Danish paddle surfer sweeps across sea to Norway

Danish stand up paddle surfer Casper Steinfath completed an unusual crossing of the Skagerrak sea between Denmark and Norway on Sunday.

Danish paddle surfer sweeps across sea to Norway
Danish stand up paddle surfer Casper Steinfath arrives in Kristiansand. Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Steinfath, 24, arrived in the Norwegian port city of Kristiansand after paddling 137 kilometres from Denmark while standing on his surfboard.

The stand up paddleboarder had left Hirtshals in Denmark just under 19 hours earlier.

“I really wanted to give up on the way. It was so tough and my body is completely empty right now. But I did it and it feels fantastic,” Steinfath said.

Stand up paddle surfing is an offshoot of surfing in which riders stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water, instead of sitting until a wave comes.

Steinfath completed the journey between the two Scandinavian countries just before 8pm on Sunday.

“The last four hours were an extreme struggle. I was paddling in a side wind and with a lot of current, but my brother was shouting from a support boat that I was going to do it, which helped me not to give up,” the Dane said.

The 24-year-old, who is a four-time world champion in the discipline, said preparations for the long trip had been difficult.

“Weather conditions are impossible to know in advance. Skagerrak is in charge and I just have to paddle,” he said.

A similar attempt to make the crossing in 2017 was aborted by Steinfath 12 kilometres short of the finishing line due to adverse weather.

“I prepared differently this time. For the last month I’ve been getting up at 3am to prepare my body for paddling in the dark and cold,” he said.

A dinghy with two lifeguards on board and a 12-person support boat were behind the Danish surfer as he made the crossing.

But no assistance, other than handing over food rations and moral support, was needed as the crossing was successfully completed.

At around 6pm on Sunday, press officer Ole Svarrer had warned that Steinfath was experiencing difficulties.

But the Danish surfer came through to complete the feat and arrive in Norway.

READ ALSO: Braving Norway's cold: Surfing above the Arctic Circle


In pictures: Surfing above the Arctic Circle in Norway

The 2019 Lofoten Masters surfing competition was held last week at the Bay of Unstad in the northwestern reaches of Norway.

In pictures: Surfing above the Arctic Circle in Norway
Indonesian surfer Edi Siswanto rides a Stand-Up Paddle Board (SUP) under the Northern Lights in Unstad. Photo: Olivier MORIN / AFP

The sea rises under the low, late summer sun, the wave climbs and curls and crashes, a figure emerges in a wetsuit, on a long board, and punches the air.  

Anker Olsen Frantzen,18, rides a wave. Photo: Olivier MORIN / AFP

His name is Anker Olsen Frantzen, just 18 years old and a native of the Bay of Unstad where the Lofoten Masters surfing competition is taking place. 

Anker is one of 29 surfers (eight female, 21 male) taking part in the 2019 edition of the Masters, the only competition to be held within the Arctic Circle at 68.9 degrees latitude.

Norway's surfer Ine Haugen, winner of the final of the open Lady Contest. Photo: Olivier MORIN / AFP

Lost in a network of fjords, the bay is stunningly beautiful, a haven for seabirds, a hideaway for humans.

Surfers look on at Unstad. Photo: Olivier MORIN / AFP

Its remoteness adds to its appeal. The Moskstraumen – or maelstrom – which forms in the archipelago has inspired writers since the Old Norse poems of ancient times. Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne both used it to dramatic effect in their stories “A Descent into the Maelstrom” and “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”.

Fortunately for today's surfers there is no sign of a whirlpool in Unstad.

A surfer carries his board as he walks to the judges truck. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP

Fair weather surfers who seek out the sun and big waves of Oahu or Tahiti or Jeffrey's Bay might blink at the conditions, although given the location inside the Arctic Circle they are relatively kind.

The dying embers of an Indian summer push the temperatures up to 17 degrees during the day with the ocean at 10 degrees. The high pressure means the waves are unusually small.

Surfing wetsuits and accessories dry at the end of the day. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP

Anker's grandfather Thor Frantzen is the godfather of surf in these parts.

Back in 1963, using the cover of The Beach Boys' album “Surfin' Safari”, released the previous year, as his guide, Thor built the first surfboard in Lofoten from a combination of fibreglass and newspaper.

Anker Olsen Frantzen poses with his grandfather Thor Frantzen, holding his 1963 self-made surfboard. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP

That summer of '63, he then set about learning to use it. And he has been surfing ever since.

But he has had to hand over the crown — last Saturday the Norwegian Ine Haugen took the women's title while Swedish professional Tim Latte was the best of the men.

Swedish surfer Tim Latte, rides a wave during the final of the Open Contest. Photo: Olivier MORIN / AFP

Oh, and grandson Anker won the longboard.

A longboard surfer walks to the water. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP

READ ALSO: Braving Norway's cold: Surfing above the Arctic Circle