Sweden's Seamasters Race: Get Red or Go Home

Thursday, 08 September 2011 09:06 | Written by  Oscar Chalupsky
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Black boat on a black sea - stealth Chalupsky... Black boat on a black sea - stealth Chalupsky... Credits: Tomas Enberg

Ask any old grizzled surf ski paddler, especially one who's done precious little training, and they'll tell you that downwind specialists don't grow old, they just look for bigger runs. The Seamasters race started at 12.00 on the Sunday and when I looked at Windguru in the morning I was very happy what I saw on the computer. This was confirmed at the race briefing in Arkosund the morning by Erik Wallgren who told me said that when he put out the Thule Buoy at the finish the waves were at least 2 - 2.5 meters.

Olympians

At 12.15pm we took off to the sound of the horn and I settled in behind Jonas Fager, a Swedish Olympic paddler out to the turning buoy.

Seamasters 2011

And they're off...

Oscar Chalupsky and Jonas Fager

...tucked in behind Jonas Fager

At my current level of fitness (or, should I say, unfitness) the pace hurt but I decided to stay on the wave so that I didn't give the guys too much lead before we hit the open ocean. We started in a flat bay, so riding wake was easy. To my left, Tommy Karls, (Silver medalist, 1000m K4, 1984 LA Olympics), surged ahead followed by another fleet Swedish paddler. Much to my surprise, when it got bumpy 2km from the start -- technical, side-on runs -- the two paddlers who'd tagged along for the ride started pulling ahead. I wasn't going to push myself so early, so even as Tommy grew smaller and smaller I kept my calm as there was still plenty of race course in front of us.

Downwind

As we turned the last island Tommy was now about 400-500 meter ahead and the two guys that had dropped me were about 50 meters ahead. It took me about four runs and I was next to them. They both had scarlet red faces and I knew they had been pulling very hard. I came past friendly and advised them that they should save their energy for later. Rest more and catch runs that catch you at the moment.

At this stage of the race the runs were fantastic and I knew it was just a matter of time before I caught up to Tommy. Sure enough I caught a few runs, cruising up to 15kph (9.5mph), and I sidled up to Tommy and began giving him some coaching in the art of wave riding. Like his two countrymen that I'd passed, he also had a slightly red face. "Rest more on the runs and don't go the whole way down the run," I shouted over the wind. "I am resting," he replied. But I pointed out that he was paddling twice as much as me. I decided to stay with Tommy as he knew the way and last year I messed up and nearly missed the one island!

Too old?  Too fat?  Too unfit?  Nope.

I was very impressed how fast Tommy has become in the runs. He is a perfect paddling machine with not a drop of fat on him and very fit. At the 10K mark I decided to push the pace, hoping not to blow. Tommy told me where to go and I started pushing but still looking behind to see if I was going the correct way. I was surprised how close he stayed. I kept seeing Tommy behind and left. I was happy with my line as the small runs where going away, right of where I wanted to go but the big runs were left of the spot I was aiming for. When I was out there thinking to myself, that these runs were some of the most technical I had been in for a long time and if anybody could beat me in this field I must be too old, too fat and too unfit.

Seamasters 2011

Oscar approaches the finish

Seamasters 2011

...followed by Tommy Karls

Seamasters 2011

"There I was..." - war stories, always an essential part of the race

I was happy to see the safety boat to confirm I was on the correct line and that I was comfortably 300m ahead of Tommy. Once I could see the finishing lighthouse I realized the current or my bad navigation seemed to have pushed me away from the finish and if anybody has taken an inside line I could have be in trouble. Having seen my Garmin route after the race, it wasn't as bad as I thought when I was out there. The last 3-4 km were super technical and everybody that hadn't done much downwind struggled badly in the last 3-4 km.

When I hit the finish line ahead I was very relieved that I had avenged my loss last year to Tommy. I haven't raced for many months and I was happy I had a good race with no problems and thank goodness the wind and runs came as Tommy was super tough at the start with the smaller runs.

True downwind: surfski paddling as it should be

An important note to all race organizes is that the finish was on the cliff's in the middle of nowhere and then we had to paddle 3km back, in totally flat water, to where the prize giving and clubhouse was. Funny on the paddle back to the clubhouse I couldn't keep up with guys paddling slowly, I had caught weed and if we had the race to the clubhouse, with hot showers and a Sauna, I might have lost! Also that we paddled 25km and the follower and seconds, in their cars, had to drive 85km from the start to the finish!!!!!! This was a true downwind race and the Scandinavians are improving fast and getting to experience true downwind racing and surfski paddling as it should be.

Seamasters 2011

NOTE: Erik Wallgren was a great organizer and I am sure next year we might see a few more races in Scandinavia that are true surfski races!!

It is very encouraging to see how the Swedish race has grown over the years from 7 people 4 years ago to 50 this year. This was even with the Nelo race going on the same time.

This year was no exception with the Swedish hospitality of Erik Wallgren and his family that hosted Boyan, Svetlin and myself.

Results - Seamasters (Swedish Surfski Championships 2011)

1.Oscar Chalupsky 01.42.53 
2.Tommy Karls 01.45.46
3.Oskar Ahlgren 01.46.46 
4.Steffen Burkhardt 01.51.38 
5.Paul Rosenquist 01.52.50
6.Jonas Fager 01.53.44 
7.Lutz Erichsen 01.55.50 
8.Fredrik Wangler 01.56.40 
9.Stefan Magnusson 01.56.40 
10.Ola Ström 01.59.13 
11.Kimmo Latvamäki 02.00.04 
12.Per Lindén 02.00.49 
13.Johan Skärskog 02.02.19 
14.Max Bornhöft 02.02.44 
15.Martin Nordstrand 02.03.00 
16.Olle Lindeberg 02.03.32 
17.Christian Dientz 02.06.27 
18.Mats Berglund 02.07.03 
19.Jens Thorild 02.08.21 
20.Boyan Zlatarev 02.08.33
21.Jonas Hollander 02.14.21 
22.Hannes Jonscher 02.23.59 
23.Peter Ekström 02.27.19 
24.Christer Sjölund 02.32.26 
25.Roland Ahinko 02.32.29 
26.Peter Karlsson 02.32.35 
27.James Löfberg 02.35.21
28.Leif Davidsson 02.37.15 
29.Daniel Svenvik 02.38.44 
30.Niklas Stenberg 02.39.26 
31.Magnus Olofsson 02.44.43 
32.Per Ahlström 02.46.45
33.Bengt Lundgren 02.48.06 
34.Martin Stober 03.03.03 
35.Richard Holm 03.05.03 
36.Mats Lindgren 03.10.17
37.Björn Haring 03.23.46
38.Fredrik Adilstam 03.30.13 
Gunnar Larsby DNF 
Björn Jonsson DNF 
Lars Wahlström DNS 
Jonas Ericson DNS 
Martin Svensson DNS 
Joakim Gerhardsson DNS 
Petter Björnskär DNS 
Jens Bond DNS 
Björn Lilja DNS 
Jonas Andersson DNS 
Erik Wildenstam DNS

Surfski Women

1.Linda Nyberg 02.52.37 
2.Jeanie Sandqvist 02.54.14 
3.Karolina Silfverberg 03.15.04

Surfski Double

1.Emma Nilsson/Jens Webster 02.16.41

Outrigger

1.Team Pelle 02.26.29


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