Anonymous Response to SUPAA

ed. There has been some controversy surrounded the SUPAA which is a newly minted SUP Racing body organized by athletes. This is from an anonymous athlete who should have a voice without repercussions but obviously feels like that may not be possible.


There seems to be a whole lot of fuss about not much doing the rounds right now and the debates seem to be more intense than any action seen on the water lately.

Could be that it’s the end of a long hard winter for many folk and the lack of water time has gone to their fingertips and keyboards?

Yes, I’m talking about that debate that’s been raging around the interweb and social mediums of late regarding boards, lengths, widths and water lines.

It’s great to see that people have so much passion, love and enthusiasm for what they like to do to be collectively vocal about their opinions, but are the loud voices of a small few shouting over the majority?

Are Olympics the Goal Here?

Ever since I first stepped on a board one of the most prevalent questions asked by those slightly unaware has been ‘is it an Olympic sport?’ as if for a sport to be legitimized, it must also carry the Olympic rings. Just trust me – this has something to do with this whole debacle raging right now.

I was brought up living and breathing the ideals of the Olympics and it’s where the vast majority of sport funding is directed in my home country, especially the high performance, pointy end of the sport. Having grown up training, rubbing shoulders and competing against many of these now Olympic athletes and medalists, most of them did it for the love of their sport and scraped through on the bones of the ass to make their dreams happen. Few of these sports are driven by participation by the masses and they are reliant on grants, handouts or professional circuits to pay the bills.

So are the Olympics important? How about we let our sport grow, mature, become what it may and guess what, like other new generation sports like triathlon (which for many reasons is going through an over haul to retain relevance), snowboarding and free skiing the Olympics came to them as they had matured into mass participation sports that draw media audiences and spectators which in turn sells air time and tickets. After all, the Olympics is as much of a commercial enterprise for host cities as it is a global feel good fortnight celebration of sport, athleticism and the human spirit.

Putting the cart before the horse and trying to lobby for Olympic inclusion at this point of the game is a simple cry for attention. There is also the small matter of consideration that should the sport of Sup come up for Olympic consideration there’s a large amount of housekeeping to be done prior. Remember the debacle of kite surfing being awarded the spot for Rio over ‘board sailing’ (they even changed the name from wind surfing to ‘board sailing’ when it was included). It was short lived. There are likely a couple of things we can learn from this. Before people go into detail about what shape things should take there’s a whole lot of basics that must go before it. Just remember that thing about house keeping – it’s got quite a lot to do with what’s doing the rounds at the moment.

So back to what has sparked the biggest commentary of late, the announcement by the SUPAA about proposed board restrictions and a date by which all manufacturers shall phase in these supposedly agreed industry guidelines. Corran Addison who for reasons right or wrong spoke out in retaliation and while you may agree or disagree with the points he raised, the key thing to consider from this rebuttal is who gave these people the authority to make decisions on behalf of everyone?

I pose a couple of questions regarding this. I attended the first meeting back in Dana Point in late September 2013 when forming an athletes association was proposed. Out of courtesy to the future of our sport and that I was in the vicinity, I, like many others, turned up.

With any gathering of individual athletes, strong personalities and opinions are going to overshadow those with quieter demeanours. Due to time restraints, I excused myself early having registered my name and contact details.

It was with some degree of surprise that I have yet to receive any mailing or notification (other than those I have seen via third party social media channels) the course of action proposed by the SUPAA.

It has been inferred that both athletes and manufacturers have been consulted. No, I haven’t had a personal phone call or consultation so that would lead me to believe that many others have not been consulted either.

I was somewhat even more surprised to be informed that the SUPAA had approached an event of national significance and been snubbed by the organizers due to the fact that many would not be able to participate due to their boards not meeting requirements. Hardly a drive to mass participation.

So while there are many benefits to creating a collaborative approach to helping everyone and making our sport more accessible, I think there are some more pressing issues to be considered first.

We will struggle to be taken seriously by the outside until we have done some robust internal house keeping and while the SUPAA (as well as others previously such as the WPA and other various training oranizations) has done a valiant effort in starting the path towards guardianship, I propose that for a moment everyone puts their agenda and egos aside. That we take a moment to remember why we started to do it in the first place and to form a constitution that is true to the roots of the sport and then take it from there. Let’s not restrain and constrain what it can or possibly could be. Let’s embrace organic growth and celebrate the innovation and creativity that comes with newness.

As Gerry Lopez so rightly put it this week, let’s do it for the love of it first and foremost and not let too many other things get in the way.

We will struggle to be taken seriously by the outside until we have done some robust internal housekeeping.

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