Buckle up, we’re headed to China.
I’m excited to announce that myself and Kelly Margetts will be hosting the live broadcast of the inaugural ICF SUP World Championships.
The “ICF Worlds” are happening in the port city of Qingdao from October 25-27, and we’ll be there along with a bunch of the world’s best paddlers to share the show with you and the rest of the international SUP community.
The 2019 World Championships will be spread over three days and offer $40,000 in prize money — a figure that’s sure to lure a bunch of the pros. The event features a beach race, marathon and sprint and is hosted in the same location as the 2008 Olympic sailing regatta.
Anyone that knows me knows how much I love commentating a stand up paddle race. It’s become my real passion over the past few years, and I’m proud of the impact my little “phone & gimbal” setup has had on the sport.
Fortunately the ICF and its national partner in China will have a full broadcast studio setup for us — all that Kelly and I have to do is call the action and help bring you a virtual front-row seat wherever you’re watching around the world.
Kelly Margetts needs no introduction. I’m really looking forward to presenting the races with this living legend — he’s not just an incredible (and ageless) athlete, Kelly has a sharp mind for race strategy and will offer unique insights into what the paddlers are thinking in the heat of the moment. I’ll be the host but I’m pretty sure Kelly will be the one sharing the best nuggets of wisdom.
The veteran athlete said he was “Stoked to visit China for the first time and see what the ICF has got in store for us,” and that he can “definitely feel some buzz building around this event.”
Kelly, who still mixes it with the world’s best despite being in his mid-40s, also joked that “It’ll be nice to watch the action from the commentary booth instead of trying to keep up with the kids on the water.”
So who’s going to be competing?
Qingdao will be the inaugural championships hosted by the ICF, meaning we don’t really know what to expect. But after watching a few of the ICF canoe events in Europe and chatting with the crew I’m feeling optimistic.
Germany’s famed SUP World Cup has become an official “lead-up” event for the ICF Worlds, while the championships have already received the support of racing powerhouse Team Starboard and a few other brands.
I’m going to chat with the athletes over the next couple of weeks and round up a who’s who of names — unlike the national teams-based ISA Worlds, the ICF Worlds are an open event that any amateur or elite athlete can enter.
There’s also an open race and inflatable contest during the weekend to entice the average joes and help build the sport in China, a nation that could become a key market for the industry (and the racing community) over the coming decade. We’ve already seen China host a few international events over the past 18 months and I suspect there will be a flood of races in the next year or two.
And while there are a lot of politics (or “paddletics”) with the ongoing ICF/ISA Olympic saga, let’s leave that aside for a minute and appreciate that what we’ve got in front of us: a world-class, Olympic-based organisation producing a major SUP event with massive prize money and a legit live stream in what could potentially be one of the sport’s key markets.
What’s not to like about that?
So pencil in the ICF Worlds from October 25-27. I’m not sure I’ll be able to bust out the old “baguette microphone” (“pork bun microphone,” perhaps?) but I’m excited to be visiting a new country and sharing this great sport of ours with a wider audience.