Category Archives: Travel

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

A Nordic Millers Run – King/Queen of the Fiord

This Saturday 11th or Sunday 12th (depending on weather) the Kungsbacka Fiord near Gothenburg is the scene of the second version of the surfski race King/Queen of the Fiord.

header Emma Levemyr on the Fiord

The hugely poluplar Strava feature KOM King/Queen of the Mountain doesn’t apply to on-the-water sessions Strava answered me lately – although you can actually easily create segments and compete with yourself.

But now you can compete for the title King/Queen of the Fiord in this magnificent race which is organised by surfski enthusiast Emma Levemyr. Check out Emma’s Swedish blog Surfskidagbogen “The Surfski Diaries” full of interesting posts about her training and racing.

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The Kungsbacka Fiord

In the event of southerly winds the race will follow a notherly route though the fiord from “Draget” to “Daggudden” and according to Emma is a bit similar to a Millers Run with consistent stacked runs easy to catch.

The Kungsbacka Fiord is about equidistant to the capitals of all three Scandinavian countries.

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Half a day’s drive from Oslo, Copenhagen and a bit more from Stockholm

Last year saw Emma as the winner of the title “Queen of the Fiord” and “King of the Fiord” was Norwegian Anders W. Andersen, Norwegian and Swedish Fenn dealer and not least ICF Master Class Marathon World Champion in K2 in 2013.

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2013 winners

Race report from the 2013 “King/Queen of the Fiord” from Vimeo

Blogpost about the race (Swedish)

Final decision on race day and course TBA on Emma’s Blog.

Sean Rice interview part 2 of 2

Time for the final instalment of our exclusive interview with ICF Ocean Racing World Champion Sean Rice.

In part two you’ll get answers to many surfski related questions such as “how do you decide on paddle lenght” and “How come your little brother is so good-looking?” Remember that these are crowdsourced questions! Watch this to find out…

The magnificent video from Mauritius was made by videographer Murray Walters while the video of a cracking wave chaser race from San Francisco is by Dion Maxwell. Look them up on Youtube and Vimeo for full video with audiotrack, it’s worth your time for sure even if you don’t paddle surfskis and if you do then watching these is absolutely mandatory.

A big thank you to everyone who contributed by submitting your questions to one of the very best surfskiers and of course a big thank you to Sean Rice for taking time out of a busy schedule to contribute to the growth of the sport. Now sit back and enjoy what Sean has to tell us.

Sean Rice has answered your questions!

Part 1 of 2 of our exclusive crowdsourced interview with ICF Ocean Racing World Champion Sean Rice now available as audio interview accompanied images from Seans clinics in beautiful Oslo

A few weeks ago Sean Rice gave the readers of surfskipaddling.com the opportunity to learn from one of the very best. The results are two instalments of our exclusive crowdsourced surfski-interview with Sean Rice

A big thank you to everyone who contributed by submitting your questions to one of the very best surfskiers and of course a big thank you to Sean Rice for taking time out of a busy schedule to contribute to the growth of the sport. Now sit back and enjoy what Sean has to tell us.

Sean Rice interview part 1 of 2 from Sune Wendelboe on Vimeo

We received a lot of really good questions. Questions about training, technique, racing, boats and about Sean’s own paddling background, his busy life and how he has climbed very fast to the top of surfskipaddling.

Sean Rice

Sean Rice ready for the interview with Sune Wendelboe of Surfskipaddling.com (right) and host of the clinics in Oslo Einar Kjerchow

In between all the races that Sean has been winning lately he took a “break” flying to Norway to race happy amateaurs, train and give a lot of very popular clinics. Here we caught up with Sean on a sunny early autumn day on the pier of a small Marina in Oslo.

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While boaters, kayakers and youngsters in sailing dinghies were swarming around the pier we did this interview covering a lot of surfski subjects.

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The second instalment of this exclusive crowsourced interview will be featured on this blog next friday October 3rd

Logo Surfskipaddling

Paddling photography using an action camera

Action cameras have revolutionized how we can share our sports and passions. But lets face it, the rules of photography are no less important using action cameras. Luckily it’s surprisingly easy making your own footage work a lot better.

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Being a freelance photographer for Getty Images I´ve got a few tricks that might work for you when attaching you GoPro to your bike, kayakk, helmet etc. Here I explore a few simple challenges and solutions to achieving successful  action camera footage. To exemplify I’ll use one of my own passions – surfskipaddling – a special kind of very dynamic seakayaking. I´ve captured all the images below except from one tagged with the name of very skilled surfski photographer Lucas Tozzi.

Paddlers in Fish Hoek

Going out through the surf or down a cracking Millers Run is a feeling you just can´t explain. Who wouldn’t like to show their dear ones just how crazy the runs were.

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OK stupid example, but like me you’d probably like to show off to your friends or just capture and convey the feeling of being on the water be it serenity, speed, elegance of the boats, seeing wildlife, inclement weather  etc.

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A picture is worth a thousands words.  So how do you make sure that your footage will actually speak of motion, wind, roaring waves and drama.  You don’t want it to show a flat grey paddle and you hear yourself go “but it really was fantastic”

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Two rules of photography and three specific kayaking work-arounds

Rule 1) 

Fill the frame. You want foreground, mid-ground and background. Don´t position you GoPro with yourself in the middle of the frame but a bit to the side to allow for mid-ground to the side (waves, boats, paddlers) and background. Here’s a Himba woman I photographed recently in Namibia to exemplify this principle.

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Most fails happen when we just point the camera be it SLR or action camera to a mid-ground scene. Like the sea. This really requires an interesting mid-ground as a camera can’t scan, zoom and focus creating the interesting collage your mind remembers. Try to take a nice photo of the sea without beach or dramatic skies and you will be hard pressed.

 

Rule 2 )

Rule of thirds. Divide the image in 9 equal portions placing the main subjects in one of the crossings. Remember this when mounting your GoPro  – you should be in a crossing which will also make room in the other sweetspots of the frame for action like fellow paddlers, boats, waves, Wildlife – all adding depth, .

Chile; Province: Magellanes & Antarctica; National Park: Torres del Paine. Guanaco (Lama Guanicoe) beneath The Horns of the Paine Massif.

Chile; Province: Magellanes & Antarctica; National Park: Torres del Paine. Guanaco (Lama Guanicoe) beneath The Horns of the Paine Massif.

Why does it work. I don´t know. ABC, small medium large, RGB,  BLT, The three musketeers, Rock Paper Scissors, The Hansons – it´s all perfection in 123…

When portraying movement of a surfski or any object it´s important to leave room for the movement as the eye will track that movement and needs this space.

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 Dawid Mocke training in Fish Hoek after returning from NZ as King of the Harbour in March 2014

 

Capturing surfskis on an action camera. A tricky triple whammy

1) If you want to show how steep a mountain, road or wave is don´t shoot parallel to it or will instantly go horizontal.

2) Action cameras shoot very wide to capture all it can of your surroundings, this also prevents motion blur from speed og changes in angle. But in slow sports this can have an effect on drama and the smaller field of view at the waves in front of you.

3) Mounted on bow, stern or head. Been, there done that, ate the burger. Boring.

Luckily the solutions to all three are very simple

 

Solution 1) Get onboard cameras off board.

Sometimes placing your GoPro on a rock, on a tripod on shore or on deckwill do Wonders. You could get a friend to bring a camera to a pier or other vantage point or if you´re really lucky in an escort boat . 1) Get yourself in close to the GoPro or 2) make your friend bring a zoom to compresses depth, drama and action. 1926083_10152125509573978_1876632365_o

Lonesome wave rider on Millers Run

 

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Boyan Zlatarev in some messy Gibraltar water

By master photographer Lucas Tozzi. With permission of Lucas

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Solo paddler braving the surf in Fish Hoek

 

Solution 2) Choose the least wide setting, get in close filling the frame

Get other skiers, surfers, boats in the frame. This gives the viewers a point of reference and now their brain acknowledge just how big the conditions were.

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Taller than Nikki Mocke! Nikki paddling to the left

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1ft?

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5ft!

okk2          okk3

Flat or choppy waves?

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Speed reference

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A cheap trick to is to simulate speed by going upwind and choosing the moment when you clear the wave. By no means the most difficult part, but good action. When going downwind there’s little difference between the speed of the waves and the boat. So one downwind frame will often tell a story of static balance. To most of us that just isn´t how it felt on the wave.

 

Solution 3) Try new angles

Speed, serenity, storm, midwinter. Whatever feeling you want to convey – move the camera around and experiment. If theres a rule, break it.

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Kayalu has some seriously tall mounts. Here I mounted a camera on a 42″ SuckerPod tripod on my V10 Sport. Nice stability drill too with a heavy tripod.

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Don´t get your face too close

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Testing dry suit. Freezing Norwegian midwinter. Sea kept open by currents

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Don´t mention the s-word

 

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The boats are just elegant

The three solutions above will instantly get you fresh images of your passion. But naturally it´s just the tip of the iceberg. Editing routines such as pulling and pushing shadows, clarity, retouching and cloning can bring you a long way.

Let´s keep it simple for now and save that for a later occasion or maybe a photography blog.

 

Post and pre edits of very same frame

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Happy shooting!

My photography website is right here:

www.sunewendelboe.com

Sune Wendelboe

August 2014

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.

 Viper55

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

10580116_10152350408753978_8302268844176231100_n  Maltese street

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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

 

Review of MOCKE Deluxe Paddle Bag

Background for getting the bag

Travelling with your paddle can be a risky way to treat a +500$ purchase. But travelling without your own paddle can challenge your trip even more. Your paddle is a primary source of stability, speed and comfort and therefore it’s one thing you’ll want to bring when travelling.

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My 7yo finds the bag cool and would like to trade his school bag for one

In April I went to Fish Hoek to join the Mocke Paddling School. The conditions in Fish Hoek in April tend to be either very placid or very wild. I was lucky. It was wild, and got wilder every day and by far much wilder than ever back home in Oslo.

The first day there I had to train surf entry and exit. Something that doesn’t exist where I normally paddle. I sat in different boats like Bluefin, Swordfish and V8s, all quite or very stable boats. But I borrowed a paddle that felt and was a bit different from my normal tool which is an Epic Mid Wing. Not much different and that’s the point, because although nearly similar it moved a bit differently  in the water. So the subconscious body/paddle language that normally works to keep me upright and above the water didn’t work like normal or at least spoke with a very weird dialect. Learning new stuff was really fun and challenging, but unnecessarily included re-learning how best to shift from power to brace with this paddle etc. This is no excuse for the photo below though…

surf training

 Give me my own paddle!
Paddling in Fish Hoek    surf training 1

In new waters there are many variables to take into account and removing the paddle from the variables and adding it to the constants will make your paddling much more enjoyable. I promised myself that I’d bring my paddle on my next trip at the risk of breaking it in the process. Luckily it didn’t have to be that way.

Returning from South Africa I checked out some of the MOCKE paddling gear on their web pages and saw a paddle bag. I ordered the paddle bag and took hold of it before my next trip. I didn’t want to check in two bags and was pleased to see that my life jacket and most clothes for the new trip could easily fit in the  generous compartments.

Real world test

I was going for a few days of paddling at a relatively new surfski venue – Surfski Malta (more about this in a weeks time) – and decided to check in my MOCKE bag and nothing else.

The bag has two compartments besides the paddle compartment. Called wet and dry which makes sense. The bag seems durable and well made. It’s not cowhide or Vuitton, it’s durable and water resistant. The flights were three different airlines Oslo-Barcelona-Malta-Zürich-Oslo so the bag would be manhandled plenty. Thunderstorms had cut out normal baggage handling upon return to Oslo and loads of summer holiday bags were piled wide and high at Oslo Airport putting them all through a tough test.

St Julian

The paddle bag and everything in it survived all the transfers and handling nicely. Many many years ago I worked night shifts in an airport handling cargo, and although I expect things to have improved a lot I’m still not to keen on putting expensive fragile stuff in the checked baggage.

It has got padding, and a  bit of extra padding would be my wish for the next generation. But to be honest the bag is good enough that I just ordered a second for my other paddle. The bag has no unnecessary features but lots of nice details like hidden shoulder straps, right amount of pockets, durable and cool design. A functional product.

 

Wet compartment

Wet compartment – room for travel essentials

Like the rest of the MOCKE gear many thoughts were built into the product. Dawid Mocke has a fine video of this and the different details.