Casper Steinfath SUPs 1,400 km Around Denmark: ‘WTF Am I Doing?’

When most people go out paddleboarding, the objectives are modest: grab a little exercise after work, drink a few beers, and catch the sunset on the water.

When Casper Steinfath does it, it’s a full-on adventure sport. The Danish paddler has pulled off a feat or two in the past, so to hear it from him, his current objective didn’t faze him much — in theory.

As I write this, Steinfath is circumnavigating Denmark on his stand-up paddleboard. The 1,400km “Great Danish Paddle” will take him around the peninsula and across it, too.

(What he’ll do for the long carry isn’t exactly clear. If he plans to carry his paddleboard the whole way, he’s got a long trip ahead of him: the southern border of the Danish peninsula is about 100km long.)

At first, Steinfath saw his task as a personal tour of his home country — a way to reconnect with his homeland.

“I dream of rediscovering my backyard and meeting people along the way, and I guess this project is sort of an excuse for that,” he told Red Bull, one of his sponsors.

He even planned to take his time exploring, meeting people, and enjoying in the local culture along the way. Steinfath is a professional paddleboarder, and with the Professional World Championship for paddle surfing (APP) tour coming up, the trip amounts to training. Asked again why he was doing it, the 28-year-old joked, “so food tastes better!”

All told, the paddler planned for 40-50 days out. Now nearing 40 days in, his tone has somewhat changed. The hardest part of the trip may have come on day 19, a 79km traverse across the Sea of Kattegat.

Casper Steinfath paddles out through Grenaa harbour

Casper Steinfath paddles out through Grenaa harbor to start his downwind journey. Grenaa, Denmark, May 9, 2021. Photo: Jakob Gjerluff Ager/Red Bull Content Pool

 

He battled huge swells and wind there, plus oil tankers, ferries, and seaplanes in the open ocean. The passage took him and his brother 14 hours to complete.

“It was one hell of an adventure inside the adventure, that’s for sure!” the young athlete commented.

Previously, Casper Steinfath has taken forced rest days due to rough seas — metaphorical and literal. On his Instagram-transmitted “Captain’s Log,” he issued the report for day 14 of the trip.

“It was 0km today, full-on recovery mode,” he said. “Right now, I’m in my tent in my sleeping bag. I’ve been here most of the day. I think, in general, the last two weeks are catching up to me. It’s been more physical than expected.”

He found himself paddling directly into a snowstorm on one previous day-long junket.

“This is turning into more of a challenge than I expected today. I’m paddling basically straight into a snowstorm. Not exactly what I expected this morning,” Steinfath says in the post. Soon, a wave crashes in, just off his starboard side.

Ultimately, the waterman resigns himself to the journey. In an interview with The Inertia, he said, “I have 6-10 hours a day on the water thinking, ‘What the f*ck am I doing?’ I really envisioned a glamorous, heroic trip, but the reality is, I’m laying on the beach in a tent, frozen -– way beyond what I signed up for.

“But at the same time, I know it’s cliché, but the journey is really the destination. Every single morning I need to psyche myself up mentally and somehow find the energy to get back on the water.”

You can track Steinfath’s activity via his near-daily Instagram posts. He hopes to finish the route in about another three weeks. It starts and ends in his hometown of Klitmøller.

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents' evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.


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