First a disclaimer. I have nothing against actual SUPs. In the right hands they have saved surfers I know from non-surfing lives (shoulder and back injuries). However for an inanimate object they do seem to have an amazing propensity to turn a lot of normal laid-back wave lovers into raging, greedy and pretty dangerous people in the lineup. My skilled SUPing friends are often the first to point this out.
So why is the International Surfing Organisation trying to grab control of stand up goat boaters?
Money of course.
Apparently stand-up paddleboarding is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with well over three million participants in the U.S. and an annual growth rate of 26 percent, according to a 2016 report by The Outdoor Foundation. Thankfully it’s more on the racing and down winding side than careering through lineups, overestimating their own ability and trying to maim all unfortunate enough to be in their paths.
The smell of potential moolah has led the International Canoe Federation (ICF) and the International Surfing Association (ISA) to get into a right scrap over who should be the governing body for the sport. Of course at the heart of it all is the lure of the promise of cash should the ‘sport’ be accepted as an Olympic event.
The goatboaters think they are the obvious choice since paddles are involved.
“ICF statutes state clearly that a person using a paddle as a main form of propulsion whilst on a craft in water is canoeing, paddling,” International Canoe Federation secretary general Ian Toulson told Reuters.
Fernando Aguerre of The International Surfing Association meanwhile argues, “This is not a canoe. This is not a kayak. Sure, it may look similar. But you know, you can play soccer with a basketball and you can play soccer with a volleyball, but they’re not the same sport.”
Which to be honest, was probably met with confused silence.
Brandon Van Elslander reportedly said, “It depends on the day. If it’s a flat-water-type day, you’re paddling. But if the conditions change and you’re downwinding and surfing larger swells, you are indeed surfing.”
Anyway the whole debacle is going to a Swiss court- The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, in early December.
Larry Cain, a former Olympic sprint canoeist turned SUP racer says that for most paddlers it really doesn’t matter who wins.
“The essential thing about the sport is you go out and participate and you enjoy it. You don’t need rules and you don’t need people telling you what to do. You drive your board down to the water, take it off the car, drop it in the water and go for a paddle.”
And not run people over, or hog all the waves… Don’t forget that bit.
Should the ISA support SUPing given the problems in line-ups and conflicts with surfers and swimmers? Should SUPs be treated as watercraft due to their volume? Should skill level tests be mandatory on purchase? Let us know in the comments.