“We had excellent conditions for Sweden,” said Karls. “Although the wind dropped, there were still plenty of waves and you really had to focus.”
The previous day saw 3m swells and 30kt winds and although the wind died just before the race, there was plenty of movement in the water. (Too much movement for six paddlers who ended up giving the rescue teams some work to do.)
“The waves were coming from two angles,” said Karls, “and if you concentrated you could keep going from one set to the other.” But for those paddlers who lost focus, or who simply didn’t have the skills, it felt like a confused mess.
Karls took the lead from the start, with top Swedish marathon paddler Jacob Holst in hot pursuit. Karls didn’t let the younger man past and when they hit rough water some 2km into the race, Holst, unused to paddling in waves, dropped out of contention.
Tommy Karls lead from the start
Oscar Chalupsky, seen more on a golf course than a ski in recent months, knew his only chance would come in the downwind section. “By the time we reached the turning buoy about 6km into the race,” he said, “I was in about 20th place. And then I took the wrong course around an island and lost time.”
Chalupsky charges past Martin Nordstrand
Downwind skills required
At the front Karls was making no mistakes. “I just tried to find a good steady rhythm and not lose too much energy. Just trying to race smart – catching every wave that I could.”
Downwind experience was key – and Paul Rosenquist, Erik Verduyckt, Gleb Greben and Jonas Fager soon overtook Jacob Horst... and all the while Chalupsky, widely regarded as one of the best downwind paddlers ever, was carving his way through the fleet.
Here's Oscar Chalupsky's GPS track:
In the end Karls won by just over five minutes – and crossed the line with huge smile on his face. As they approached the line, Norwegian Gleb Greben put in a huge effort to catch Chalupsky but crossed the line into third place just 5 seconds behind the big South African.
A tremendous tussle for fourth place saw Paul Rosenquist beating Erik Verduyckt (Belgium) by only 2 seconds.
“I’m not so strong on flat water,” said Karls, “but in the waves I’m more and more relaxed and I think I’m getter better all the time. My focus these days is to be fit enough to have fun in extreme conditions.”
“It was a great course,” said Chalupsky. “A really well run event.
“It’s amazing to see how many different skis are here. Everything from Point65 to Epic to Nelo to Zedtech.”
Tommy Karls (1st) and Oscar Chalupsky (2nd)
Swedish paddler Elin Hedström beat defending champion Eva Mauk (USA) by over three minutes, with Caroline Holmqvist (Sweden) coming in third.
The surfski paddlers were joined by two OC6s who dominated in the volume category – with their concerted war cries, and aroused admiration for their speed and precise paddling. A couple of indomitable sea kayaks paddled the course too, arriving nearly an hour after the first surfski (but some distance ahead of the last ski!)
For more info and photos, see www.seamasters.se
Update - Paul Rosenquist's Comments
It was the best day for surfsking in scandinavia ever!
We had a great vibe all day and the conditions were great. The wind unfortunately dropped but we had lots of stuff to work with. Big swell going in different directions; some semi- side-wind; small islands; a 25km straight line with lots of different lines to choose.
Tommy and the marathon guys steam off to my left. To my right a pack of ski paddlers, mostly foreigners, including Oscar. I stick to my line in between and stubornly focus on bumps and not on riding wake.we have 3km of rather protected water and I see my HR is pretty steady at 190bpm. I see Oscar slip back after 1km. He's gone.
Then the bumps come. Ahead of me I see many skis, but I feel confident. As I start figuring out the bumps, I pass ski after ski. My motto is to paddle as little as possible as I haven't paddled 25km once this year without hitting the wall and having to swim and rest.
I still see Tommy pretty far ahead, and he's dropping the fastest marathon guy. They are pretty far to my right and I set for a super straight line thru some small island/rock groups. I am hoping that the groundswell will build bigger and steeper between the rocks. And it does! I'm having a ball gliding along at 17kph. I look right and feel that after these islands I will have passed all but Tommy.
But then comes a speedboat and the race organisers telling me I have to pass the island on the right side... I mentally just shrug it off... it's too nice a paddle to get pissed off. I backtrack 500meters and paddle back around the island. Screw it, just catch rides!
A while later I catch up with the fastest marathon guy (no 4 world rank), and he is working hard... I sit beside him for a while and admire his fantastic powerfull strokes. Then I notice I'm not even paddling... I ask, "how's it going?" "How much longer?" and he's panting badly... "9,5 km," I reply. I take some good strokes and luckily catch a really fast swell and give him 3 lengths in just a few seconds.
Oscar back in the mix
A bit later I see a familiar sight further out to my right... a black ski, deep in the water, big hunchbacked silhouette in the middle, paddle down on the water...Oscar.. He caught up at least a km on us. I laugh. Luckily 4km left, I spot two skis and dig in. The last two km are for me a sprint, exchanging waves with the Belgian guy. Arms close to cramping out. Just 500 left and I decide on an all or nothing move.. I catch a wave that I would never attempt otherwise and it pays off immediately. I hop onto two more, and I'm clear. 4th place. I'm not sure but a few minutes behind Oscar. Between us a nice Russian guy that just moved to Norway from Dubai where he learned ski paddling.
A great day out!
- Tommy Karls, Sweden, 01.50.09
- Oscar Chalupsky, South Africa, 01.55.19
- Gleb Greben, Norway, 01.55.24
- Paul Rosenquist, Sweden, 01.57.06
- Erik Verduyckt, Belgium, 01.57.08
- Jonas Fager, Sweden, 01.57.47
- Magnus Sivenbrand, Sweden, 01.58.35
- Jacob Holst, Sweden, 01.59.58
- Luke Chalupsky, South Africa, 02.00.19
- Fredrik Wangler, Sweden, 02.00.23
- Boyan Zlatarev, Bulgaria, 02.00.28
- Roland Lebeau, France, 02.03.00
- Danny Hallmén, Sweden, 02.08.10
- Christian Dietz, Sweden, 02.09.03
- Per Holst, Sweden, 02.09.23
- Martin Nordstrand, Sweden, 02.09.36
- Jonas Hollander, Sweden, 02.10.10
- Jens Thorild, Sweden, 02.13.20
- Scott Cole, Sweden, 02.13.23
- Markus Perrevoort, Germany, 02.14.05
- Petter Björnskär, Sweden, 02.14.05
- Niclas Stenberg, Sweden, 02.15.27
- Mattias Thernström, Sweden, 02.18.41
- Olof Sundström, Sweden, 02.19.19
- Hilmar Erlingsson, Iceland, 02.25.43
- Leif Davidssson, Sweden, 02.30.14
- Klas Bergerstam, Sweden, 02.30.30
- Mats Berglund, Sweden, 02.39.27
- Jonas Ericson, Sweden, 02.42.39
- Katri Malmström, Finland, 02.44.28
- Peter Karlsson, Sweden, 03.01.29
- Henrik Vuorinen, Sweden, 03.03.14
- Robert Lundgren, Sweden, 03.04.12
- DNF Lars Wahlström, Sweden
- DNF Erik Wildenstam, Sweden
- DNF Roland Ahinko, Finland
- DNF Oskar Biskop, Åland
- DNF Kaj Johansson, Sweden
- DNF Guido Westhoff, Germany
- DNS Jari Palonen, Sweden
- DNS Daniel Svenvik, Sweden
- DNS Karsten Haugstad, Norway
- DNS Rui Aguiar, Portugal
- DNS Diogo Fazenda, Portugal
- DNS Jose maria Donoso Buerba, Spain
- DNS Jürgen Brings, Germany
- DNS Orlando Silva, Portugal
- DNS Erik Barkefors, Sweden
- DNS Keith Keillor, USA
- DNS Fredrik Lindström, Sweden
- DNS Ivan Lawler, UK
- DNS Alvaro Fiusa, Spain
- DNS Rauli Rautavuori, Finland
- DNS Pär Dilot, Sweden
- DNS Conny Edholm, Sweden
- DNS Per Fredin, Sweden
- DNS Niclas Levinson, Sweden
- DNS Anders Stenvall, Sweden
- DNS Michael Porath, Sweden
- DNS Magnus Hultqvist, Sweden
- DNS Richard Holm, Sweden
- Elin Hedström, Sweden, 02.15.18
- Eva Mauck, USA, 02.18.50
- Caroline Holmqvist, Sweden, 02.30.22
- DNS Linda Nyberg, Sweden
- DNS Jeanie Sandqvist, USA
- Team 1, Sweden, 02.06.21
- Team 2, Sweden, 02.15.13
- Christer Sjölund, Finland, 02.44.43
- Jonas Sääv, Sweden, 02.51.24
- DNS Björn Malmqvist, Sweden