Friday, January 27, 2012

Get to Know North Norway: Interview with Frode Wiggen, an awesome Greenland roller!

Frode Wiggen, the Senjaroller from Senja, North Norway with the Boreal Baffin sea kayak and Northern Light Paddlesports Greenland paddle enjoying the Northern Lights!
Frode Wiggen is the Senjaroller, from Senja, North Norway. He's an awesome Greenland roller, and obviously much more judging from the photographs and videos I've seen on his blog: Senjaroller which is in English and Norwegian.

Frode Wiggen, "Dividing the waters"
And Sea Kayaker Magazine has taken note too. The February 2012 issue featured one of Frode's stunning photographs called, “Dividing the Waters”. 

The Greenland rollers fascinate me. They are the ones I need to watch and study as they are the masters of rolling a kayak. They truly love it and they make it look so easy. It's the Greenland rollers and paddlers who have gotten me into Greenland paddles by letting me try the paddles, or given me one, and they are the ones who encourage me and others not to give up on learning how to roll.

If you are rolling challenged like me, you can understand the frustration. The Greenland rollers seem to be the most patient of all. They seem to believe that we will some day, get it too! Greenland rollers are great and inspiring teachers.

I was wishing there was a section on Senjaroller called, About Frode, but there wasn't one . . . yet. Or an interview I could read. So I asked him if he would tell us more About Frode. Here it is!

Interview with Frode Wiggen, the Senjaroller

Question: The February 2012 issue of Sea Kayaker Magazine featured one of your awesome kayaking photographs called “Dividing the Waters”. Can you tell us more about this image and why you submitted it?

Answer: I try to be creative, and take photos from special angles. I also want to put photos on my Senjaroller blog without explanation, so people can make up their own mind what the photo is about. “A photo is worth a thousand words . . . ”

My photo, “Dividing the Waters”, published as a full page in Sea Kayaker Magazine’s February 2012 issue was taken during a rolling session. I thought it was so nice that I wanted it to be in Sea Kayaker Magazine. I got a quick response from them that they would publish it. It’s nice that people like the photo. That gives me inspiration to take more photos. 

Frode learned the "dividing the waters" photo technique from Gnarlydognews. Gnarlydog is an accomplished paddler, paddle blogger, gear tester and reviewer, and Greenland roller in Australia who collaborates and shares information and technique with other paddlers. Gnarlydog is also an ambassador for Northern Light Paddlesports.

Q: Why North Norway? What brings you there?

A: I was supposed to be in North Norway for 3 months during service in the Norwegian Army. This 3 months started in January 1992 . . . so I didn't really stick to my plan. I have worked several places in the North, and now I never want to leave. The nature is fantastic. You have steep mountains, great places to free heel ski (also known as telemark skiing), and it’s not so crowded here. Off course it’s a paradise if you are into kayaking. Best off all, you have the midnight sun in the summer, and the beautiful Northern Lights in the winter. It can be a bit cold in the winter, but you get used to it.

Q: What got you into paddling and in particular Greenland rolling?
Frode Wiggen "down under"
A: I wanted to try something new, and one day I decided to give Greenland rolling a try since I knew a kayak instructor. When I started the course, I was afraid of the water . . .

The same day I finished the kayak course, I was addicted, and I spent a lot of my spare time in my kayak.

I tried a Greenland paddle from a friend, and after that day, I almost never used a Euro paddle.

Greenland paddles are the ultimate for me because I have a bad shoulder.

I consider myself a rookie when it comes to Greenland rolling.

A friend of mine is a very good roller. Seeing him do it for the first time, I thought: “What is wrong with this guy? Why use so much effort learning all those rolls? What is the purpose? No, I just want to do one roll, that’s it!”

The year after, I was in the water with another kayaker friend who taught me how to do a C to C roll.

I was able to do it on the first attempt!

That was way more than fun. When I got home, I spent several hours on YouTube watching Greenland rolling. I just had to learn it!

I was on my way to becoming a Greenland roll fanatic . . .

So, I called my Greenland rolling friend Ørgen Karlsen. He spent a lot of time teaching me the basics. He is a great teacher, but very nitty-gritty when it comes to teaching: "It’s not a good roll if it’s not 100%."

So now, I am addicted to this strange phenomenon called Greenland rolling . . . Maybe too much? You have to ask my girlfriend about that. But then again, she is also a Greenland roller . . .
And, do I think it’s weird to learn all those Greenland rolls now? No!
I like it because it gives you very good control. It’s fun and gets you outside the box!

Q: How long have you been paddling Frode?

A: I am only in my fourth year paddling a kayak. Before that, I paddled a canoe for a couple of years.

Q: Do you compete in Greenland rolling competitions?

A: No. I think I need to practice a few more years before I can participate in competitions. I don’t think I’m good enough yet, but maybe in a few years. Who knows. . . ?

Q: Are you in the kayaking profession? Designing boats, paddles, teaching, guiding, a professional photographer, etc?

A: I am not a builder, but some day I think I will try to build a rolling machine. It’s on by bucket list for sure! I also want to learn more about photography.

I love to take photos to show the beautiful place where I live. I am not doing any guiding at the moment, but I think I will in the upcoming years, and I also want to teach Greenland rolling when I get better:)

Q: Do you have any sponsors?

A: I am an Ambassador in Norway for Northern Light Paddlesports for their “take-a-part” Greenland and Aleut carbon fiber kayak paddles, which are in 3-pieces.

They are beautiful, strong, lightweight, and affordable paddles. The paddles are also modular, and you can convert them into a storm paddle. If you want to try one, (and you should), please visit their website and find out where the nearest dealer or ambassador is to you. Visit:

Q: How long have you been a paddle blogger?

A: I created my Senjaroller blog in August last year. The purpose of my Senjaroller blog is to show other paddlers where I live: Senja, in North Norway.

I hope my Senjaroller blog will inspire more people to come to North Norway, or at least get inspired to start Greenland rolling.

In the future, I plan to have some more mountain and ski photos on my blog as well to show other activities that you can do in the area.

Q: Can you tell us what paddling is like in North Norway?

If you plan to paddle in North Norway, it is a must to have a dry suit. The water is cold, but very clear, and in the winter it’s magic to be on silent water looking at the snow on the mountain tops. In some areas you have white sand and green water, and if you are lucky, you can see seals, an eagle, or even a whale. There are not many boats disturbing the silence.

Q: If I plan a trip to paddle and explore Norway, can you give me a few tips on good places to visit for the less expert paddler? The more accomplished paddler?

A: I think that you will find areas for less expert and accomplished paddlers wherever you go because of the coastline and the islands.

If you are a less experienced paddler, there are places near shore that have flat water.

If you want to surf or play in rough sea, you can head out to open sea. Sometimes in the same location, you can find both – calm and rough.

But, I recommend you get in touch with locals in Norway before a trip, so you can enjoy nice spots and find good launching sites without carrying your kayak too much.

There are some websites in my area for kayak guides, but they are in Norwegian. I’m working on getting some information available in English in the area where I live. If you follow my Senjaroller blog, I’ll post links to them when they are up and running.

Q: For travellers who can't haul their own sea kayaks to Norway, are there any outfitters you could suggest?

There are not many kayak outfitters up here in North Norway. There are a few in Tromsø. I will try to update my Senjaroller blog in the near future with phone numbers and people who can be contacted to rent a kayak, and who guide in the area.

If you want to visit Senja, Norway, where I live and paddle, you can visit: (Please note, the site is in Norwegian.)

Q: What's next?

A: My goal for this year is to learn more of the Greenland competition rolls, to be a better photographer, and just have fun in my kayak together with my girlfriend Wivian.

I also hope to convince more people to use Greenland paddles and get started with Greenland rolling.

It is important to know that you don't have to buy a Greenland style kayak to get started. You can use the kayak you have. The only thing you need is a Greenland paddle!

And last but not least, I want to motivate the BaffinPaddler to carry on with the Greenland rolling:)

Thanks Frode, for telling us more about the Senjaroller! I'm looking forward to more photos, videos, and stories on your blog!

For more About Frode, you can visit Frode Wiggen's blog at Senjaroller

For more about Norway and to see a video of the awesome Northern Lights that Frode gets to enjoy where he lives see Visit Norway.

Credits: Photos and links courtesy of Frode Wiggen.
Interview by Peggy Varner, The BaffinPaddler
(C) All rights reserved.

Happy paddles!
The BaffinPaddler