Nuzzled into Denmark's north west coast is a locale harbouring a burgeoning surf community. And although the scene is blossoming, there is a vibrancy connected to the area, making it one of the most welcoming destinations around. It is called Cold Hawaii.
Oh, not for pumping slabs and backdooring heavy, almond cylinders (though, perhaps!) but for the spirit of the place – a venue taking an all encompassing approach to multi-board disciplines including longboarding and SUPing.
So it is fitting that Denmark and Cold Hawaii will host this year's ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championships. But what do we really understand about the scene in Denmark? Did you know, for example, that it is home to 3-time ISA SUP World Champion Casper Steinfath, son of Denmark, born and raised in Klitmøller.
Teammates with Kai Lenny, Casper's been praised for putting SUPing on the map for the Danes. So, who better to quiz about the nuances of Cold Hawaii than the man himself. Dig on in.
Where in Denmark did you grow up?
I grew up in the small fishing village of Klitmøller located on the West Coast by the North Sea. My first memories as a kid were in Klitmøller and I am happy to call this place my home.
Have you a background in surfing or was it straight onto a SUP?
My father is from California and he had my brother and I out surfing with him on his tandem longboard before we could even walk. Surfing is a natural part of my DNA and I grew up chasing the amazing adventures in the waves as a surfer. SUP came into my life 10 years ago when I was on a surf trip to Portugal.
The waves were small and my uncle Tim Dye had a Mickey Munoz SUP board with him. I thought SUP looked pretty fun, so I gave it a try. Little did I know that this first session would lead to such an obsession with SUP.
Tell us a bit about Denmark as a surf/SUP destination.
Well, Denmark is probably not the classic or most exotic surf destination that comes to mind. Denmark has lots of fun surf and also a young and thriving surf scene. Surfing in all its forms is relatively young here and it is very pleasant and welcoming surf scene. That combined with the wild landscape has my dad reminiscing back to his youth as a kid in California. You won’t find and endless amount of perfect waves in Denmark, but you will find everything you need for an adventure as a surfer. And oh yeah, it’s pretty cold.
This year, the ISA Sup World Championships are in Denmark, a section of which will be in Vorupør aka Cold Hawaii. What's special about Cold Hawaii?
For me it really is just home, but the unique features about Cold Hawaii is that this relatively small stretch of coast holds a few dozen different surf spots. From Agger in South to Vigsø in the North, there are loads of spots to surf on different wind and swell directions.
I guess the area of “Cold Hawaii” has become well known world wide for how it accommodates all types of surfing I guess the area of “Cold Hawaii” has become well known world wide for how it accommodates all types of surfing. No matter if you are a shortboarder, longboarder, beginner, kitesurfer, windsurfer or stand up paddle surfer – There are great spots for everyone at all levels. It’s the fact that Cold Hawaii is inclusive to all genres of surfing that makes me love the place.
And why the name Cold Hawaii? Are there a few slabs knocking around?
[laughs] Not really that many slabs unfortunately, but there are a few here and there. The name was given by German windsurfers that came here in the 70’s and 80’s and felt a similarity in the swell and vibe like Hawaii. In recent years the term Cold Hawaii has resurfaced and is now the common name for the area as a whole.
The waves might not be quite like Hawaii, and there aren’t quite that many bikini babes on the beach, but the atmosphere and people here are pretty special.
What sort of training have you been prepping going into the ISA games?
I’ve been super focused on my endurance as I will be competing in the racing disciplines of the world championship. That involves a lot of cardio training both on land and in the water on my board. I will be doing the 200m sprints and the “Technical Race”.
The latter which essentially is a 3,000m surf race where we have to charge out throughout the surf on 12’6’’ boards and paddle arounds some buoys without getting taken out by the waves. So yeah, my training has consisted of some hundreds of hours of surfing the past 8 months.
From your achievements, there's talk of you putting Denmark on the SUP map, feeling any pressure going into this competition?
I’m always nervous when going into a competition, 'cause I always want to win when on a start line. Competition is just in my nature and this year there definitely are some higher stakes and more pressure as I am on my home court. I try not to think too much about it, but honestly there is hardly anything in this world that I dream of more than winning a world title in front of my friends and family at home. It would be dream come true to put Denmark on the SUP map by winning in my backyard.
How do you prepare mentally?
Before a big competition I try to just relax and find my own space mentally. In racing, just like surfing, it is all about performing your best with the conditions you are given. I listen to good music and do my warm up routine before the race so I feel super psyched. Usually a few minutes before my heat or race I take a plunge in the cold water to get some extra adrenaline going. Viking style.
You're riding for Naish at the moment - do you draw inspiration from what others on the team are doing say, for example, Kai Lenny surfing Jaws on a SUP?
Kai has been and is still one of the single biggest inspirations for me. Growing up surfing and especially stand up paddling in Denmark I always looked for other people doing the same like me - and there were not many here.
Meeting Kai at SUP World Cups and following his adventures really inspired me to push my limits Meeting Kai at SUP World Cups and following his adventures really inspired me to push my limits and keep stand up paddling. Kai is such a crazy athlete and what really inspires me about Kai is that he keeps an open mind about all kinds of surfing and chooses whatever board that fits the conditions best.
Where do you think the future of SUP lies?
What I love about SUP is that it has so many dimensions and variations as a sport. No matter what level you are at you can have fund and go on adventures whether it is in the wild waves or just on the local lake. For me SUP is just a continuation of surfing and I hope to see SUP athletes like Kai Lenny keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the waves.
I also hope to see the SUP racing become even more popular and spectacular with the surf style races. Who knows, perhaps one day it could be an Olympic sport alongside shortboard surfing.
Follow all the action from September 1 by going HERE.