Cool winter paddling

Yesterday I went out for a downwind paddling trip togheter with my friend Jens. Average winds 16 m/s (31 kt) with top winds of 21 m/s (41 kt). Water temperature + 1 C (34 F),¬† Air temperature -1 C (30 F) and heavy snowing. Great fun but I wish I was on the southern hemisphere…

Winter paddling in Sweden. I had to swim a few times. Good clothing with good insulation is essential. I use a dry suit from Ursuit. Neoprene gloves and hood.

New Year Paddling

Finally is the weather decent enough to do some kayaking. Just in time for the new year and the winter… My friends Pia, Erik, Patric and I had a great paddling in G√∂teborg Archipelago. The days between christmas and new years eve is pretty soft at work. I could work from “home” and my home yesterday was Val√∂!¬† A great way of ending the paddling and working year. ūüôā

Happy new year everybody. Let 2012 be a great year for kayaking!

The sunset was magnificent.

Dramatic clouds but hardly any wind.

Pia is paddling her green Skim kayak. When she is not paddling, hardly ever happens, she is creating really nice silver jewelry.

Sunrise at Valö

The winter is coming closer. Frost on the deck this morning.

Patric has bought a new kayaking hat! Orange…

I had to break through some ice to get ashore.

Great weather but the ice will make it harder for me to launch the kayak the next coming months. Today it was easy to break through.

Arctic Sea Kayak Race

The Arctic Sea Kayak Race is a paddling event held in the archipelago of Vester√•len, Norway, in the end of July every year. ASKR as it’s commonly called has been arranged since 1991. It started as a project among friends who paddled together and lived in Vester√•len. They really liked kayaking together but they needed a reason to meet in the winter months when the darkness and more colder weather gave less opportunities for kayaking.

Kayaking in Norway is great! Kayaking in Vester√•len is no exception.Vester√•len is located just north of the Lofoten Archipelago, in Nordland, Norway. It is not okay to equate Vester√•len with Lofoten. It’s like saying to a Dutchman that they are from Belgium. ūüôā

I have been kayaking in Norway several times before. This year my friends Maria, Patric and I decided to visit the ASKR.
We traveled by car from Göteborg in Sweden to Vesterålen. The journey to and from Vesterålen is a long trip, 24 hours non stop driving. The trip through Sweden is a perfect opportunity to observe how our beautiful nature changes. I can highly recommend it.

We arrived at Vesterålen the day before registration started and we stayed the night at the Sortland Camping. Sortland is the capital of Vesterålen with about 9500 inhabitants. Registration is held in Skjellfjords small harbour just 10 km west of Sortland. Upon registration we definitely decided for the activity we had preliminary booked in advance. There are three different activities to choose from. ASKR Ramble is a three-day guided tour of Vesterålen with day trips at about 10 Р20 km. ASKR Long Ramble is a three-day guided tour with longer day trips, about 30-40 km around a major part of the Vesterålen archipelago . The third option available is a sea kayaking course, the ASKR Camp, which starts from the picturesque fishing village Skipnes. Skipnes is also the finish for both the short and long ramble. After observing weather forecasts and getting some advice from the organisers, we decided to participate in the long ramble.

Once we had unloaded the kayaks and parked the car in Skjellfjords harbour, we could paddle to the first night camp on Sunday evening.

On the website of ASKR you can find information about the climate in Vester√•len. It may vary. The temperature differ from 8 to 25 degrees Celsius during this time of year. The registration day was really nice with clear blue sky, sunshine and a temperature above 20 degrees. But the first paddling day became gray and cold. We paddled in probably one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords, but because we had a thick fog, we could only guess how beautiful it was. This stage was also the longest on the ramble. It was approx 38 km paddle. The opportunities to go ashore was limited, at least for a group of 35 kayakers. The time in our kayaks became quite long. When the weather is a little less nice, it is important that everyone in the group keep time for the launch and during stops so that no one should have to wait and risk of freezing. That was the only major concern I had for paddling with such a large group but it worked surprisingly well. The guides had good control even though we were 35 kayakers. When we came ashore on Gaukvaer√∂ya the first evening, clouds began to ease and eventually crack up completely. Then we got our reward for the entire day’s hard work.

The scenery from Gaukvaer√∂ya was stunningly beautiful. After supper we gathered by a campfire, where the guides informed us about the environment and tomorrow’s stage.

We woke up to sunshine and clear blue sky. The paddling from Gaukvaer√∂ya was varied and fun.¬† The first day’s dreary weather was completely forgotten. The remaining two days we paddled in fine weather with light winds. The pace during the ride was relatively high for being such a large group but we also had time to explore and play some in the whitewater close to islets. If you are interested in paddling the long rambe, make sure to do some paddling before attending. We were very lucky with the wind and the current. If we would had headwind and countercurrent it would have felt much harder. If you are not that frequent with your paddling I recommend the shorter Ramble.

The paddling continued and we came to more amazing places. √Ösand was our guide’s favourite spot, which was not hard to understand. A long white sandy beach with great views from the tent sites. The guides were very good at bringing together all participants every evening in front of a campfire. There, they gave information about the area and the next day’s trip. They also created a pleasant atmosphere where we as participants got to know each other a little better. The participants came from different parts of Norway, a large group from Denmark, a brave Italian and we were four from Sweden.

The long tour passes quite exposed coastlines. North Atlantic waves can grow significantly here. The tide is also significant here. It can be as much as three meter between high and low tide. It requires a security approach that we are not so accustomed to in Sweden. Therefore, there was a following boat close to the group and when we paddled one part that was exposed we also had some coastguard vessels not very far away.

The wildlife is fascinating in Norway. We saw eagles and porpoises every day. Lots of seabirds. We passed an island with thousands of puffins flying back and forth searching for food. There was a herd of killer whales in the area that we unfortunately never saw but we saw white sided dolphins that was playful. The last day of the tour, we paddled into the old fishing village of Skipnes. The last kilometre into Skipnes we paddled traditionally in a V-formation. Here we met up with the participants from the short ramble and those who had done the sea kayaking course. Skipnes is a small fishing village that is very isolated. The only way to get here is by sea or air. Here is also the heart of the ASKR located. It is an idyllic place with only a few houses and sheds. When participating in the ASKR it is possible to rent huts in Skipnes. We stayed at a campsite above the village with magnificent view of the surrounding areas. After arriving on wednesday a dinner was held in the local restaurant for all who participated in the ASKR.

Thursday was a day off from paddling to prepare for the Friday’s two kayaking competitions. Some chose a soft day and spend time on in Skipnes to care for their blisters. Others made an top tour to the nearby mountain top, Tinden. A fun kayak building competition was held in the harbour. We were divided into different groups. Each group had to nominate three participants who received a large piece of cardboard, a wooden board, tape, a couple of knives and pens. The task was to build a kayak in 15 minutes which later should be used in a kayak race. An entertaining and fun competition. Only one of four kayaks managed to finish but all participants tried to make is as long as possible.

Friday is the last day of the ASKR and is the official day of competition. For several years the competition has been a marathon for sea kayakers. Now, is also a Surfski race held. For the second consecutive year, ASKR organised a race in the International Canoe Federation Surfski World Cup. This year the competition attracted three great surfski paddlers. Dawid Mocke from South Africa, Sean Rice also from South Africa and Joep van Bakel from Holland. The Surfski Race this year became a struggle between these three in which Sean Rice followed up last year’s victory and finishing in front of Dawid Mocke and Joep van Bakel.

The entire ASKR ends with a very nice banquet. Great local food and a very fun host. Participants in the races was awarded with generous prizes. A brand new sea kayak is the first prize in a lottery among all participants in the ASKR. The draw for the kayak was determined in a very exiting and entertaining way. To sum it up. The whole experience was very good. A good arrangement, fun paddling in wonderful surroundings and new friends from all over Europe. If I’m going back? Absolutely! Maybe not every year, because of the distance from G√∂teborg. This is a thing you should have on your to do list, especially if you are a paddler from Scandinavia.

Paddling Magazine

Today is a new issue of the magazine paddling out in the stores in Sweden. I have written an article about kayaking in Arctic Norway.¬†We participated in a kayaking event called Arctic Sea Kayak Race. It is held in Vester√•len, Norway in the end of July every year. Buy Paddling magazine and read about it! ūüôā I will write about it here as well in the next coming week. This issue also covers the Tj√§r√∂festivalen where Gordon Brown, Dubside and Nigel Foster participated as intructors.

Read about the Arctic Sea Kayak Race and Tjäröfestivalen

More pictures and info about the ASKR will be published the next coming week.

Gray paddling

With very light winds from the east became today’s paddling a joy compared to last week’s paddling against the wind. My friends Fredrik and Patric were off on a long trip with an overnight stay. Unfortunately, I had other plans for the evening so I followed them about 10 km south before I returned home.
It was fun to see Fredrik again. He is paddling a Legend designed by Nigel Foster.
A few rays reaching through the clouds and lights up in a typical gray weather for the season
Fredrik and Patric is heading south.

Testing a drysuit

Trent, Patric and I paddled to Valö today. It was quite hard because we had both the wind and the current against us! I have started to test a drysuit from Ursuit. It feels really good to have a drysuit when it is getting colder in the water.


Trent is heading home and it is getting dark.


Ursuit makes drysuits for paddling and sailing

Pictures and movie from Tjäröfestivalen

Tjäröfestivalen 2011 was held at the island of Tjärö in south of Sweden and was a great success to the organizers. About 200 participants from all over Scandinavia and Europe attended the festival. I have put together a videoclip with pictures from the event. A full report will be published later on this week.

Danish paddler guarding the festival! ūüôā (photo by Gabriella)

Gordon Brown was one of the instructors this year. Now in a Play from Arrow kayaks.

Nigel Foster is back in Sweden. This year with a new haircut… ūüôā

Dubside is cooling down. He had many participants in his classes.


Long distance paddlers

It is all about kayaking and rowing adventures at the moment. Two days ago I wrote about Fylkir S√¶varsson’s record attempt in circumnavigation Denmark. Now I have been told about more ongoing or planned long kayaking adventures or rowing adventures undertaken by experienced paddlers.

Chris Duff, the first person to circumnavigate Great Britain alone in 1986 has just started a rowing trip from Scotland to Iceland via Orkney, Shetland and Faeroe Islands. He has a custom-built row boat called the ‚ÄúNorthern Reach‚ÄĚ.

Three experienced paddlers, Patrick Winterton, Mick Berwick and Olly Hicks will start a kayak trip from the Shetland Islands to Norway in a couple of days. It will take at least 4 days and three nights to do the crossing. The major concern  is ensuring to stay together during the nights as well as the cold, injury, sea sickness and shipping.

The British kayaking instructor and adventurer Simon Osborne will take part in a rowing  together with Marin Medak and Nikkie Brown, across the Atlantic, Atlantic Row 2012. Simon Osborne is running Sea kayaking Cornwall together with Jeff Allen.  Simon is an experienced kayaker and has circumnavigated both Ireland and England. This will be different and requires a different approach and preperations. Sleep deprivation, salt sores and fatigue must be some concerns for the team.

Surfski test – Zedtech Griffin

Some days ago my friend Patric and I went to Marstrand to test ZedTech Griffin Surfski. Patric has recently been in New Zeeland where he tested a few surfskis and when he got back home to Sweden he was eager to try a surfski here. Although it is getting cold in Sweden, we set off to Marstrand to try the ZedTech Griffin. We picked up the surfski at the company Paddelkraft, which imports the kayaks to Sweden.

It was freezing cold so I didnt try the surfski. Why try a surfski for the first time during winter? ¬†I thought it was too cold in the water and I¬†had¬†no¬†desire¬†to¬†swim. I¬†had the opportunity to¬†play¬†with¬†the camera instead. ūüôā

Read Patrics impressions and his short review of the ZedTech Griffin.

“Some words, too many I know ūüôā

My name is Patric and I’m a paddler who doesn’t have a background in kayak racing. But I have been active, and very happy, in quite “fast kayaks”. My main paddling hours have been made in sea kayaks, quite narrow sea kayaks that is.

“Fast kayaks”, firstly, that is if I compare to any normal sea kayak. And secondly, “fast” is not really the correct word for me. It’s not a matter of speed, but the feeling of flow. Just like I love a loaded tourbike for a multiday tour – I love a strong and sweaty trip on my light racer. Just as I like the slow and persistent walk with a backpack in the mountains – I do l like running. To enjoy a fast kayak for me is as the trip on the bicycle racer or the run. It’s really a different animal compared to the sea kayak.

I have owned the danish kayak Escape, it’s like a Zedtech TT or a Nelo Viper 51, and I have used it for intense trips in the Gothenburg Archepelago. I have been very pleased with the low resistance and the ergonomics in that kayak. But I have never felt really secure with regards to getting up in the kayak again. This have somewhat hindered my development and pleasure. At the same time this have given me adrenalin and on-the-limit-experiences… ūüôā The Escape have anyhow been av very good kayak to me. So far.

I have lately tried a few surf skis. I tried the the Epic V10 Sport and the Epic V10L in New Zealand. The basic go-nogo-question to be answered first was if I even like sitting “naked”… And that was okey. First question was about stability… And if that hadn’t been good enough for me, it would of course become the basic question in a very obvious way. ūüôā Second question about ergonomics and third about the flow, or “fast”, or my feelings on the match between my power and the resistance. I never use any other tool than my feelings when doing sports. I don’t compete, I just enjoy. ūüôā

The Epic kayaks did get good points on everything but the last and third question. I believe that the Sport was a bit to wide and stable to be really “fast” for me. And the V10L is probably a bit too long for my strength. At least in flat water. But since I don’t live in Hawaii, South Africa or Australia I reckon I don’t need to bother too much about the surf on the ocean swell. I’m not aming at the Surf in Surf Ski, rather the Ski-part with an easy remount.

Ok, that was a long introduction.

I’m very pleased with the little test day in Marstrand. I got, again, a very good impression from Magnus Sivenbrant at Paddelkraft, he has been helpful before. I’m happy with the weather direction generating almost no waves which is good for a start a kayak like this. We started of with some minor hardware issues which I’m also greatful for, now in hindsight. It made me try out my balance a bit more. Ok, ok, ok….no more words…. What about that darn surf ski?

Well, the Zedtech Griffin is my kayak. Or rather, my kayak to become. At least if the good dialogue with Sivenbrant continue, which I do believe… ūüôā

The Griffin felt great.

It was tippy the very first minute. But it felt, surprisingly, a lot more stable just some minutes later. I didn’t have any problem at all with the stability in the absence of waves. And I have some waves in New Zealand in my memory, and I feel safe to say that the “wave-thing” is a totally different thing in a Surf Ski than in a Escape. Then the ergonomics; yes I could work it with my legs. You can even see this in the little film. I did not sit to deep as in the large majority of the sea kayaks, which for me leads to a bent lower back and a hindered motion. I sat very good. And the kayak felt “fast”. Just as easy to paddle, resistance-wise (for me that is), as the Escape. And a bit or two easier than the Epics I tried. I did really like the sharp and narrow fore, that’s a wonderful sight from the cockpit.

What about the rest? Hrm… I would like to have a less colorful kayak. I normally fall in love with white kayaks or black&white kayaks. And I cannot really enjoy being a billboard for Paddelkraft and Zedtech. Not that I like these companies, I do, but I even more like kayaks (or bikes, jackes, etc) as they are in their raw shape without advertiments, logos or different patterns.

What more? Yeah, I do wonder how I will solve some kind of storage in my Griffin. That process will contain a big hole somewhere and a lid to the same hole. And a solution that makes my over-night-stuff dry on the way to the island Valö. Still to be solved.

So now I’m waiting for Christmas Eve and the big old generous Mr Santa Claus. No, I can and must handle without him… ūüôā I’m only waiting for the demo kayaks to come back to Paddelkraft. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and my paddling muscels active.

It’s been a long time since I longed so much for the paddling season to begin again.”

Here is more info from The Swedish Surfski Community Global Surfski about the surfski from Zedtech.

Thanks a lot Patric!