Sean Rice off to the Arctic to defend title

Wednesday, 22 June 2011 07:11 | Written by 
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Sean Rice paddling in unusual surroundings! Sean Rice paddling in unusual surroundings!

Last year saw the first surfski race in the Arctic Circle – and South African Sean Rice won by over 20 minutes.  This year it may not be so easy…


The Arctic Sea Kayak Race is an annual event that has been running since 1991 – sea kayakers from all over Europe migrate to an old fishing station named Skipnes in the Lofoten/Vesteraalen region of northern Norway.  The sea kayakers set up camp for a week of training/instruction and racing.

In 2010 surfski paddlers were invited for the first time under the inspiration of 3 time Olympic medalist Eirik Larsen.

Sean Rice

With conditions like no other surfski race – 24hour sunlight; snow peaked mountains all around; cold water (although at 8-12C perhaps not as cold as you might expect) – South African Sean Rice found it a unique adventure.

Sean Rice and Eirik Larsen

Sean Rice (L) and Eirik Larsen

The course varies with the weather on the day; last year the paddlers had an out and back race.  “We paddled 2km on the flat before leaving the fjord for 10.5 km on the open sea,” said Sean Rice.  “But then we were hit by a storm that included lightning – a bolt hit an island about 100m away from me.”

The locals having run for shelter from the (unusual) lightning, Rice won by perhaps the biggest margin ever in a surfski race…

(Rice is one of the paddlers competing in this weekend's Dunlop Surfski World Cup in Durban, South Africa.)

2011 Event

The organisers have gone all out to promote this year’s race and they’re expecting a much bigger field.  The race takes place on 29 July, 2011.


The Sea Kayakers set up camp

Prize Money

The prize purse on offer includes:


  1. €3,000
  2. €1,500
  3. €1,000
  4. €500
  5. €300
  6. €200


  1. €3,000
  2. €1,500
  3. €1,000


Although the advertised distance is “approximately 32km”, this can vary; there are four possible courses mapped out for the race and last year's course was about 25km.

More information

Click here for the race brochure.  (1.7MByte pdf)

Click here for the race website.

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