It’s been over 3 years since the Stand Up Paddle Athletes Association was formed and I thought now would be a good time for a bit of a status update. SUP racing has changed a lot since SUPAA was first established. I’ve written this article to give an update on what we’ve accomplished, where we’re at now and where SUPAA is going.
The Last 3 Years
In 3 years we’ve certified 55 SUPAA race officials on 6 continents. The main mission of SUPAA is to improve the SUP athlete experience and our race official certification is the most direct way we can achieve this goal.
Our comprehensive rulebook, educational race official certification and online dialogue have directly and indirectly influenced the way in which SUP races are ran around the world. We still have a long way to go but it’s a solid start.
Through the race official certification and numerous articles and resources that have been released, we are pushing the conversation forward and creating real change.
If you are not happy with the way things are going in your local race scene, I encourage you to look at our rulebook, the race official course and let your race organizers know about both.
Real change doesn’t happen simply by talking about things. It happens with on-the-ground action.
The Olympic Movement
The ISA continues to push SUP for Olympic inclusion, and SUPAA continues to work with the ISA in trying to implement proper rules and infrastructure. There is still much work to be done here, but I want you to know I am trying on behalf of SUP athletes.
In February of 2017, I met with the new ISA director, Robert Fosulo, in La Jolla, California. Robert is the 3rd executive director the ISA has had in my time as SUPAA president. I’ve met with all three directors to push the same SUPAA agenda.
This agenda is marked by a desire to improve the SUP athlete experience through universal rules and qualification systems, better communication with athletes and NGB’s and working toward the ISA taking more of a leadership role within the sport.
The ISA has a lot of big plans but they need the resources to make a significant impact outside of their annual World Championship. I’ve told Robert and Vice President, Casper Steinfath, that I am here to help on behalf of SUPAA whenever needed.
The inclusion of SUP in the Olympics has many positive implications for SUP racing. However, I don’t think it’s inclusion is the answer to our current lack of growth or of a significant importance to the future of our sport.
The push for Olympic inclusion is full of and elements that do not directly affect 99% of SUP racers. SUP in the Olympics is a conversation that I will always be involved with, but is not the ‘be-all end-all’ of SUP racing.
Grassroots programs to get more youth involvement and promote the sport to new and existing paddlers is what is needed.
We have some fun ideas and projects coming in the next few months that will be focused on creating more new paddlers and engaging existing ones.
In the meantime, take a friend paddling who’s never been. We need more people being introduced to the sport!
SUP Race Training
While our main focus is improving the rules, safety and the entire SUP athlete experience, SUPAA has also offered SUP training advice and resources.
With the release of, SUP Training The Smart Way, in 2015, we formally offered SUP training programs that were purchased by nearly 400 athletes around the world.
While SUP training advice is not our main focus, we found there was a need to provide this information to help improve the SUP athlete experience.
More recently, I have taken this vision and will now be running all of the SUP training coaching, training and content through the website, PaddleSociety.com.
Paddle Society is an online SUP and outrigger training platform offering one-on-one coaching, customized training plans, and a comprehensive library of SUP videos and articles.
The entire platform is designed to help you reach your paddling goals.
Whether you are a beginner or seasoned pro, Paddle Society is designed to help you paddle longer, stronger and faster.
You can find out more at paddlesociety.com.
I will continue to share SUP training information but it will be through the Paddle Society platform.
Where Are We Going?
There’s still a lot of work to be done in the SUP racing community. SUPAA will continue to offer the race official certification, advice and resources to athletes and race organizers.
Nothing happens by merely writing and talking about it. It starts with maintaining a high level of quality at current events in order to keep our existing population of racers engaged and having fun.
Next, we need to add to the number of racers by encouraging new participation through grassroots training groups, fun events and a willingness to think outside of the box.
I believe a festival atmosphere at our events will help attract more families and ‘average Joe’s and Jane’s’ to SUP races. Elite racing is great but it’s not the core of our community.
I’ve written extensively about the exact steps I think should be taken to help encourage growth. You can see my thoughts and advice here.
The future looks bright for SUP racing and I look forward to helping push the sport forward in any way I can.
As always, your input and advice are always welcome!