August 5, 2014
by Casper Steinfath

The Molokai Of Scandinavia: Casper Steinfath And His Band Of Danish Vikings Complete Epic “Strokes” Race

Some people call it the Scandinavian Molokai. Others simply call it “Strokes”. In only 3 years the phenomena known as Strokes has become the flagship Open Ocean race event in Northern Europe. This weekend saw the 3rd annual edition take place across 44 kilometers of wild Open Ocean from Sealand to Jutland in my home country of Denmark.

Strokes was the idea of Danish “SUP Madman” Folke Nørgaard, who felt we needed a big Open Ocean SUP race in Northern Europe. He was very inspired by the Molokai 2 Oahu race and wanted to do something similar here.

Of course weather and ocean conditions are just not the same here in Denmark as on Hawaii. Here in Scandinavia (aka “Viking Land”) conditions are wild and inconsistent – it can be nearly impossible to predict what the weather will be doing just a few hours from now.

Nonetheless, Folke still believed it possible and thereby gave life to the “Strokes” legacy.

Strokes Stand Up Paddle Race Denmark

Every edition of the event has attracted more and more paddlers. This year saw 19 brave paddlers line up for the start. The field included both male and female paddlers from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany. Even two OC1 paddlers showed up to race with us!

On 8:00 AM Saturday morning we began our 44km (27 mile) voyage across the wild Kattegat channel from Sealand to Jutland. The forecast had been very inconsistent, but in the end we lucked out with 15-20 knot downwind conditions. Everyone was excited but there as also a big portion of anxiety in the air! For many people this was an adventure outside of their comfort zone! We held hands before the start and wished each other the best of luck in our personal battles across the Kattegat.

On the water everything was cool. The bumps grew bigger the further we got into the race. After an hour I was surfing shoulder high bumps and having a blast! The wind direction was nearly perfect and we only had to do minor adjustments to stay on course.

Only near the end we had to fight a great deal of side current that started pushing us of course. Being tired and fighting against current is not a fun combination…

I remember pulling out every last bit of energy as I battled my last few kilometers to the finish line. It was brutal, but the feeling of crossing the finish line in first place after 4 hours and 16 minutes at sea was simply fantastic!

Strokes is more than a race. It is a personal challenge to overcome mental and physical barriers. Coming in first or last did not matter. We all came in with the same feeling of accomplishment, fatigue and stoke.

The look on people’s faces when crossing the finish line was incredible! There was no question that everyone had faced the temptation of quitting while out at sea, but the drive and determination to keep going is what keeps amazing me.

Strokes is a voyage different to most other SUP races I have been in.

Here you have to navigate in the open ocean and you have to deal with challenging currents and waves. Not to mention the tanker ships you have to doge (even if you have the right of way :-). Being at sea by yourself, you have to deal with many unknown variables and make your own decisions. You learn to distinguish between real dangers and slight problems such as mental and physical discomfort.

I have tremendous respect for everyone who chose to paddle this weekend and pushed themselves to their very limits. It was an honor paddling with everyone.

I hope to see you all and many more for Strokes in 2015!

Strokes SUP Race denmark

Casper Steinfath Strokes Denmark SUP