Casper Steinfath is a legend in our great sport, hailing from Denmark he’s a huge Viking with a big heart, we chat to him about racing, cold water and his third ISA World Championships win!

Casper, you're probably one of the most famous paddlers to come out of the Europe and have dominated in all areas of SUP racing. You are the man of the moment...we also understand your organising the next  ISA worlds in Denmark.. tell us anything about that?

Thank you so much! It has definitely been a very special and crazy season for me. Coming from Europe I am really happy to just be able to mix it up with the Hawaiians, Americans and Australians on tour. Winning my 3rd ISA World Championship in Fiji was the perfect finalé to my season and I could not have asked for a better result leading into next year's ISA World Championship in Denmark! 

It is pretty crazy that the entire SUP world will be coming to my backyard from September 1-10. I think it will be an event people will remember for a long time, and one that really will put Europe on the map. It won't be an event to miss as we expect to break new participation records, so make sure to get your tickets to Denmark booked soon 😉

Also, anything else exciting you are working on?

The racing season may be over for now, but yeah I have always got a project or two going on. Next up I will be exchanging the tropic waters of Fiji with the freezing North Sea at home in Denmark. After being on the road for 4 months there is nothing I am more excited about than taking cold plunge at home with my brother and my mates!

So you just smashed it in Fiji, I imagine paddling somewhere like that, coming out of the European winter must have been pretty challenging, what did you do to prepare?

Fiji definitely was quite the contrast to the cold waters of Europe. It is always a challenge when changing from cold to warm climate and vice versa. I decided to arrive in Fiji a week early to acclimatize and get used to the scorching sun. It definitely helped a bit, but no matter how long time I would have spent there I don't think my Viking blood would have completely adapted. I'm ready to get back to the Danish freezer now!

Do you have a strict programme for training running up to an event like that, does it mainly involve paddling, or is there more to it?

I have found that to train and compete at a professional level requires quite a bit of training, determination and discipline. The ISA World Championship was my main focus for 2016 and my training already started back in January where my trainer and I set my plan for the year. My training involved lots of paddling, but also surfing and running. I like mixing it up to keep it fun and interesting.

If you were someone who enjoys paddling recreationally, but wants to take it to the next level, perhaps try some racing, what advice would you suggest in terms of kit, training, goals?

I think there are a lot of awesome things about racing no matter what level you are at! My advice would be to team up with someone more experienced in your community that is willing to share knowledge with you. The best thing is to have a "mentor" which is someone you can ask all the questions you have about gear, tactics and training. Take it in steps. Set small goals at first and keep changing them as you improve. I is important that you reflect and make it clear what your goals are. Make it a personal challenge and make sure to break a smile each session. You don't have to be world champion to be the one having the most fun on the water!

How should an average Joe approach a race season, enter lots and train for one or two, or keep it small to begin with?

Again keep in mind what your goals are and keep it simple at first. Training is important, but don't over train as that can lead to burnouts. Train smart and keep your focus intact. Maybe your goals should be to keep up with your mate from high school or your neighbor. Take each race as a learning experience and enjoy talking with the other racers afterwards about the aftermath on the battlefield. My favorite part of racing is the debrief afterwards and listening to tales of all the races that took place within the race.

A guy like me, reasonable fitness, but no trooper, loves paddling, surfs a fair bit, paddles a race board, not really taking it seriously, what would you say to me that would make me want to commit to getting a bit more serious?

Who said racing had to be serious? 🙂 Look at it as a personal challenge every time you race. It doesn't just have to be about being #1 across the finish line. I like to look at it as who can have the most fun!

Best thing about SUP racing?

It is still a relatively new world, it is super tactical and anyone can do it no matter what level their paddling is at!

Worst thing about it?

I wish we had a bit more acceleration power to pass people. I'm working on that part 🙂

Raceboards in surf?Your views?The way forward or blurred lines?

Surf racing is different than flatwater racing because you are even more at the mercy of the elements. I think it is one of the most exciting aspects of SUP racing and definitely something we will see more of in the future. That said, the beauty of SUP racing is that it can take place on any typer of water. Surf racing is just one type of racing.

Can you tell us about your favourite type of racing, and where you would like to see the sport moving?

I personally really love the surf racing! In my opinion this is the most dynamic race style because the waves can mix everything up. In other words: you are not just paddling your hardest, you are spending a lot of energy understanding and finding the rhythm of the waves. Not all races should be in the surf, but I hope that this race style will become even more popular in the future.

Best pre and post early morning paddle snacks?

A freshly baked cinnamon roll from my local bakery in Cold Hawaii, haha! I also really like to eat a banana or two before the session and then follow it up with another banana and some oatmeal afterwards. I am pretty sure bananas are the super food and staple of most athletes.

Casper, you're a cold water surfer like myself, what motivates you to get in the sea when most people don't want to leave the house?

The rush of facing the harshest sides of Mother nature excites me! No matter if you are paddling in midst of summer or in the heart of winter, the feeling of stoke when you leave the water is always the same. I always remind myself of this and I let it serve as my motivation!

Best advice you could give someone looking to paddle through the year in Europe?

Be prepared is my best advice! Knowledge and preparation is your friend. Don't compromise on equipment. 

Best thing about paddling in mid-winter?

Crowds are less and you appreciate those summer days even more!

Do you think cold water surfing will ever have the same status as places like Indo and Hawaii?

I think cold water surfing is unique in its own way. Waves can be good or bad regardless if they break in 2 degree or 22 degree water and we can clearly see that surfing in cold areas is gaining popularity. I like to think that we are exploring a new frontier and that there still are many remote, chilly and world class surf spots out there, just waiting to be found.

Any sponsors you're grateful to for food/shelter/clothing and the finer things in life?

I am super thankful to all my sponsors, friends and family that support me and allow me to chase my passion and dreams on the water! Naish International keeps my riding on next level SUP boards and both Naish and Quickblade Paddles have been with me since day one. When my bloodsugar hits a low in the middle of a session it also feels good to know Red Bull has my back!

18.)    What's been your favourite moment in SUP so far, be that an achievement or just a special time for you? Perhaps when a penny dropped or something magical happened?

There are so many! My favorite moment was probably winning my first ISA World Championship in Peru in 2013 racing against my childhood hero and legendary waterman Jamie Mitchell. After leading the entire final of the Technical Race I was caught by Jamie who rode a wave up next to me. As we surfed the wave towards the finish line on the beach we looked at each other, nodded in respect and shook hands while still riding the wave. Seconds later we jumped from our boards in the wild shorebreak and bolted for the finish line. Jamie got stuck in the shorebreak and had a good washing. Sure, I was super happy to win my first World Title, but it meant so much more because I got to share that memorable wave with Jamie. I will never forget this moment!


By Luke Bolsin
Luke Bolsin has been on the water all his life and taught a wide range of water sports since 2001, and is passionate about being on the water and sharing the stoke with others. He has been paddling stand up since 2008, initially as a cross trainer for no wind or flat days. However in recent years has become totally hooked on SUP for all conditions, be it down wind paddling in swells, SUP surfing, racing, or mooching on calm days around quiet coves. As well as working for SUP Tonic as our Web Editor he divides his time running his own SUP school and rental business in Cornwall, in the UK's South West, as well as being a teacher and a dad. Luke competes on a recreational level in variety of SUP events in his locality, and is part of a burgeoning paddle scene in the heart of UK's surfing region.