied and shared their take on this year’s challenge.

Hi Scott and Craig…Let’s get straight into it: Yukon 1000 – This time lucky?

Craig Sawyer: It’s Groundhog Day! Yeah, 2020 cancelled because of COVID, 2021 cancelled, 2022 we got to the start line and had to pull out the race because I got COVID, 2023 green light and it’s happening. Scott will literally knock me out and put me on his board if I get anything. So yeah, it’s been tough 12 months since the 2022. But we can’t wait, can we?

Scott ‘Skip’ Innes: There are things that you can’t control like last year, it was a situation that we just had to deal with. It was tough mentally too but actually, in hindsight, we look back and we’re kind of like, it was really useful in many ways. We’re definitely more prepared, definitely more understanding of what we’re putting ourselves in for and more respectful of it. So in many respects, it was really positive although hard at the time. I think now we’ve come the full circle and we’re going back out. We’re just really excited to get going again.

Scott ‘Skip’ Innes

How have been this year’s preparations going?

Craig: Well, it’s been four years of prepping… Sometimes you can have too much time to prep  and you can overthink things. So had to really sort of like just chill out a bit this year round. And I think actually, that’s what’s done us good this year, because we are so well prepped with everything we had planned for last year and the previous years, had they happened, has proven to be on point. And we got our mapping right, our navigation, our kit. We have refined our kits since last year since getting out there. I think now there’s just this feeling of like, yeah, there’s a lot confidence, not complacency. And things happen for a reason.

Scott: In terms of preparations we complement each other massively, but Craig is the organiser and I’m a little bit of a maverick…

Craig: And that’s why it works! I spend pretty much every waking and sleeping hour thinking about this, right? I’m the one with spreadsheets and then Skip comes into his play, calm,  composed and chilled. And he’s starting to rub off on me now I think 🙂

In all our endurance race talks, the subject of food keeps cropping up…

Craig: Absolutely, it’s what keeps us going and if you don’t get that and hydration, you’re gonna have a tough and horrible time. And you know, again, this is one of the things I love doing, I’ve read tonnes of books such as Mike Stroud, he walked in North and South poles with Sir Ranulph Fiennes. He’s given us loads of advice around what to eat and how to eat. And basically, you’ve got to just keep feeding the machine.

Scott: We have to be committed to it. We have to make a decision to remind ourselves to keep it going, it’s very important.

What’s the biggest challenge that you may face this year?

Craig: I think the biggest challenge is going to be the weather. The water levels have been so high for the last two years and the river has been running very, very fast, which is why records have been smashed but that also comes a with risk such as very unsafe campsites. We’re fine on paddleboards but with kayaks, when they fall in and they need to get back in, they haven’t got anywhere on the site.

So I think the biggest challenge is the unknown of the weather, you know, what’s going to happen with weather… the river is not looking as high this year, which is good in one way, maybe it’s going to be a bit slower. So yeah, getting the half-way point, getting past that checkpoint. And just fingers crossed for a tail wind across the lake!

Scott: It’s the mental challenge for sure. Apart from being with each other, it’s the complete isolation in an area where there is nothing around, there’s more bears than humans. So it’s the  proper isolation, proper disconnection which actually I’m really looking forward to.

But it’s the mental side of things. But the thing Craig and I have got as a team is strong mental capacity to get this done.

Craig: Yeah, after what we’ve come for over these past four years with all the disappointments, trials and tribulations from pandemics to getting out of that, I think we definitely have got the mental capacities! We just can’t wait!

Thank you so much for your time and good luck with everything – Paddle hard and stay safe!

Yster 17’3×26 to power Team SHAC Yukon 1000 adventure – What Craig and Scott said about Yster boards:

Craig: When we first read the specs and features of this board, it was as if we had written a wish list for the perfect Yukon 1000 board. Long enough and with enough volume to take us and all our kit, narrow enough to be stable, but fast, a front tracking fin, portable enough to be able to train with it in the UK and take it to Canada and back from Alaska, and built strong enough to withstand the ultimate in distance and endurance touring.

When the first board arrived we took it out for a paddle on the river and were surprised at just how fast and agile it was and the glide is incredible too. It was great to finally know one of the last (and one of the most important) pieces of the Yukon 1000 kit preparation was complete. Read the full interview with Craig here 

Scott: The collaboration with Yster SUP came about purely by chance, Craig saw your article online about 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 visited Per in Sweden and local paddleboarding hub, SUP Malmo, what a lovely guy and his boards are amazing.

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! Read the full interview with Scott here.

Explore Yster SUP quiver at and follow the brand on Facebook and Instagram 

Follow Team SHAC Yukon 1000 on Instagram and Facebook 

Connect with Craig Sawyer on Instagram and follow The SUP Coach  

Connect with Scott ‘Skip’ Innes on Instagram and follow The Shac 

*Professor Michael Adrian Stroud, OBE, FRCP, an expert on human health under extreme conditions

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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