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Voyage of Te Mana - Jess & Nick

Jess and Nick and their floating home Te Mana are back with part 2 of their adventures exploring the beautiful waters of Polynesia and the South Pacific. Having bought their boat in Tahiti they’ve been island hoping over the last few months, with SUPs onboard, recently arriving in Tonga…

Voyage of Te Mana - Jess & Nick

We’ve been floating in French Polynesia full time now for a few months. And although l’d have classified us as water babies when we were living on land (forever trying to be in or on the sea, SUPing and surfing around the waterways of Sydney and the beautiful South Coast), it’s just not the same as living constantly surrounded by ocean and its never ending motion… and of course, its never ending challenges.

And there have definitely been challenges aplenty for us with our newfound life afloat… as you would expect – having not really sailed much before we dove right into the deep end and bought ourselves a yacht in Tahiti!

“Don’t they say there’s no time like the present, and if you’re going to do it… do it properly? So we did. And we are learning… by doing… quickly!”

With it clearly not being our long engrained love of sailing that lead us here, it was more so the realisation that there’s no better way to access Polynesia’s many gems than by boat. And although space is always at a premium on a yacht, on board Te Mana (our 40 foot Beneteau Oceanis) we’ve managed to squeeze in as much of our land life’s garage contents as we could. Our arsenal of toys includes 5 surf boards, snorkelling/freediving set ups, spear guns, fishing rods, cameras and underwater housings of all shapes and sizes, and of course our SUPs. Although Nick has left his surf SUP on land (at this stage!), we’ve bought along our two favourite Red Paddle Co SUPs, as the option for below deck storage on passages (rather than strapping them on deck as with traditional SUPs) was just too good to pass up.

Aside from literally allowing us to walk on water, SUPing forms a massive part of our daily cruising life. When we’re at anchor, not only are they our method of choice for up close and personal exploration of some of the world’s most stunning tropical islands, atolls, and coral reefs, but they also provide us with fitness, transport to/from land, surfing (you’ve got to pick your wave here to ride an inflatable on!!!), skurfing, and of course just plain and simple fun and enjoyment.

Someone asked the other day if we were missing our life on land… lets just say there was no time lost in answering!

“So until that answer changes, it looks like we’ll keep floating on, SUPing, surfing and sailing our way across the Pacific.”

Jess and Nick will be sharing their sailing & SUP adventures on SUPboarder with regular blogs. But in the meantime check out their website Voyage of Te Mana. 

You can read Voyage of Te Mana #1 on SUPboarder here. 

Finding inspirational SUP race videos to get you amped, and make you want to grab your race board and train for the next big race aren’t always easy to find. But we’re happy to see another stunningly shot short SUP film from British Columbia film production Lee Visual do just that.

This time they film Blackfish Paddles athlete and stand up paddleboard racer Jason Bennett discussing the drive and mental state required for distance racing.

We shot for three days in Deep Cove and Squamish, British Columbia. Jason is one of Canada’s top SUP racers specializing in distance racing. The goal of the shoot/film was to convey what it’s like to participate in one of these races, specifically focusing on energy management, endurance, and pushing through to the finish line. We had a mixed bag of weather for the shoot which made life difficult but allowed us to capture racing in varied conditions which can be the norm in the Pacific North West. The race scenes are from the Indian Arm Challenge, a 34km race held in Deep Cove, BC by Deep Cove Paddling Centre. Kelsey Thompson from Lee Visual 

Check out Lee Visual’s last SUP production ‘British Columbia ‘Wild Coast’ / SUP lifestyle short film‘ on SUPboarder for an inspirational SUP surf film that will make you want to go off the beaten track in the search for waves.

We look forward to seeing more stunning SUP films from the guys and Lee Visual soon.  Until then find out more about Lee Visual and their stunning films on Facebook here www.facebook.com/Lee-Visual and Instagram www.instagram.com/lee_visual
The guys would also like to thank Blackfish paddles for supporting the project. A company that solely makes SUP paddles in British Columbia.

 

Start Living Today PD - Heidi Reynolds

Positive. Motivated, Happy. These aren’t necessarily the 3 words that you would associate with a 40 year old with Parkinsons. But for Heidi Reynolds from Cornwall, UK staying positive, keeping motivated, and being happy is exactly what she’s been doing since her diagnosis in 2014. Heidi talks openly about her challenging journey with Mr P! and how moving to the Cornish Coast and discovering SUP has helped to put that smile back on her face….

Start Living Today PD - Heidi ReynoldsIn 2008 I changed my life… got fit and lost weight. But my increasing shoulder pain was unhelpful. On 28th July 2014, 3 shoulder operations, countless other procedures, problems balancing, unremitting shoulder pain, short-term memory issues, a tremor & more I was looking at a serious faced Neurologist who said” You have Parkinson’s.”

“Degenerative and No Cure. That’s all I heard.
A fun afternoon! I was 37.”

Parkinson’s affects 127k people in the UK of which around 1 in 20 are under 40 at diagnosis. It’s a loss of a chemical called dopamine (stick with me!) which is the stuff responsible for smooth muscle movement, and sending messages about your body. (I have a post sorting office with a staff shortage!) Everything takes longer from moving, to swallowing, to thinking. I drink thickened liquids. Why? They take longer to reach the back of my throat, so my airway (now a space cadet!) has time to work out “INCOMING” & finally covers my airway, more helpful than choking. I catherterise 4 x per day as my bladder fails to tell my brain when its full – I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps! So more than just shaking then! Oh and not everyone shakes. Ha! You didn’t know that did you! I lost my job, medically retired. Another blow. That’s the depressing bit done, its uphill from here!

I couldn’t let this dopamine sucking Mr P take over!!

I founded Start Living Today PD. A support group for people living with Parkinson’s. SLTPD’s motto is ‘Positive Motivated Happy.’ I have Parkinson’s. I can wake up, grab life by the throat or…? There is no or! I’m not alone. We now have 3k followers across social media worldwide.

The message runs so much wider than Parkinson’s. So many face adversity every day. They’re all inspiring. No we haven’t scaled Mount Everest or run the Sahara but we get up every day and face life head on. I got myself fit and with that my attitude changed. Believe in yourself, aspire and you can achieve anything. Challenges, big or small, it’s their personal significance that’s key. “I can’t do that” changes to “How can I do it differently?” We recently held a crowdfunder for our new website www.startlivingtodaypd.co.uk due to launch really soon and people couldn’t have been more generous.

Medical retirement and the move to Cornwall was the silver lining to my diagnosis.

Moving to the Lizard in Cornwall this year I was determined to achieve my ambition of SUP’ing. “You have Parkinson’s?” said the doubters. Thanks, really helpful! Why should this stop me? The 1st time I tried SUP a friends quite unstable (sorry Edd) board was my company, in Sennen on a choppy day. I spent more time in the water but I was hooked and so thankful to him.

Soon after my Quroc Crossover QI was delivered. It’s awesome. The sturdiest bag, board, well everything! Mr P & I will have trouble breaking this I thought! But so light and stable. I’ve had it 3 months and fallen off once which says it all!

 

Start Living Today PD - Heidi ReynoldsOn the water my mind clears, I’m free. No room for Mr P on my board!

It’s just me the sound of the water, rocks, fish, bird’s, flora and fauna. I can’t explain the calm that surrounds me. Yes it’s sometimes hard work too, but I thrive on the challenge. Paddle harder and harder, ride the waves, shriek with laughter. It’s me Vs the sea Vs my future. I love it.

I now live on the Lizard in Cornwall running Start Living Today PD, doing all I can to raise awareness and determined to show how attainable most activities are. That adaption is key, so if standing isn’t an option, kneel! Don’t worry what others think, this is your life, get out there and live it. SUP is so much fun. I’m self-taught and have yet to have a SUP lesson. But that hasn’t stopped me getting out there and having fun.

I’m so grateful to Quroc. As jellyfish float past me, starfish laze on the sea bed and a seal pops up, how could you be anything but happy?!

Whether Parkinson’s is your demon or anything else, if you’ve always wanted to try something, what are you waiting for?! Positive Motivated Happy!

Words: Heidi Reynolds (Founder of Start Living Today PD)

Heidi is off to Australia in December with her husband to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary and renew their wedding vows. We’re sure it won’t take her long to find a SUP and get afloat! With lots of pink and sparkle too no doubt!

For more information about ‘Start LivingToday PD’ check out:

Facebook: .facebook.com/SLTPDBelieve
Facebook (closed group): facebook.com/groups/826553277476417
Website (launching very soon): www.startlivingtodaypd.co.uk
Blog: startlivingtodaypdblog.wordpress.com
Twitter: @start_pd

For more information about Quroc SUPs check out the Quroc website 

And remember… if you’ve always wanted to try something, then do it! Don’t wait for tomorrow. 

Voyage of Te Mana - Jess & Nick

Have you ever dreamed of leaving it all behind in search of the simple life? Jess and Nick from Australia had, but instead of just keeping it a dream, they made it a reality! Leaving their home town of Thirroul in New South Wales earlier this year, exploring the beautiful waters of Polynesia and the South Pacific by boat, has become their new way of life. And with their SUPs and surfboards close at hand it’s going to be an epic adventure too.

But first of all they had to buy a boat! SUPboarder follows Nick and Jess’s travels with a series of blogs over the coming months, following them back to Australia and possibly beyond!…

“We’ve bought a yacht. In Tahiti! I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of saying that.”

Both Nick and I have done our fair share of travel and living abroad over the years and so are no strangers to tapping out of conventional society for periods of time. But there has been something special about uttering that phrase as the explanation for upping and leaving our perfectly good lives on land while our friends and colleagues our age cling onto the property ladder, pop out babies, and strive to further their careers.

Reactions to our news consisted consistently of raised eyebrows, jaws agape, stunned silence, and then of course a retort to the gist of ‘Can you even sail?!…’ .Once the initial shock was digested, most were excited for us and encouraging, however a few aggressive reactions spilled forth (interestingly all from local racing sailors who had never cruised the Pacific) bluntly implying our idiocy. We could only conclude that maybe, just maybe we were striking a nerve by living out their never fulfilled dream.

Our grand plan consisted of surfing, SUPing and sailing our way through Polynesia, and eventually back to Australia.

Voyage of Te Mana - Jess & Nick

And it is a grand plan, even by our usually ambitious standards. Not only have we never really sailed much before, we definitely haven’t captained a 40 foot yacht, let alone crossed an ocean. In fact this idea had only really been in motion for the past six months when I suggested it to Nick. He has since run with it like only he can and here we are… living aboard our new floating home anchored in the beautiful turquoise waters of Tahiti, overlooking the sun setting behind the jagged peaks of Moorea.

Although the idea was mine, our quick turn around in life circumstances has to be attributed to a combination of Nick’s never ending enthusiasm and optimism, some good solid advice from a boat broker friend in Sydney who set us on the right path of what type of boats to look at from day one, as well as a large planning wall in our home that we turned into a blackboard to visually workshop all we needed to do in order to achieve our goal.

The blackboard definitely got a good work out, with there being many stages of our oversized ‘to do’ list. We not only managed to tick everything off, but also provided our friends’ children a way to happily draw on our walls.

And now that our walls are curved and our living space is the size of our previous bedroom, all that’s left to do is the fun part – the sailing, surfing, and SUP exploration around Polynesia’s beautiful islands and coral reefs. Stay tuned for our updates as we cruise the Pacific in search of paradise, or follow our adventures at www.voyageoftemana.com.

Jayne Lake - What's so amusing?!

Some of us are lucky enough to have grown up by the water, living and breathing the ocean every day and enjoying the great opportunities associated with it. But for others, love for the ocean and discovering the fun it brings takes time… and confidence!

SUP enthusiast Jayne Lake is one of those people who had to learn to love the ocean. With a fish and water phobia it certainly wasn’t love at first sight! In her mid 40’s and with a passion for her camper van, cooking and outdoor life, Jayne decided after a major life event that it was time to face her fears and try something new. With a bit of encouragement, in 2015 Jayne tried SUP… and she’s been SUPing ever since. Enjoying being part of the friendly SUP community and taking part in various events Jayne tells her amusing story of how her water phobia turned into her new love for SUP…

Jayne Lake - What's so amusing?!

I know I am a bit strange but what is so surprising and funny about paddleboarding when you have a fish and water phobia?!

In June 2015 I was recovering from quite a large operation and I seemed to be having a mid life fear of not facing my fears and giving things a go. I took the motorhome to Hayling Island and just tried everything. I had a day to spare before I came home so I asked someone I trusted how I should spend it, the answer came back – contact Fran Blake and go paddleboarding. Now this was really pushing the boundaries, but having spent a day sailing and getting back on a bike after many years I thought why not! Pretty mad really considering the thought of floating over the unknown with the potential of bathing with fish was just so abhorrent.

Little did I know but Fran’s matter of fact no nonsense approach was exactly what I needed. The morning was perfect, early, still and hazy and the harbour just looked amazing, even inviting.

I managed to wobble to my feet and set off on what was to be quite a life changing trip in more ways than one.

There was lots of chatter and fun so much so I forgot what I was doing and just kept paddling albeit very inefficiently, and now knowing how quick Fran normally goes it must have been rather frustrating for her. I could see her chuckling and wondered why, it was only later she told me of all the fish jumping behind me!

So that started my trips down the M3/M27 to the south coast for my “standing above the water” fix (having managed to this point not to fall off), and yes my friends realised for sure that I had lost the plot! Soon after I bought an ISUP 11 foot Fanatic tourer, and the day after that I told Fran I wanted to paddle from Hayling Island Sailing Club to Langstone, thinking how hard can it be?!!! I don’t think I had factored in a wind that was stronger than expected and a side on swell, so I had my first dunking. All in it took three hours, all the jelly babies Fran had in her pack and a lot of sitting on my butt, but I did it. This was a make or break – it could have been the quickest resale of a SUP board in history – but it made me even more determined to give it my best shot, I’m no quitter. To many, such a small challenge is laughable, to me it was crossing the channel…

And now? Well, I live one and a half miles from the harbour, I get out as much as the wind and tide allows, I took part in a N1SCO race, and I am working on my technique and other board based skills. I took my ISUP out to Spain and also bought a beautiful Fanatic Diamond Pure to keep the inflatable company!

The water? I totally respect it but I no longer fear it.

I started to have personal training sessions with Phil McCoy – he soon got the measure of me and realised I hated having a roof over my head and then we also realised we shared the love of SUP so my exercise went outdoors. It’s amazing the exercises you can do with a board and a paddle! His confidence being so infectious I have now ventured to the Hayling seafront and there’s a lot of Gopro action of me laughing, swearing and falling off on the surf and while trying to do step back turns. I am currently in search of a race board to complete my collection and even considering an instructors course, all things I would have never believed two years ago.

The fish? Mmmmm I’m not sure I will ever get over them.

My strategy is to fall in with as much noise and splash as possible in the hope they will just stay out of my way. I really must learn to shut my mouth as I enter though!! Only in the past couple of weeks have I entered the water by choice, once attached to a board and in a moment of madness I actually went in without my board to cool down – that’s progress!

 

SUP is an activity open to all, you can do it at whatever level you wish. Many get into it through being proficient in the windier sports and others just see it as a sport that you can explore and socialise at the same time. It seems to me one thing that everyone seems to agree on is its therapeutic qualities – to be able to glide over the water with such simple equipment under your own power while enjoying often amazing scenery has got to restore the soul. It’s a great full body exercise and if you are fit enough, racing is a very accessible sport.

There are then nutters like me who need to prove something to themselves and end up taking part in an addictive and rewarding pastime.

I sometimes get disappointed reading forums and chat from individuals who have forgotten what it is like to learn and explore – the know it alls, the want it alls and the have it alls. On the other hand there are so many SUPers out there that are brilliant at nurturing and respecting all that take part in the sport, including my two mentors, and to be honest they will never realise how much they have changed my life through pushing the boundaries!!

I love my Fanatic kit, but I have to say the attitude of the N1SCO has me excited because the racing isn’t elitist. Getting on the podium must be fantastic, but everyone is encouraged and so much can be learnt watching those running around the board and the buoys. The prize is in the taking part, exceeding your own expectations and meeting others with the same passion. I took part in the Emsworth race – my first ever race and more recently the “not so inland championships” that was removed to Swanage and now I have set my benchmark to improve on for next year.

I have an amazing (mature) friend who like me started to SUP only recently. She took part in the N1SCO race in Emsworth, where there was a really strong side wind blowing her off course. There also was an equally amazing lady called Amanda who did not care where she came in the race, she was only concerned that my friend completed it. She stuck with her, board on the leeward side ensuring they did not venture further into the harbour. Now that’s what I call team spirit in an individual sport. Wouldn’t happen in many other sports would it?!

I have been lucky to have the guidance from sport science professionals including a sports physio, an exercise physiologist and an accomplished paddler. Although I am far from being any good on the water I have learnt that there are a few things you can do to improve your efficiency and also to protect your body from injury especially if you want to go beyond the gentle paddle and chat on the way to the pub! I now have a very simple programme to strengthen the bits that are important and Phil McCoy will be sharing some of his expert knowledge on SUPboarder over the coming weeks.

Words : Jayne Lake

Jayne has started up a Facebook group called “Emsworth SUP Fitness’ to help bring local paddlers together – a forum to publicise when you are going on the water to invite others and to share useful information and events. She is also setting up a volunteer group to look after the coastline around parts of Langstone and Chichester Harbour – clearing litter and monitoring. 

Jayne likes a challenge, but also likes a laugh and is not someone who takes herself too seriously. So keep an eye out for Jayne and her ‘nutritional treats!’ at future events!

SUPboarder wishes Jayne all the best with her SUP antics this year. And hopes others will pluck up the courage like Jayne to jump in at the deep end, face your fears and discover a whole new world… the world of SUP. 

 

Will from SUPboarder is back with the last part of his solo SUP adventure paddling across Scotland on the Caledonian Canal. In Part 4  Will still has highs and lows with the changeable Scottish weather but paddles the last few miles to complete his SUP adventure. He then has to do the solo logistics back across Scotland to get his van which he left at the start. It turns out way easier than he thought it would! 

About the trip & vblog series
Will Rogers packs the van, hits the road and heads North for Scotland to paddle the Caledonian Canal. Armed with a ton of passion and drive for adventure. Will shares his whole experience including the planning and packing stage, the stunning 3 day paddle, and what he has learnt along the way. Hopefully it inspires and informs you how to do the crossing yourself or plan another mini SUP adventure. Enjoy!

Watch part 1 here : A SUP adventure crossing Scotland Part 1
Watch part 2 here : A SUP adventure crossing Scotland Part 2
Watch part 3 here : A SUP adventure crossing Scotland Part 3

You can follow Will paddle on the GeoSUP app link here geoSUP app / Scotalnd/Day 3

Will from SUPboarder is back with part 3 of his solo SUP adventure paddling across Scotland on the Caledonian Canal. In this Part 3 of 4 vblogs Will has highs and lows as he really gets into his Scottish SUP adventure and also remembers what its all about.

About the trip & vblog series
Will Rogers packs the van, hits the road and heads North for Scotland to paddle the Caledonian Canal. Armed with a ton of passion and drive for adventure. Will shares his whole experience including the planning and packing stage, the stunning 3 day paddle, and what he has learnt along the way. Hopefully it inspires and informs you how to do the crossing yourself or plan another mini SUP adventure. Enjoy!

Watch part 1 here : A SUP adventure crossing Scotland Part 1
Watch part 2 here : A SUP adventure crossing Scotland Part 2

Will from SUPboarder is back with part 2 of his solo SUP adventure paddling across Scotland on the Caledonian Canal. In this Part 2 of 4 vblogs Will hits the water and starts a SUP adventure he has been dreaming about for a long time. 

About the trip & vblog series
Will Rogers packs the van, hits the road and heads North for Scotland to paddle the Caledonian Canal. Armed with a ton of passion and drive for adventure. Will shares his whole experience including the planning and packing stage, the stunning 3 day paddle, and what he has learnt along the way. Hopefully it inspires and informs you how to do the crossing yourself or plan another mini SUP adventure. Enjoy!

Watch part 1 here : A SUP adventure crossing Scotland Part 1

Will from SUPboarder goes on a solo SUP adventure paddling across Scotland on the Caledonian Canal. In this Part 1 of 4 vblogs Will packs the van, hits the road and heads North armed with a ton of passion and drive for adventure. Will shares his whole experience including the planning and packing stage, the stunning 3 day paddle, and what he has learnt along the way. Hopefully it inspires and informs you how to do the crossing yourself or plan another mini SUP adventure. Enjoy!

Find out more about SUPboarder PRO here : Get more with PRO

Some SUP films are meant to entertain and amp to the core, and some films are meant to inspire you. This is certainly what the short film ‘Wild Coast’ from Lee Visual does. SUP surfing is a beautiful dynamic sport, and putting it together with searching out new spots that are off the beaten track and making the most out of all weather conditions is what the SUP lifestyle is really all about for many. Emre Bosu and Glen Pearson have a passion and love for their home area of British Columbia and riding waves. Together with Director Kelsey Thompson they searched, rode and filmed this epic SUP adventure in BC.  
British Columbia 'Wild Coast' / SUP lifestyle short film
We shot for six days in Tofino, BC in January. Being on Vancouver Island the area is known to be extremely wet with mild temperatures but we got the opposite, no rain and much colder than normal… well below freezing most mornings which made for some chilly shoots. Emre and Glen are among the few paddle surfers in Tofino and work at an SUP outfitter in the area called T’ashii Paddle School which is owned by Emre and his girl friend Tsimka. Our goal with the project was to showcase SUP surfing in the area and the beautiful natural environment that surrounds the many beach breaks. Words : Director Kelsey Thompson
British Columbia 'Wild Coast' / SUP lifestyle short film
We look forward to seeing more stunning SUP films from the guys and Lee Visual soon.  Until then find out more about Lee Visual and their stunning films on Facebook here www.facebook.com/Lee-Visual and Instagram www.instagram.com/lee_visual
The guys would also like to thank Blackfish paddles for supporting the project. A company that solely makes SUP paddles in British Columbia.

“A journey, a dream or an adventure should never loose the uncertainty, and always keep the chance to make something seemingly impossible possible. “ – Thomas Oschwald.

Fanatic rider and extreme paddler Thomas Oschwald is always on the look out for a new challenges, in SUP as well as everyday life. He loves the freedom and uncertainty that challenges bring, and the opportunity to make the impossible possible. He’s never one to take the easy route!

Thomas has recently returned from his latest 2 week ‘Polar Light Expedition’ in Norway where he paddled through the fiords to the North Cape in the tracks of the polar lights… in freezing temperatures and mostly in the dark! SUPboarder caught up with Thomas to find out more about his epic paddle adventure, including what planning and kit is required to paddle in such a harsh environment…

(Click on each photo to enlarge)
Thomas Oschwald - Polar Light Expedition

SB/ Thomas, tell its a bit about your latest expedition.
At the beginning of December I started my expedition in Tromsø, Norway. My plan was simple: on the waterway I would paddle for 2-3 weeks on my SUP, in the footsteps of the polar lights. For 500km I would be surrounded by nothing but darkness, coldness, and unknown waters. But with plenty of time and excellent kit I was looking forward to the freedom! The plan actually went quite well and so I reached the North Cape in just 2 weeks. On my way, however, I had to make some adjustments. For example, I didn’t cross any large fjords for safety reasons and the last leg I had to go on foot because of a storm. Adjusting my plan and facing unforeseen challenges is the real adventure for me and the part I love. But you do not have to travel to the end of the world to challenge yourself and be challenged by nature. Micro-adventures or micro-expeditions can be experienced at home as well as in the fjords of Norway. To enrich everyday life with adventure is something that I unfortunately miss more and more in our society.

SB/ When and how did you come up with the idea of ’The Polar Light Expedition’?
I like spontaneity and uncertainty; but on the other hand, I also attach great importance to the planning of an expedition. Since I am deliberately moving in civilized surroundings and looking for adventure in my everyday activities, the planning is mostly limited to the organizational aspects. I had the idea to paddle to the North Cape a year ago, but I did not prepare until 2-3 months before. A year ago, it was only a vague idea, which became more and more a concrete plan. Paddling alone and without support over long distances requires above all mental skills. From my past expeditions and micro-adventures I know that I am mentally very strong. Therefore, I rarely train for an expedition, rather, I test my kit in advance, so I know it well and know how to look after it. Thanks to my sponsors EXPED, FANATIC and ION, I have great kit and am able to implement a concrete plan within a very short time.

SB/ How long did it take you to plan the trip?
I really do not plan very much! I like to decide spontaneously and therefore deliberately leave a lot of uncertainty. But this mainly refers to the actual expedition or in this case the two weeks I paddled from Tromsø to the North Cape. The route was very roughly planned. I did not know how dark it would actually be! Or how it would be with the winds and currents. I like to deliberately not plan these aspects so I can make decisions on the ground. The planning gives me my direction, starting point and my goal. What happens in between I like to leave to a certain extent to chance! That’s why I researched primarily on the internet and, with the corresponding information and my experiences, put together a theoretical plan that I could then live out in reality. I plan my kit carefully, especially my media kit for documenting the expedition as there are many things to consider and I can not simply take all my equipment. I therefore have to make important decisions re kit in advance, which can then have an influence on my entire journey!

SB/ Did you paddle completely solo?
Yes, most of my expeditions and micro-adventure are solo projects. I like to challenge myself and be responsible for all my decisions during the tour. When I am on the road/water, I move not only through nature, but also through my own world of thought. I like to travel alone. However, I am happy to return home to the company of friends and family.

SB/ What SUP kit did you take and what influenced your kit choices?
After I paddled 1500 km to the North Sea about three years ago from Rheinquelle, I always use the Fanatic Ray Air Premium 12’6 “x 32” or 11’6 “x 31” with a three-part carbon 80 paddle for all my tours and expeditions. This setup offers the perfect mix between robustness and weight. Both are crucial factors that can decide success or failure. But equally important is the confidence in the equipment. Because when I go to my limits, I must be able to trust that I have chosen the best material for my project. Bad material is the worst and most dangerous in challenging situations. At Fanatic I am very well cared for and have a wide selection of boards to choose from. For each expedition I have always found the appropriate SUP and I am sure that I will continue to do so also in the future. Thank you Fanatic for the support and the innovative products.

SB/ What other kit did you take onboard?
Similar to the SUP equipment, I have been trusting the Exped brand for many years with equipment for overnight accommodation. From my tent to my sleeping bag, my lounge mat to my waterproof packing bags Exped offers me top-notch Swiss quality. Whether summer or winter, there is always the right equipment. Every sportsman knows how important recovery is during training, and on an expedition that is no different. I have a very simple quality test: the more often I wake up on an expedition in the morning and feel that I am lying in bed at home, the better the equipment is! On my 500 kilometers to the North Cape, I almost felt at home. Thanks Exped for the relaxing nights.

SB/Paddling must have been tough. What paddling conditions did you experience?
The weather was a little crazy! In the first week the temperatures hardly rose above -5 degrees Celsius and it snowed. In the second week they barely dropped below 5 degrees Celsius and it rained practically every day for several hours. It was almost always cloudy, so I could hardly use the light of the full moon. Because of the bad weather, I also had to wait a whole week before I saw the northern lights for the first time. Even though it danced between the clouds in the sky for only an hour or so, it was a breathtaking moment for me, which gained even more importance by the effort and the long wait. Besides the temperatures and the precipitation, the wind influenced my expedition strongly. Right from the start, I had to adjust my route and abandon the crossing of larger fjords. The waves were too big, and along with the darkness and currents, the risk would have been too high. I always look for challenges in the mental and physical area but never in risky situations. Otherwise the wind was on my side since he mostly blew from south-west direction, so I practically always had a tailwind. In addition, I was able to use the tidal currents, which were particularly pronounced in the narrow fjords. In the course of the expedition I noticed more and more how important it is to listen to the forces of nature. So I planned my day with the tidal currents and when a storm swept over the sea just before the North Cape, I simply completed the last leg on foot. Why fight nature when she can support me?

SB/ Staying warm and yet not overheating when paddling in such harsh conditions must have been difficult. What did you wear when paddling?
On the water I wore a breath-active dry suit. Depending on the temperature, I placed more or less layers of clothing underneath. Since I always wore a life jacket, which protected my upper body from the cold, the Ion base layer was mostly enough. A downpipe ensured enough heat on the legs. In order to protect my feet from the damp, I wore rubber boots, which I could combine with a dry suit. The feet had to remain dry in any case, otherwise they would be chilled in a very short time, since they are hardly moving when paddling. From the second week I protected my hands with the Open Palm Mittens 2.5 from Ion, which were very good for paddling and for the operation of the camera and the drone, since I could fold them back easily. In the first week it was so cold that I had to wear normal mittens. I bought some more gloves in Tromsø as spare. I ensured I always had dry spare clothes, which I could wear in the evening in the tent.

SB/ Paddling in the dark in freezing conditions is not something to be taken lightly. What safety precautions did you take?
In addition to the dry suit and the life jacket, I always had a GPS emergency system, which I could call for help in case of an emergency. In addition, I adapted my route because of the high waves and paddled only in the protected fjords. The main road from Tromsø to the North Cape always ran parallel to my route, so I had not only an additional orientation, but also more safety through the lights of the cars. In all my adventures, however, the respect for the natural forces is the most important factor to be able to safely return home. I am looking for the limits in my physical and mental abilities but not in dangerous situations.

SB/ What did you eat and did you carry all your own supplies?
At the start in Tromsø I had provisions for a week, and I had planned to re-stock again in Alta a week later. However, it soon became clear that my new route was past many small villages, where I could stock up with provisions. I found water either in small streams, which flowed into the fjords or I melted snow. At least once a day, I cooked a hot meal to get enough energy for the next day. Meanwhile, I tried to maintain my energy balance with bars, chocolates and dried fruits.

SB/ Where did you sleep?
Except for a few exceptions, I always slept in the tent, as it usually snowed or rained in the night. If I could not erect a tent for space reasons I found a rock formation as a night camp. Since my sleeping bag had a waterproof cover, this was also very comfortable in light rain.

SB/ You captured your expedition beautifully in your film. What media equipment did you take?
The documentation of any expedition is a challenge in itself! Since I document everything myself and with photos and videos, I use the cameras remote control. On this expedition I had to make sure that the cameras made good pictures despite poor light conditions. For the first time I also took a drone with me. I had to wait a long time, for them to come up with the DJI Magic Pro – the ideal drone on the market for my kind of self-documentation. The compact size and the autoprograms of the Drone are awesome and enable me to use them very simply. My equipment was as follows:
• Canon 5D Mark III
• Canon EF 16-35mm f / 2.8L II USM
• GoPro Hero 5
• DJI Magic Pro
• Three additional rechargeable batteries and one power bank per unit
• I-Phone 6s for live documentation

SB/ You must have seen many amazing sights, but what were the highlights of your trip?
When I saw the polar lights for the first time in my life after a long exhausting week. This moment was just breathtaking. There were also many smaller highlights, such as the dolphin encounter, the beautiful scenery, conversations with local fishermen, the chocolate mousse which I saved for arriving at the North Cape, and the first sunbeam which appeared after two weeks through the window of the plane. All these experiences and many more made this expedition unique.

SB/ How did you feel the first time you saw the lights?
It was a breathtaking moment. Most of all because I had to wait a whole week until the clouds finally lifted and I saw the northern lights for the first time in my life. It was as if heaven was dancing. I was so happy. Unfortunately after just half an hour the spectacle was already over as thick clouds pulled up. But I think because it was such a brief moment, it made the moment more special and a moment I will never forget.

SB/ What would you say were the biggest challenges of your trip?
The darkness challenged me the most. Despite the cold, strong winds and the tidal currents, I was able to deal well in the 3-5 hours I had twilight light, but as soon as it was dark, the conditions for paddling were a lot harder. Therefore, I had to adjust my route, the original route would have been much too dangerous.

SB/ Did you have any big surprises along the way?!
When I was recording with the Drone, a group of Orcas suddenly appeared in the distance, which swam in my direction. On the window of the drone it was already warning me that the drone had a low battery charge and so I did not know whether I was now friend or food for the Orcas! On the same day, I found an island in a fjord and enjoyed the feeling of living alone on my own island. The temperatures in the second week were also surprising. The warm temperatures just above freezing were pleasant, but the rain not quite so!

SB/ How did it feel coming to the end?
Even though I got accustomed to the harsh conditions, I was happy to return home. An adventure for me always consists of: departure, fulfillment and homecoming. Each phase of the journey has its own special charm and together they are the reason why I will always look for new adventures. After such an expedition, the everyday items are given a very special significance – a sun beam, a table to work on and having a home make me happy and satisfied.

SB/ So what’s next for Thomas Oschwald?!
I will definitely go back to Norway. The next time I will visit the country in summer. There are already first ideas and plans flitting through my head. They are still vague thoughts, but with each passing day they become more concrete. As soon as they form a concrete plan, I will tell you!

Thomas Oschwald - Polar Light Expedition

What a fantastic paddling achievement Thomas. You’ve shown that with some careful planning, sensible kit choices and respect for nature and the weather anything is possible. You’ve just got to follow those dreams and set those challenges!

To find out more about Thomas Oschwald and his latest challenges check out his facebook page and website. For more information about Thomas’s kit check out the Fanatic and Ion websites. 


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