How To Cheat At Your Next SUP Race

The SUPAA rulebook is a comprehensive document designed to be a detailed guide for putting on a safe, fun and fair SUP race of the highest standard of excellence. We created this SUPAA ‘Cheat Sheet’ to help race organizers, athletes and industry personnel quickly read the most important rules to be implemented at a SUP race. Read the information and pass along to other athletes and race officials!


Race Logistics: Choose a safe venue with plenty of space for the event site. Create a Facebook event page or race website. Announce your event as far in advance as possible. Include details such as race distances, course maps, event schedule, award categories, typical course conditions, board drop-off, travel info and any other relevant information.


Safety: Ensure at least one safety vessel or lifeguard for every 40 competitors in your race. Form a safety plan with alternate foul-weather courses, competitor extraction points and communication systems between race officials. Notify local marine safety authorities. Ensure trained medical staff is on standby or at the event site. Require leashes for any distance events of 10 km or greater. Hold a race meeting to go over start/finish procedures, safety and courses. Complete our safety checklist for your event.


Starts: The start of a SUP race is the easiest to control and can have the most impact on an athlete’s safety and race experience. Make sure to provide at least 1 meter of space per competitor on the start line. Read our article on starts to see a breakdown of why they are so critical to a SUP race.


Water Start: Create a straight line with two buoys on each end, perpendicular to the first buoy turn. Give the command, ‘racers to the line’. Competitors must not have their bodies in front of the start buoys once called to the line. Within 5 seconds of being called to the line, start the race on a single long horn blast as long as conditions are safe. A pre-start line can be used to gain more control of competitors in the water. See our rulebook for details.


Beach Start: Create a straight line in the sand with a set of two flags and black rope tied to the bottom, perpendicular to the first turn buoy. Two PVC posts and black rope costs $20 at the hardware store. Give the command, ‘racers to the line’. Competitors may have their feet on the rope but not completely over. Within 5 seconds of being called to the line, start the race on a single long horn blast as long as conditions are safe.


Courses: Don’t place buoys within 100 meters of the start/finish line when there are 30 or more competitors. Close start buoys cause unfair starting positions, unnecessary board damage and chaos at the starts of a race as everyone jockeys for inside position. Finish line buoys with sufficient distance will allow competitors to pass at the end rather than race to the last buoy for inside position. Think of the straight away in a horse race. The excitement builds when paddlers can come from the back and make a move through the finish line.


Drafting: Illegal out of board class and gender. Should be a non-issue if you start men, women and board classes separately with no less than 3 minutes between each start. Start sequence: unlimited men, unlimited women, 14’ men, 14’ women, 12’6 men, 12’6 women, surfboard class, juniors.


Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Excessive physical harm using any part of the body, paddle or board, using the board, paddle or body in order to block a competitor from forward progress, turning, drafting, starting or finishing, yelling at the start in order to create a false start, purposely impeding the ability of a competitor to paddle, turn, dismount, start, finish or run. All of the above are grounds for disqualification.