“Pat Rawson, Focus SUP “I shape surfboards you can paddle.”
For the past two years, I have followed the global sport of SUP with an interest bordering on obsession
This is an exciting time of growth and emergence, and how the sport comes to define itself interests me greatly. SUP means many things to many people, so it would be a great service if the various factions took initiative for its direction.
We have athletes like Mo Freitas, Kai Lenny, Caio Vaz, Sean Poynter, Zane, and Izzy Gomez. But the sport is lacking are visionaries like Pat Rawson, the legendary surfboard designer who designs Mo’s boards and is single-handedly changing what is possible on a SUP.
I spoke with Pat twice over the past week for the paddlewoo podcast. My podcast focuses on paddle enhanced surfing. Pat is humble and kind, creative and smart; he understands SUP’s direction. He doesn’t like 10 foot canoe-boards in the lineup (neither does any real surfer), but does think SUP has a place in even the most competitive spots, even pipeline.
Currently, board design still guides paddle enhanced surfing. Currently, the ratio is probably 70% rider, 30% design – and when you look at the landscape of boards, Mo’s boards are performing better.
Let’s define “performance.” A SUP board should surf as closely to a shortboard as possible. She should be quick and responsive off the top and bottom of a wave. She should hold a line throughout a full rail turn and be able to generate speed without paddling. First and foremost, it is a surfboard.
So, where does the paddle come in? Isn’t SUP surfing all about the paddle?
The paddle should enhance surfing – period. The paddle helps you catch more waves, drive turns harder, and push turns farther than you can on a shortboard. It allows you to recover from blown maneuvers, gain speed in flat sections, and get more out of waves overall. The paddle is the extension of the art and should never be the center of attention.
More than anyone else in SUP, Pat Rawson understands this. I believe his thoughts on SUP boards and the future of the sport will prove to be prophecy.
But don’t take my word for it…