Most people learn in grade school dodgeball that when you get hit by the ball, you are out. No questions asked. Organized sports maintain a foundation of rules to offer a uniform and consistent participant experience that can be replicated and grown. Stand up paddle board racing is here to stay, why should our sport be any different?
Out of a desire to help organize the sport we love, top athletes from around the world have formed the Stand Up Paddle Athletes Association. In addition to promoting safety, access and participation, the Stand Up Paddle Athletes Association was formed to help create comprehensive international rules to help ensure stand up paddling continues positive and inclusive growth.
There are many stand up paddle organizations throughout the world working to promote the sport. However, we felt there was a need for a single global organization to unify the racing rules and interests of all stand up paddle constituent groups.
SUPAA is not looking to be the sheriff of stand up paddling. However, without proper governance you get anarchy and chaos.
This could be somewhat representative of the current state of stand up paddle racing:
- Insufficient space at race start lines
- Lack of proper safety
- Untimely payment of prize money
- Confusing starting sequences
- Delayed start times
- Unclear drafting rules
These are just a few of the many problems facing stand up paddle racing worldwide. This is not our opinion, these are facts. Instead of simply complaining, we decided to form SUPAA and create solutions to these problems.
Our Board of Directors and Advisory Board are made up of the most experienced and accomplished stand up paddle athletes, race directors and industry personnel from around the world. It is from our personal experiences and passion for the sport that SUPAA was conceived and will operate.
We have already created and released the most comprehensive set of rules ever made for stand up paddle board racing. The 2014 SUPAA Rulebook was formed with the cooperation of the most experienced athletes and race directors in the sport and is available at SUPathletes.com.
This year we will not officially sanction any races, but will work with race organizers to educate them on our rules and implementation. Our Race Official Certification Courses will give race officials the tools and knowledge necessary to put on successful stand up paddle events. Courses are scheduled for the U.S. and Europe with an announcement of exact dates and locations coming in February.
In 2015 we will sanction the first official SUPAA events with race officials who have taken the SUPAA certification course. Through this process we can ensure SUPAA races are held to the same format and guiding principles all race directors, athletes and sponsors deserve. These events will be known as those that are most committed to excellence in stand up paddling.
In addition to implementing rules for a more unified sport, SUPAA is the first organization to establish international board restrictions with many of the biggest stand up paddle brands. Width and weight minimums will help our sport continue to be affordable and accessible to a wide range of individuals. We are passionate about stand up paddle boarding and hope our programs will help ensure an amazing future for the sport.
To support our mission, receive thousands of dollars in industry discounts and access to exclusive training information, become a SUPAA member today. Send us your feedback, and let us know how we can make your stand up paddle experience better.
Visit SUPathletes.com for more information and to become a member.
By Stand Up Paddle Athletes Association president, Chase Kosterlitz