August 14th – 15th, 2021: Casper Steinfath and Caroline Küntzel took home gold in both the technical and sprint SUP events at the Danish National Championships over the weekend. After almost a year with no competitions, both Steinfath and Küntzel went into the event nervous, but ready to give the races their all. Casper and Caroline both raced on their Maliko‘s which they both stated was the perfect board choice for the weekend, ultimately taking them to the top.
We sat down with both racers to hear what they had to say about the weekend.
Casper’s weekend recap: “Going into the Danish SUP Championship I don’t ever remember being so nervous or anxious. When I woke up on Day 1 of the event, it felt more like I was entering a World Cup event than the Danish Nationals. I think what got me all anxious was not really having competed for over a year, combined with the fact that my Danish rival Christian Andersen has been on fire lately and in the best race shape of his life!! I knew he had his target set on me. So, in order to beat him, I would have to bring my very best A-Game!
The setting of the event was in the beautiful coastal town of Sæby, where small waves greeted us for the 2.5 km Tech race while dead calm waters of the newly built harbor gave us the perfect arena to battle it out in the 200-meter sprints. The sun was mostly shining, but as the Viking Gods would have it the wind was howling all weekend long making it tough for all competitors.
My goals going into the Danish Nationals were to focus exclusively on my favorite disciplines — the Technical Race and the Sprints. On my trusty Maliko X23 I had trained determinedly towards the goal of defending these titles. I had put in many hours over the summer, but the question kept gnawing away inside my head: Would I be able to keep Polar Bear at bay, or was this the year my apprentice would surpass me?
The battle – My competitive highlight of the weekend was the final of the Technical Race. After securely beating Polar Bear in the Sprints it all came down to the final race of the weekend. Three words: It was Epic! From the moment the horn sounded the start and until we kissed the sand after diving across the finish line, we gave it everything we had. After tactically saving energy the first 3 laps, I made my attack on lap 4 and tried not to look back. A small wave propelled me into a 15-meter lead and I swore to not lift my foot off the gas until the end. As I rode the wave onto the soft sandy beach and bounced across the finish line I felt the same joy and euphoria as if I had just won the World Title. I can’t thank my friend Polar Bear enough for this battle that reminded me why I love the highs and lows of SUP racing!!
So all in all it was a special weekend of racing. I loved seeing the general level of racing keep skyrocketing in Denmark while still keeping it fun!
With the “Battle for Denmark” settled, for now, I look forward to the Euro Tour stops taking place in Hvide Sande and Madeira the next month.”
Caroline’s weekend recap: “The event went super well. My goal for the Danish Championship this year was to win the Technical and Sprint Race, for the 3rd year in a row!
Like Casper, I also felt like I had a lot to lose. Some strong women showed up to the event, a stronger field and level than last year, and I was actually really nervous about especially the tech race.
I also decided to focus on only two disciplines this year, since I really wanted to perform my best as a sprint and tech athlete.
The sprint was the first competition on Saturday, and I decided to take out the Maliko 14’0″ X23. The wind was strong and you needed to paddle all the time to keep moving forward. When the sprints started, I was in front, but I felt the other women were close. I decided to give it everything I had and I managed to pull a good distance away, and win the finals! It was definitely a really hard heat, but I felt my training paying off out on the water.
The technical race was on Sunday. The weather shifted between nice warm sunshine and rain, but with lots of offshore wind. The course was awesome, with lots of buoy turns and some small waves to catch before reaching the shore for the beach run.
Already an hour before the race I felt fully focused and ready to compete, but also a little nervous. When the race started, I ran to the water as fast as I could. My Maliko was the perfect choice and I glided through the beach start! I flew right in front of all the other women and had the lead from that moment. Even though I was nervous, all my buoy turns were perfect and my starts after the Beach runs were good! I felt in total control of myself and I got a longer and longer lead after each round. On the last round, I looked back and spotted a little wave. I caught it and surfed it all the way into the finish line! It was definitely one of my best races ever. I have never had my technique this perfect in an event. It truly felt amazing to feel all the work I have put into training lately actually pay off, even though I felt under pressure and was nervous.
I’m so happy about the result of the event! And it was awesome to see Casper do such a great job too and battle it out with Christian. That kept me even more motivated during the event.”
Way to go Naish Team! Keep your eye out for Casper and Caroline as they head to Hvide Sande and Madeira next month for two more stops of the tour.