Thursday, October 24, 2013

Henrik Friberg - Gliding in Scandinavian waters

Henrik Friberg is a friend of ours who paddles the waters out in Sweden. We were introduced to each other by a mutual friend Larry Allison, and immediately hit it off. Some of the stories we've exchanged in the past on the waters out where he lives sound amazing which is why we would like to introduce him to you all today and this is his story:

The first time I saw SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) was when I was reading a windsurfing magazine back in 2007 from the US. I was interested and wanted to know more about it, so I started searching around here in Sweden. I couldn’t find anything at all. 

In 2008 I found a place that sold boards. That summer I decided to sell all my windsurfing gear and buy myself a board. In 2009 I had the money and ordered my first board. I had found some forums and other interesting websites on the internet and that made me go directly for a race board. I had one small problem though, and that was to find a paddle that I thought was good. I couldn’t find any, so I had to go and order one from the USA. Lots of measuring and chatting and I ended up with a 79” full carbon paddle. And it worked!

My first time on a SUP was a total gamble because there was no one else around who paddled.  I had only seen it in a magazine and on the internet. I am so happy that I gambled.

I love SUPing and I can’t think of anything better to do to exercise or just have fun. Depending on the conditions it can be VERY challenging or just very relaxing. The paddling has a very positive effect on a stressful week, too. SUP is very therapeutic. I hate when winter comes and “my” sound freezes solid. It has become a very big part of my life.

The paddling I do most is recreational flat water paddling, or paddling in choppy conditions, because that is what is offered here. This summer I have done some shorter downwinding, and that was a real challenge. But I loved it, so I will try to find more places with the right conditions.

In my local area I am the only one who’s paddling, and that is very sad. I can’t really understand why it has not caught on here yet, but I am sure it will. In other parts of Sweden SUP is growing, and this year Sweden had its second year of national races. I am teaching my children how to SUP, and maybe they will be bitten by the bug too. Next year it is my wife's turn to try paddling.

At the moment my favorite place to paddle is in the sound just outside Färjestaden where I live. I also love paddling in Kalmar, which is a town on the other side of the sound. There you can paddle in the town in canals. It is an awesome experience to see 
contemporary buildings side-by-side with buildings from the 16th century. Träslövsläge on the west coast of Sweden is a place I visited this summer. That place has a lot bigger waves, and I really want to go back and continue trying to surf my 12’6. Next time, hopefully, I can also try a proper SUP surfboard.

When I am out paddling I sometimes meet people, and and very often they have no idea what I am doing. They tend to think it is some sort of kayaking. So as you can understand SUP is still not a huge sport and lifestyle as it is in USA. Yet.

Henrik Friberg, Sweden

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