April 13, 2019, Dartmouth, UK – Lining up for the first time in 2019, Casper Steinfath pumped up his new Maliko Inflatable 14’0″ X25 for the Head of the Dart.
Leading into the race, Casper had a jam packed couple days with Naish UK’s Alex Tobutt. Within an hour of touching down in London, Casper went to work, hosting clinics at the local clubs as they worked their way towards the Dart River in Devon where the race was to be held on Sunday. “It was super cool to visit a bunch of local paddling communities on the way and see the stoke for paddling burning strong here in the UK. Besides teaching paddle techniques and tactics for SUP racing I also got to show off the new Inflatable Naish Maliko, which people were really excited about!” said Casper.
After Viking Clinics at Bray Lake and in South Hampton they made it to Totnes for the race. The Head of the Dart has been running for nearly 10 years and has grown into one of the two premiere SUP Races in the UK, that draws over 250 paddlers to the start line. Though, it is more than a race and most of the fleet actually consisted of very novice paddlers and people that wanted to try the challenge of racing for the first time.
“I was really excited to try out the new Maliko Inflatable that we had been working on for a while. I knew that I would have my work cut out for me racing against the 14ft hardboards, but nonetheless it was time to put the Maliko Inflatable to the test. It has always been a dream of mine to avoid the hassle of shipping and transporting big race boards around the world. I would warmly welcome the day that I could just rock up to a race with a backpack with my board inside,” said Casper.
The 11 km race was exciting from start to finish. As racers made their way down the Dart river Casper focused on staying with the lead pack which featured the top UK distance racers and they kept a hard pace. “I was really amazed to find that my Maliko Inflatable was keeping me right up there with the pack. Especially in the upwind it seemed that the board carried on just as fast as a regular hard board, if not better,” said Casper.
“My plan was to save my energy for the last 1 km and unleash a sprint at the end. Unfortunately, a combination of very flat water and a tactical mistake from my side trying to cut a corner led to me becoming separated from the lead pack. I fought my hardest to get back, but in the end could not bridge the gap as the hard boards still had a slightly better glide ratio in the flat water. I ended 4th overall in the end; 1st Inflatable, which still is a remarkable result I feel given the fact that I was racing the fastest hardboards in the world in flatwater!” said Casper.
“I didn’t win the race unfortunately, but the performance of the new Naish Maliko Inflatable was noted by everyone. Naish definitely walked away a winner in terms of recognition for our design and brand stoke. We kept pace with the hard boards most of the way and that in itself was perceived as a victory in the UK. I’m super impressed with how the inflatable held up and I definitely think we have the leading edge on the market right now against other brands producing performance inflatables,” said Casper.
More importantly was the gathering of the SUP community in the UK. “I was really stoked to see the UK SUP community in full flare. I am happy that we can remind each other that it is still very possible to have fun in cold temperatures,” said Casper, who routinely trains in freezing weather. The community aspect of the SUP races are one of the biggest draws to events like the N1SCO races. While the National Championships in Emsworth have already sold out, everyone is invited to come out for a fun weekend May 18 and 19 where there will be a social paddle after the races.
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