"It will be a survival trip more than a competition, and it makes me scared to death and deadly excited at the same time", says defending Heavy Water champion Casper Steinfath about this years event. Foto: Red Bull Content Pool.
The Danish Viking is determined in defending his 2017 Red Bull Heavy Water title this Friday morning at Ocean Beach, San Francisco. But the 26-year-old Casper Steinfath is 'scared to death'.
The world’s best 24 male paddlers and 12 female paddlers will face waves the size of buildings and this scares the Dane even though he can celebrate his 10-year-anniversary as a professional standup paddler this year.
- We are facing these fast moving and dense liquid mountains. It will be a survival trip more than a competition, and it makes me scared to death and deadly excited at the same time. Two similar feelings, yet so different, Casper Steinfath says.
Broken boards, broken leashes and broken dreams
He has just finished a training session at Ocean Beach to taste the waves before Mother Nature turns the Pacific Ocean to something very different than the smaller waves he is used to in his hometown, Klitmøller in Cold Hawaii.
He claimed the 2017-title with a major margin to the nearest paddler, Ryan Funk from USA, under similar conditions that they will be facing this year. People who were at the beach that day or watched the recap, will recall brutal and unforgiving conditions that put even the best paddlers to test. Broken boards, broken leashes and broken dreams is again to be expected when athletes will be navigating through this heavy surf that has been building up all the way from Hagibis that hit Japan last weekend
Casper Steinfath’s coastline in his backyard of Cold Hawaii in Denmark is rough, but it's incomparable to what he will face on Friday.
Waves will hit the paddles with 50 km/h
- Cold Hawaii is nothing like this. The waves will hit us with 50 km/h, and we will be paddling against and at times with millions of tons of water that make these waves so strong. I guess that the wave speed in Denmark is half of this – on the good days. But of course, many years of practicing in the rough North Sea conditions have hardened me for occasions like this, the Red Bull athlete says.
At the last edition of Red Bull Heavy Water, the course started in the white water surf zone. This year, the paddlers start at Aquatic Park down town San Francisco, then paddle through unpredictable current conditions under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and finally continue further south to the wave party at Ocean Beach, where the racers will then fight their way in and out through the surf no less than three times.
The Danish Viking will without a doubt be paddling as hard as he can, but humbly understands that expecting to defend his title will ultimately come down to what Mother Nature throws at him and how he reacts to that.
Looking forward to Danish pastry on shore
- I'm looking forward to standing on dry land again with a cold beer and a Danish pastry hopefully with all my bones and my Naish board intact, he says.
- But of course I want to take another win, he adds.
To win the race and collect the 15.000 dollar prize, he will need raw power and lot of endurance to be in the leading pack before they hit the waves. And when they find themselves in the turbulent wave zone, courage and collectedness will be key to navigate through these monster waves.
- We will be battling our way in and out through the surf-zone three times and to win this race, it will require the ability to maintain as calm of an overview as possible in the midst of this chaos to come out/in on top and in one piece. Fear will be right in front of us all and will become very real. But if you can control that fear, you'll get through the waves, Casper Steinfath says.