Photos: Courtesy Casper Steinfath and APP/ Carter
Words: Casper Steinfath
With most events cancelled on the APP calendar, 2020 has brought a different twist to the ‘Viking Adventures’ of sprint racing specialist Casper Steinfath! We caught up with the Danish multiple world champion in our Summer issue, to find out what he has been up to during lockdown and how he sees the season panning out!
Riding The Storm
I have been back home in Denmark for the past months, I was in the US when the whole lockdown started. Luckily, I managed to get home and decided I was going to stay put in Denmark. Basically, I unpacked my suitcase and have had the chance to catch up on life! I would say I have been riding out the storm here in Cold Hawaii!
The last months have been strange everywhere but at home it has been relatively nice. We were allowed outside; I could surf and keep training. We were not looked down like other places that were stuck inside. We had a lot of liberty to still go outside and continue sports. I am lucky to live in a fringe part of Denmark where it is already mellow, so if you were dumped out of a helicopter here you probably would not have noticed any difference here!
To be honest we as surfers and as athletes we are used to ups and downs on the water and at competitions. The whole Covid experience so far has been a whole new level of uncertainty. I was definitely worried. Nobody knew what was going to happen with the world. And it has been a tough blow for us athletes to have our world tour cancelled. What can you do? These are unprecedented times! I tried to stay positive and enjoy the things that I was suddenly able to do, that had been impossible previously. For example, being home for such a long period of time. I really enjoyed that. I actually enjoyed not having the stress of going back and forwards to the airport. That was really nice. Normally I am travelling for at least six months a year. I have been home for almost three months now and that has been very appreciated! I really love being home!
I soon realized the APP world tour was going to be on pause for the most part of the season. Also, some of my other plans were thwarted by the crises. I decided to start a surf school at home with two of my good friends here in Cold Hawaii. It is called Viking Adventures! We take people surfing and stand up paddling and gives the locals adventures here at home. That has been a whole lot of fun!
To create value for my sponsors it has always been about competing and achieving results! Also doing some fun projects that are media based. I had to adapt! I made videos of myself training in my living room during the Corona crises. I did quite a few podcasts where I gave out tips to up and coming athletes and paddlers around the world. I have always tried to stay active and that is just the way I am. New challenges equal new possibilities!
To be honest I am not comfortable to be travelling yet! I am vert content with where I am right now in Denmark enjoying life and my new challenges at home during our summer. The world is still pretty much locked down in terms of travel. I look forwards to seeing all my friends on the tour when that is possible again but for now, I think it is best to enjoy summer here. I am hoping it won’t be too long before life is back to normal. Who knows if there will be any events this season? I can’t control that! I hope so. Maybe the events in Paris and Gran Canaria can happen for the APP world tour but that is yet to be decided. It will be nice to get that competition jersey on again!
To be honest, this situation has changed things for me. When Corona broke out, I quit training for a while, and I am still not training 100%! With the season wiped out, I figured it is maybe time to enjoy this year to do some other things that I have wanted to do like foiling. I have been foiling my brains out! I have also put a lot of time and energy starting up this surf school, Viking Adventures so I have no trained as I normally do but I am still keeping fit and my engines are ready to fire up again when the world comes back to normal again.
I always loved surfing since I was a small kid. Stand up paddling just naturally came into my life and my quiver of surfing tools. I have been Suping since I was thirteen years old. I never planned to be a professional athlete but as soon as I saw the world of stand-up paddling was taking off, I definitely wanted to be a part of it. As soon as I was into SUP competition one of my goals was to become a world champion. My destiny was not on the cards from an early age, but I jumped at it once I saw how cool stand up paddling was.
I love the fact that racing can happen all around the world and that there are some many different conditions. All the different people we meet make it such a cool activity. SUP is still an emerging sport. There are all kinds of new names and faces on the block each year. I like that!
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
I am a good sprinter! I also feel I am strong when it comes to dealing with chaotic conditions like the Red Bull Heavy Water! My definite weakness is flat water! I am kind of sick of flat water, it can be fun, but I was brought up with waves!
Normally when I am building up towards an event, I do some gym work. I do a lot of paddling against the wind through the waves. One of the best forms of physical training for me is when I tie a bucket on a leash on the back of my board. I just start paddling. That builds muscles and that builds character!
I fear quite a few of the other athletes depending on the race format! I am totally scared of Michael Booth if it is a distance race! I feel like that guy is going to eat me alive! I fear a lot of guys in the sprint racing as well, especially Conner Baxter! There are a lot of up and coming young guys as well! Michael Booth man! That guy is so strong! He scares me! (laughs). I like racing man on man because you can play the opponent psychologically! I also enjoy the chaos of racing in packs. Chaos at buoys, yes please!
My trick is that I stick to my guns! I know what I am good at and play on that! I found out in recent years that I am a great sprinter so I figured I would focus on improving my skills in the sprint! Distance is kind of my Achilles heel! So, I figured stick to what I am good at! That has proven to have worked so far! The mental side plays such a huge part of racing! The mental side plays a big part in the training as well. To be able to dig deep and train for a big part of the year when you are away from the competition is also tough! When there is no one next to you out on your own in the Danish winter, that is tough! Race day is easy! Psyching yourself up to go train on those cold rainy days, that is the very hardest part! That is where it shows if you have the right mentality!
Arms, legs, and core are all equally important to be the best! To compete with the elite, you need full body balance, if you have a weak link it is not going to work! I would say you need legs to push, arms to pull and the core binds it all together!
BACK IN THE GAME
After winning the world title last year in Paris I was tired! I felt a bit burned out from racing! When I made it home, I took some time off! I felt the hunger kind of disappeared because I had been chasing the world title goal for so many years! Right now, I am not sure I am that hungry to get out there again, but I will find out when that time comes. I want to race again but I am not sure if that hunger is there to train so hard and put my entire focus into winning anther world title! Am I hungry to win another world title? I don’t know! But…I am definitely excited to race again at some point when things are back to normal. Hopefully, we can get some fun wave conditions for racing! Red Bull Heavy Water would be awesome!
RACE TO THE LINE
If I am in a pack on the way to a finish line I don’t really get to feel much or think much. I am just reacting to what is happening! I am not nervous I of what I can lose, I am excited about what I can win. Long distance is not my strongest point but regardless of the distance I am excited about what might unfold in the closing stages of any race! I look at any position I am in a race as an opportunity! If you are afraid of losing, then you are doomed! You always have to look at the positive opportunities!
HIGHLIGHT OF CAREER
That is a tough question! I am equally happy about my four ISA world championships that I have won as well as the two APP world titles! Winning the Red Bull Heavy Water was huge as well! Aside from competition I think the highlight of my career was paddling from Denmark to Norway! It was called the Viking crossing and I was the first person ever to paddle between Denmark and Norway on a stand-up paddle board. It took eighteen and a half hours to paddle 148km! That felt like stepping in the wake of the Vikings and it was the greatest achievement of my career so far!
WORST PART ABOUT JOB
I would say having to pack my suitcase again and again! I feel like I am always forgetting something! I feel packing my bag when leaving an event is one of the most stressful situations of my life. Travel is like that! You must remember your passport, computer, chargers, and everything that you have brought with you!
I definitely enjoy riding waves! I prefer left hand point breaks! I like nice long waves like Peru! Waves like that you can do countless turns on! When I am at home I kind of divide my time between the waves and my sprint practise! I love surfing at home, and I hit the water as much as possible when the conditions are good! When I am in the zone for an event and building up for a competition then I am all in on that!
TEN YEARS TIME!
I see myself still having fun! I see myself still on the water! It might be chasing world titles, or I will be still be having fun one way or another playing on the water! Hopefully, I will do that until the day I die!
THREE WORDS TO LIVE BY
Always have fun! Because when you have fun is when all the good and exciting stuff happens!