Category Archives: Surfski Destinations

Surfski Film Festival 2014 – Sweden in the lead!

Surfski is taking off, no doubt about it. Nowhere as fast as in Sweden.  But without enthusiasts nothing takes off. This is just what they’ve got in Sweden. Namely the surf ski community “West Coast BAMF Surfski HPG Luck-lovers” headed by Trent Victor.

Two other VERY active members of this society are Emma Levemyr (European SS Silver Medallist, Swedish SS Gold Medallist) and Evy Lantz (Swedish SS Bonze Medallist) and many other enthusiast are found here too.

Wind and cold waters are perfect for surfskipaddling too. So Emma’s, Trent’s and Evy’ home – Kungsbackafjorden – near Gothenburg just has it all and is is THE cradle of cold surfskipaddling. And more on this later.

Now Emma, Evy  and all these creative forces have created the annual Surfski Film Festival. The world’s first & only Surfski Film Festival? What a really great idea. Here´s the trailer. Enjoy! #Entrepreneurship

Surfski Center Tarifa visiting Oslo

Boyan Zlatarev from Surfski Center Tarifa and EPIC has the coolest auto reply ever: Thanks for your message. I am currently on the road driving from Tarifa to Stockholm and back with few additional stops in between (about 8000-9000 km). I am trying to reply to most messages as quickly…

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The real purpose of this crazy ride is of course a visit to Oslo to do clinics as Oslo is currently the scene of a virtual surfski revolution with races and clinics dotting the calendar like never before and new paddlers joining the sport. Just great. September 8th & 9th it´s time for Sean Rice clinics in Oslo following the annual Oslo Surfski Race.

If you´re in the area please share this and consider joining on of the clinics as outlined below.

Original invitation in Norwegian

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Friday at Oslo Kayak Club (OKK) there will be private clinics including an option to paddle a V10 Double with Boyan. The V10 Double is a fast bout, and with Boyan in the front bucket even new paddlers will feel safe, enjoy the speed and learn a lot. Private lessons are two hours costing nkr. 1.200, 1.500,- for couples.

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Saturday there will be a group session at OKK from 10:00 to 12.30 costing nkr. 600,-

Following Oscar Chalupskys 2013 technique clinic at OKK, this clinic will begin with a few technique drills and then focus on runs and rides – downwind technique. Catching even the smallest waves of the Oslo Fiord.

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Come to our surfski clinic. You are going to learn:

Part 1 (45 min)
– How to set up correctly your surfski and paddle for maximum control and efficiency.
– Forward stroke basics and improve stability during paddling.
– 3 paddling drills that will help you change and improve your paddling technique.

Part 2 (45 min)
– Basic wave theory ( learn how to see and utilise waves).
– Basic downwind tactics and skills (the 3 principles of catching waves correctly).
– Open water safety skills (brace stroke, get to shore emergency technique, remount).

Part 3 (45 min)
– We have some fun together practicing what we learned in part 1 and 2.

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Private clinics are built around the same blocks, but you´re free to choose your special focus.

Contact:
Boyan Zlatarev: boyan.zlatarev@icloud.com
Boyan Tlf: +34 683 512 653
Sune Wendelboe Mob : 9073 1073

 

Surfski Malta – a brief visit

Living in Oslo gives you many fine seasons and waters to paddle. There’s nothing  wrong with gliding between fragrant pineclad rock islands on a misty winter morning on the Oslo Fiord but recently I’ve begun discovering and visiting surfski destinations around the world.

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Paddling in Oslo goes a long way

In my time off I´ve been freelancing a bit for Getty Images as a travel photographer. Photography is a great vessel to get you going to the next country, village, valley, tribe and now I’ve begun combining it with surfski travel, which has the added benefit of letting me meet many more wonderful people.

Travel

A recent photography / surfski trip to Namibia & South Africa

I did a small piece on a surfski trip to Tarifa some time back (Surfski Center Tarifa Review), and am still trying to get my experiences in Southern Africa, particularly the Millers Run in Fish Hoek down on paper. Meanwhile a logistical blunder left me in Oslo without family or car but with my four last summer holiday-days free. So I started thinking about the surfski schools I knew of but hadn´t been to – Zolt in Hawai’i sounds great like Sydney, Kaua´i and maybe Perth do (tip me on other places please!) But four days is no fortnight so I remembered having heard about Surfski Malta, got in contact with the manager and operator Christoffer Camilleri who was quick to help me out on short notice and in the middle of the peak season.

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“So you´re going to Malta” the immigration police said, “now which country would that be located in” (sorry Malta).

Malta

Not the biggest country, but not to be overlooked

Malta is a country and a huge travel destination blending terrific weather with a really confusing history involving Roman, Arabic, German, Aragon, Spanish, French and British rule, not to forget the Knights of St. John and independency , all this has produced a unique culture, architecture, and cuisine. Interesting and unlike anything I’ve seen in Europe. But this falls outside the scope of this article and I will just suffice to recommend a closer look at Malta and its very friendly people.
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Valletta, Capital of Malta

Back to the surfski trip. It was thursday July 24th and I got around to packing while Norway had woken up to total terror alert investigating apparent threats from extremists, live broadcast of a press conference hosted by the Norwegian Police Security Service, police choppers overhead our house and armed police stationed at focal points such as the Central Station in Oslo, the intl. airport Gardermoen and the Ferry terminal to Copenhagen. Or in other words the three transportation hubs we’d use to get the family to Denmark and me to Malta. No sweat though and we were off.

Surfski Malta was opened in 2013 and is Nelo country. It´s not exactly a school as such like Tarifa or the paddling School in Fish Hoek, nor does it claim to be. Rather it´s a surf ski rental that’ll give you good advice, take care of accomodation too. But with new investments it looks like things are moving towards a more complete package for all types of surfskiers , more on this later.

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The dedicated founder of Surfski Malta Christoffer Camilleri is President of the Malta Canoe Racing Club, has repeatedly been the K1 national champion of Malta since 2004 and has been competing in World Championships and World Cups for several years with outstanding results.

Some years back a visitor from South Africa saw Chris in his K1 in Malta and having seen the sea around Malta promised to ship a surfski – the very first ski ever in Malta. This happened to be an ancient and thus tippy Epic V10 fitting Chris perfectly and now he was sold. So in 2013 Chris went ahead and got hold of a line of brand new Nelo Skis. The choice was Nelo Vintage and Ocean L/XL, fast beautifully colorful  and  sleek designs but at a price – stability.

Nelo Ocean Ski    Nelo Vintage

My blue Nelo Ocean Ski and my green Nelo Vintage

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 My black V14 

For those who haven’t owned one and coming from one that has owned and paddled all three – the Epic V14 is sort of equal to the Nelo Vintage and pretty stable compared to the Nelo Ocean Ski. They´re fast and beautiful but they´re not for everybody or even most bodies. They´re high performance skis what have very little initial stability and less secondary stability. They´re not like the outrageously unstable beautiful Nelo 560Ski though. Bear in mind though that this comes from an intermediate surfski paddler.

But the Ocean Skis at Surfski Malta are being supplemented by no less than 11 of the very stable Nelo Viper 55 Ski. I´ve had two Viper 55 Skis and they´re sort of comparable to Fenn XT and Epic V8 by a stretch. Rounder and faster than the V8 less so than XT.

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My Viper55 Ski in action in Norwegian mid winter

This will leave intermediate paddlers with a choice of upgrading to an Nelo Ocean Ski or downgrading to a Viper from the Swordfish/Evo II/V10/etc. they likely have back home as Nelo hasn´t got anything in this  segment yet. But the Viper is actually pretty fast and surfs very well with a proper surf rudder, so the choice makes good sense to further Surfski Malta as a surfski destination for both beginners and advanced paddlers. I guess that most guests at Surfski Center Tarifa paddle something faster at home than the V8 very commonly used in Tarifa, and in the same way I actually think a Viper 55 Ski will be the right choice for most recreational skiers visiting Surfski Malta, even if we might prefer something more intermediate if we were at home.

A few intermediate boats that I guess 90% of recreational surfskiers would be happy in when paddling at home in known conditions:

 

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My Think EVO II & my Epic V10 

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My Fenn Swordfish and Eirik Verås Larsen coaching

Malta as a paddlers destination has a bit of the same Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality as a Viper 55 ski vs. an Ocean ski. You´ve got the huge bays an inlets of the North East. Vast crystal clear bodies of quiet water fitting an intermediate paddler in an Ocean Ski. But if you venture outside the bays you´re in the Mediterranean Proper and you will have rapidly changing conditions,  big rolling waves on quiet days and breaking downwind on others, it´ll be perfect for an intermediate paddler in a Viper 55 Ski.

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Matthew Schembri & Christoffer Camilleri on a windy day

Chris has cleverly set up two surfski Centres in Malta. One operating mainly in the winter (October to April) in western Mellieha Bay and one downtown in St. Julians at the end of the prevailing downwind in winter peak season (above).

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21km downwind route from western Mellieha Bay to St. Julians

It was summer during my visit so I stayed next door to the St. Julian base. The hotels here are fine tourism machines, but just next door you´ll find charming old fishing boat houses built by the old boat launches and now home to Christoffers St. Julian boats.

It´s a wonderful feeling strolling along the old boat launches at seven in the morning next to colorful fishing boats floating on inviting crystal clear waters.

Surfski shack MaltaSurfski Malta St. Julians

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While setting up your boat at the shack you´ll no doubt meet old fisherman Xavier who is back from a long night of terribly bad fishing which he´ll be glad to elaborate on. He has been in place since 1959 and his cockney accented gloomy fishing reports are a quite cool reminder of the colourful history this country has to offer.

Paddling in MaltaMorning paddle in St. Julians

Just three steps from the boat shack is the Mediterranean and you´ll launch your ski from here. Wiggle your way between colorful wooden Maltese fishing boats and enter the bay of St. Julians. Surrounded by medieval and baroque palaces and churches plus many not so medieval chain hotels, you can stare at the blue bottom 10 meters down. The bay is in wide open connection with the ocen and thus only protected in some wind directions, which is why you might experience placid water become a rolling tub in no time. It´s a touristy place for sure, but it does have it´s own considerable charm to be paddling downtown between ancient spires and old grumpy fishermen.

stjulianSt. Julian’s 

As of now Surfski Malta is a surfski rental that can also fix your accommodation without any fuss plus offer paddling advice, but it’s not a surfski school as such. You can come to train in fine boats and good conditions, but need to know what you´re doing in a surfski as there´s no one coaching you or paddling with you. To be perfectly honest I as an intermediate paddler with only 4 years of experience had no option what so ever to venture outside the bay into the open ocean without something a bit more similar to a Swordfish/modern stable V10/EVO II and without company knowledgeable about local currents, reefs, traffic, winds and runs etc. Recently though Chris has invested in a powerfull dingy stored in St. Julian’s, showing that the business plan of Surfski Malta is evolving and that in near future guided paddle trips / runs will be a part of the product line.

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Limestone arc – the Azure Window – Gozo Island

Surfski Malta just opened up in October 2013 and has already got a decent fleet and many followers on FaceBook. They held quite a few races during that short time, and many more are planned, check out their FaceBook site for the cool race reports. I believe that Surfski Malta has a great potential for beginners/intermediate paddlers as well when they take delivery of the New Viper 55 Skis and wrap a bit of a tuition package around the really fine product they actually have – slick skis, warm water year round mixed with Maltese nature, culture and cuisine. It’s a strong start and I’d be interested in visiting again later to try the downwind from Mellieha to Valletta.

I find it very interesting that more and more surfski operators are popping up. Christoffer Camilleri is very dedicated, knowledgeable and very helpful person. I have no doubt that with time this will emerge as a leading surfski destination with it´s very own twist.

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Mellieha Bay, photo by Surfski Malta

You can read more about Christoffer in his own words here Christoffer Camilleri

And about Surfski Malta here

August 2014
Sune Wendelboe

 

Surfski Center Tarifa, a quick review

V10 Double Boyan & Jens

A few months ago I had the opportunity to visit Surfski Center Tarifa. I knew that it was one of Europe´s leading surfski destinations, but as the sport is small up here, what did this even mean?

A short video I made trying to capture the feel of surfskiing in Tarifa

It was December and ice was forming on my home waters – the Oslo Fiord. Meanwhile in Southern Spain, not far from the major hub of Malaga,  the temperature was at a comfortable Scandinavian summer level.

The drive from Malaga to Tarifa via Ronda was winding roads making their way across Andalucian mountains and through small white washed villages. While  daylight at noon back in Norway was at the same level as at midnight in June – Spain was pure autumn wrapped in soft golden sunlight

 

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Tarifa is the southernmost point on the European continent and lies south of parts of Africa. As you drive nearer winds pick up, hundreds of windmills dot the landscape. The oceanic climate that makes winters warm also generates the wind that drives much of Tarifa’s tourism industry. As you descent from the coastal ranges into the plains surrounding Tarifa you see the gentle sweep of the bays on both sides of Tarifa and get a feel of the powerful winds and begin to understand why the surfski centre is located here.

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On arrival in Tarifa I was greeted by Boyan Zlatarev who runs the place and who is an expert surfskier.

Now the Straits of Gibraltar is quite an intimidating place and a quick look on Wind Guru can make you wonder what it would be like drifting all the way to Rio de Janeiro. But any hesitation just evaporated as Boyan went through the theory, security drills and checks before paddling.

As not many surfski paddlers come with any certification Boyan took me out in the V10 Double to assert skills. If you get this opportunity – take it. The ride was fast, bumpy, fun and gives you a feeling of the fast conditions in Tarifa.

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V10 DoubleBoyan in the front bucket 

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Another happy downwind student, Jens H. Bond, in the double with Boyan Zlatarev

Next up was downwind in a V8. Where many people frown a bit at the thought of paddling a V8, Surfski Center Tarifa uses it widely even though they have the entire range at disposal at the Centre. The V8 – the surfing machine – is very stable and catches runs easily.  On one occasion when we were 4 sort of intermediate paddlers going downwind – one chose a faster boat and was instantly passed by three happy V8 paddlers.

The V8 is a great platform to learn downwind and technique from as you don´t have to worry about stability. Stability before ability as Oscar Chalupsky puts it.

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While you sit in a stable V8 and feel like king of the world, Boyan will – typical for him – tell you to get out of the bucket into large breaking waves and far from shore. When you try to remount he will go “that looks like your comfortable side, try the other one…” and then “ok, but try it again until it´s one fluid motion”.

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When the driver parked the surfski van 17m further than necessary from the howling shoreline Boyan was there again with a piece of friendly advice on parking vs. carrying a light surfski in strong winds. Safety before fun and respect for the equipment that will take you across the bay in howling winds – that´s Boyan – this focus on safety and detail might come from paddling a potentially dangerous body of water everyday. We can all learn from this and in the end it makes you feel very safe as a paddling student and it lets all paddlers at the centre enjoy the fun much more knowing that all precautions have been taken.

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Tarifa has great many combinations of wind directions and currents. This produces quite a challenge but when combined with the knowledge found at the surf ski centre it also produces  new and exciting paddling opportunities every single day.

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Tarifa has the right conditions and Boyan has the right skills, huge knowledge about local runs and is a very dedicated teacher. If you come with an open mind you´ll enjoy personal instructions and will be able to take home a lot of very useful knowledge no matter what your pre-school paddling level was. Great value for money.

Basically I had a great time in Tarifa and warmly recommend it to paddlers of all vessels and levels of experience. I learnt a lot and will be back in a few months.

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-Sune Wendelboe,  July 2014

All images © 2013 Sune Wendelboe.

 

Find much more information on  Surfski Centre Tarifa’s own website:

Surfski Centre Tarifa