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From Watsonville to Norway: Watsonville-based Nordic Naturals to host Surf competition in Norway

Posted: Friday, Jul 5th, 2013

More than 4,000 miles separate Watsonville and Norway, but for three days in the month of October a piece of Watsonville will be leaving its mark on Norway.

Nordic Naturals, the Watsonville-based fish oil company, will host 100 international surfers in the Nordic Naturals Lofoten Masters surf competition.

“It’s an opportunity to support our mission of fighting the omega-3 deficiency,” said a Nordic Naturals spokesperson. “Every single person in the world can benefit from omega-3 fish oils.”

The competition will be held in two locations in the Lofoten Islands, the Ustad Bay, in northern Norway and the City of Flakstad, making it the world’s northernmost surf competition.

Nordic Naturals, who call Jennings Drive in Watsonville home, focus on delivering the world’s safest, most effective omega oils to over 35 countries. Nordic Naturals was born in Arctic Norway, where founder Joar Opheim grew up and where fish oil is a part of everyday life.

When he came to California in the mid-1980s to complete his MBA, Opheim was unable to find quality fish oil, and had to consistently bring bottles from Norway—filling his suitcase on trips back and forth. Driven by his Norwegian heritage, knowledge of fish oil and love of science, Opheim founded Nordic Naturals in 1995. Today, the company is the number one selling fish oil in the United States.

They’ve also sponsored athletes from around the states, and one of them, Shane Desmond a local Surfer, will be making the trip out to compete in the name of Nordic Naturals.

The 43-year-old pro big wave surfer has participated in the famous Mavericks surf contest at pillar point in Half Moon Bay, and placed second in 2009-10 when the waves were so treacherous, that the surfers had to second guess themselves before the start of the competition.

After starting surfing at the age of 12, the Harbor High School graduate fell in love with the waves and has never looked back since.

“I just love it,” said Desmond. “You feel like you get connected with nature, and the whole energy that’s going on when you’re out in the ocean. You feel like you become part of the energy, and you learn to just ride it. It’s a very strange phenomenon that doesn’t happen very often.”

The Santa Cruz native grew up playing various sports, but nothing compared to the thrill of the board and the water for him. Now, he’ll go into uncharted water in Norway, but he isn’t fretting the change of scenery, he’s embracing it.

“It’s going to be really cool to see the landscape, with the mountains with snow on them in the background, and you’re just sitting in the water. It’s always really neat when you go somewhere in the world like that. When you just turn around and there’s one of the most photographic backdrop you’ve ever seen.”

Desmond first signed on with Nordic Naturals after his top-five finish in Mavericks. While working at El Palomar, his second job aside from Whole Foods, he was asked to test out the Nordic Naturals product.

“It was a perfect fit,” said Desmond, “because I was already taking them.”

And for the past eight years it’s been a match made in heaven.

“He’s an inspirational athlete,” said the spokesperson.

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