First test of Fenn Swordfish

March 25, 2012

I have tested the Fenn Swordfish. The Swordfish is the newest surfski from Fenn. When I was working in Stockholm last week I had the opportunity to borrow a Fenn Swordfish. I just had a short trip in very calm conditions but it gave me a great feeling and I’m eager to try it more. Compared to my surfski, a Fenn XT, it felt a lot faster, less stable but still very stable. I tried the Fenn Mako 6 earlier last week and the Swordfish is much more stable. In the Mako 6 I had to use brace strokes many times (more wind and waves) but in the Swordfish I felt safe and could focus on getting forward. The sit comfort wasn’t great but that was proberbly due to the seat was padded on both sides. I will try the Swordfish even more sometime in the next coming weeks. Then I will give a more detailed report.

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Jens is paddling his Fenn Swordfish in Stockholm city.

Cool winter paddling

January 22, 2012

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.

Kayak year 2011 in retrospect

January 2, 2012

2011 was a great year for paddling. Here are some of my best kayak trips from the past year.

February

Still winter in Sweden. The winter was really long and cold during 2011. I bought a new kayak and my Qanik from Seabird arrived in mid february and no chance to paddle it until late march.

April

Fjällbacka is one of the most beautiful archipelagos in Sweden. We did a great trip in the end of april. Cold but beautiful. Read more about Paddling in Fjällbacka Archipelago

May

I tried a surfski for the first time and I got stucked. Surfski is great fun. Later on I bought a surfski. Read more about Surfski Spring Camp.

A new competition in paddling was held in the harbour of Göteborg at the same day as the world biggest half marathon in Göteborg. I didn’t compete but I got some great photos. Maybe I will compete in May!? :) Read more about Paddelvarvet.

June

My friend Maria and I went for a weekend trip in well known water. This is normally a period when I hardly do any kayaking due to my allergy. Great weather and some new spots discovered. Gothenburg archipelago is really great for paddling. Read more about Paddling in Göteborg Archipelago.

July

The Gothenburg Canoe Association (GKF) had an evening with two really good sprint kayakers who gave us instructions. read more about the Paddling instructions event.

The annual kayak gathering at Valö south of Gothenburg was greatas usual. There was a kayak incident that turned out well. Read more about the Valöträffen.

North of the arctic circle is a great kayak event held every year. We attended for the first time. Loved it! :) Read more about Arctic Sea Kayak Race.

August

Paddling in Lofoten

Paddling holiday

September

The best kayak symposium i have ever been to. Nigel Foster, Gordon Brown, Dubside and many more. Great Instructors, great arrangement and great weather. Read more about the Tjäröfestivalen.

October

I have been more into surfski during the fall than ordinary sea kayaking. Read more about Testing a drysuit andsearching for waves.

November

November was a month with hardly any paddling at all. We had a weekend of gray paddling. Read more about the gray Weekend paddling.

December

The year ended with great weather and we had a beautful paddling trip to Valö. Read more about the paddling trip.

 

 

Arctic Sea Kayak Race

November 19, 2011

The Arctic Sea Kayak Race is a paddling event held in the archipelago of Vesterålen, 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 Vesterålen. 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 Vesterålen is no exception.Vesterålen is located just north of the Lofoten Archipelago, in Nordland, Norway. It is not okay to equate Vesterålen with Lofoten. It’s like saying to a Dutchman that they are from Belgium. :)

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 – 20 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 Vesterålen. 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 Gaukvaeröya 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 Gaukvaeröya 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 Gaukvaeröya 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. Åsand 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 Göteborg. This is a thing you should have on your to do list, especially if you are a paddler from Scandinavia.

Paddling Magazine

November 8, 2011

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 Vesterålen, Norway in the end of July every year. Buy Paddling magazine and read about it! :) I will write about it here as well in the next coming week. This issue also covers the Tjäröfestivalen 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.

Kayakrtoon

October 30, 2011

A soft weekend at Valö in Göteborg Archipelago. Good friends, wine, food, some paddling, relaxing and just having a good time! And obviously too much time…

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Searching for waves

October 9, 2011

Last week has been really long because I have been longing to paddle my new surfski. The forecast was really good for surfski paddling today with winds from north about 10 m/s (37 km/h or 20 knots). Trent Victor and I decided to paddle downwind  from Göteborg. My friend Maria was really nice and agreed to pick us up about 20 km south of Göteborg. When we arrived at the harbour the were hardly any wind at all. We changed our plans and went searching for waves from the bigger boats in the archipelago instead.

Trent Victor in the harbour after the paddle trip. I forgot to bring the camera today. This is taken with my iPhone.

We got some really nice runs from the waves produced of a couple of boats. My top speed was 19,4 km/h (12.1 miles/h).  New record to me! :) It is getting colder in the water. The temperatures is still ok but pretty soon the wet suit I’m using will be to thin. Trent is using a dry suit from Ursuit that looks really nice for surfski paddling. I have ordered a different drysuit from Ursuit that I think is more suitable both for seakayaking and surfski paddling.

Links

Ursuit drysuits

A new kayak, a surfski

October 2, 2011

I have bought a new kayak, a surfski. After testing a number of surfskis recently, it’s a process in choosing a surfski, I decided for a surfski from Fenn Kayaks, the Mako XT. I really like the mix of stability, the speed and the sit comfort in the Mako XT. Surfsking is a new way of kayaking for me. I’m turning 39 next year and this is a part to prepare myself before my mid-life crisis start. Some people buy a fancy car or a HD. I bought a surfski! :)

My new Fenn Mako XT (Photo: Jens Webster)

Jens Webster in his Fenn Elite SL. I bought my Fenn Mako XT from Fenn.no. Jens is the Swedish distributor to Fenn.no. Thanks for all the help and support! :)

Pictures and movie from Tjäröfestivalen

September 5, 2011

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! :) (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… :)

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

 

Surfski World Cup in Norway

July 29, 2011

In beautiful Vesterålen, Norway, the Arctic Sea Kayak Race has been ongoing for a week with different activities. Today was the final day with the ICF World Cup Surfski race as the main event.

Last year’s winner Sean Rice together with Dawid Mocke and Joep van Bakel was the favourites for todays race. Sean reported to be ill for some day and had some concerns but he felt much better this morning.

Straight from the start Dawid, Sean and Joep took the top three positions. Today Sean was the strongest. Sean was really happy after the finish. His plan and tactic worked out very well.

Sean Rice 1.49.46
Dawid Mocke 1.53.27
Joep Van Bakel 1.53.51
Gleb Greben 2.02.14
Fredrik Ness 2.05.06

 

Sean Rice

Joep van Bakel

Dawid Mocke

The start at the ASKR Surfski race

Audun Sletten from Norway in his Nelo Ski.

Gleb from Oslo is born in Russia

Fredrik from Norway finished at 5th place.

Joe and Mike from Minnesota, USA.

Gunnar from Norway in a Stellar Surfski

Sean Rice sprints

A happy winner

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