Tomorrow marks the start of the 2017 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championships in Denmark. More than 250 athletes representing 42 nations are currently gathered on the Nordic peninsula, where teams from each country will compete in SUP and paddleboard racing and surfing to determine the dominant countries of 2017. In contrast to last year’s ISA Worlds in the Fiji, the land of the Vikings offers a novel, cold and rugged forum for the global gauge of standup paddle competition.

“Each of the previous locations for the ISA Worlds were special in their own way,” says Casper Steinfath, Denmark’s prize paddler and vice president of the ISA. “The unique thing about having the Worlds in Denmark is how different they are (going to be).”

The competition spans ten days, two seas and the length of the country with race events taking place in Cøpenhagen, Denmark’s southeastern capitol on the Baltic Sea, and SUP surfing in Vorupør (also known as Cold Hawaii), the North Sea’s surf hub on the northwestern crest of the Jutland (Danish: Jylland) peninsula. The regional divide gives the competition the opportunity to tap into Denmark’s best on offer for each discipline.

Casper “The Viking” Steinfath waved the flag of victory for Denmark in the men’s technical race at the 2016 Fiji ISA World SUP Championships. Will he do so again this year on his home turf? Photo: Reed/ISA

“In Copenhagen we will have the flatwater racing in perfect conditions and surroundings,” says Steinfath, who will be defending his 2016 title in the technical sprint race. “Then we will move on to Cold Hawaii where the waves will set the arena for some awesome surfing and racing in the ocean.”

The ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship have been hosted in warm, tropical water since the event’s inception in 2012 in Lima, Peru, moving to Sayulita, Mexico in 2013 and then to Cloudbreak, Fiji in 2016. Historically the Australians have dominated the competition, winning all but one ISA World Championship overall title, which the US took in 2015. With top paddlers from so many nations competing in far more temperate and temperamental climate than usual, expect some surprises.

The Cøpenhagen leg kicks off tomorrow with the 20-kilometer distance race along the city’s historic shoreline, followed by the 200-meter sprint races on Sunday. With flatwater racing in the rear view, the contest will then head north on Monday to Vorupør for the ocean racing and surf events.

With a less-than-ideal long-term forecast on the radar for the last week, athletes are entering the event prepared for anything this year. Now that it’s less than a day away, Steinfath is optimistic about conditions.

“In Denmark you can’t really predict (the weather) more than two days out,” he says. “But it looks like we’re going to have fun waves in Cold Hawaii…and some sunshine in Cøpenhagen. I’m definitely having a hard time sleeping cause I’m so excited!”

Tune in on social media for updates and coverage and check back next week for a full recap, results and gallery from the 2017 ISA Worlds in Denmark. –MM

More on the ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship.

Read the profile on Cold Hawaii, Denmark from the SUP Gone Global feature in our 2017 Gear Guide.