Dramatic Finish to Casper Steinfath’s Kattegat Ocean Crossing

Paddle surfer Casper Steinfath overcame a slew of challenges to become the first person to foil across the Kattegat Ocean between Denmark and Sweden.

On Sunday, May 9, he succeeded, even though he was close to giving up several times.

The 27-year-old paddle surfer from Klitmøller, had to dig deep into the mental and physical bank to become the first to cross the Kattegat on a SUP hydrofoil board downwind. He covered the 123 kilometres in 10 hours and 53 minutes.

Seven kilometres before the finish line in the small port town, Bua, north of Varberg at the Swedish west coast, wind and waves suddenly disappeared. Steinfath had only two choices – give up or fight the last part lying on his board and paddle in a prone position with the foil underneath him.

Grounded seven kilometres from the coast, he chose the to keep fighting.

“I couldn’t get my foil flying. I was grounded seven kilometres from the shore with no wave and powerless legs. I was toast. But I could see my destination, and my arms were still working, so after a few hours, I came ashore,” Steinfath says.

When he was most disillusioned and the crossing was hanging in a thin line, help came from an unexpected side. Steinfath’s longtime coach, Magnus Lindstedt, suddenly showed up on a SUP and paddled Casper Steinfath home along with a handful of local standup paddlers.

“I got tears in my eyes. Suddenly, I saw my coach, and he gave me the belief that I could paddle home. It was a huge surprise and meant everything,” Steinfath says with tears in his eyes.

The script was written entirely differently when he took his first paddle stroke in the Port of Grenaa on the Danish east coast Sunday morning. But the problems already started when he came out on the open water after just few kilometres. The wind was more easterly than expected, and Steinfath had to paddle with a significantly elevated heart rate close to max to fight against the elements.

 

“I was close to giving up several times. The first time was actually after 10 kilometres. I worked at 198 heartbeats per minute, and I was super scared to give up before Anholt. I had very dark thoughts racing through my mind – fear of giving up and fear of failing. I would feel so bad about myself if I did not give myself 110 percent,” he says.

But eventually, he could see the Swedish west coast and the lighthouse in Bua, where a small crowd of local Steinfath fans had been waiting for hours for the six-time world champion.

“I’m glad it worked out. Not least because, it just did not go as I expected and instead into much more than a simple battle of crossing an ocean. Kattegat gave lots of resistance and did not make it easy, but that made it even more rewarding and meaningful to complete this adventure,” Steinfath says.

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