The sport of stand up paddleboarding, specifically SUP racing, is being considered for the Olympic Games with possible inclusion in either Paris 2024 or Los Angeles 2028.
Two international Olympic federations, the ICF (International Canoe Federation) and ISA (International Surfing Association) are currently waging a political and legal battle for “control” of the sport.
Though if you ask most paddlers, SUP is a self-governing sport (see: ICF vs ISA “selfish parents” Olympic debate).
Below is a collection of articles we’ve written over the years about stand up paddling in the Olympics…
Mike Jucker from Stand Up Magazin – one of the oldest and most respected outlets in the SUP media world – joins us to chat “Chaos of Champions,” world titles and the future of the sport. Give Mike a follow on Instagram and help him celebrate 10 years of @standupmagazin.
You can also listen to Paddlecast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts
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“What did you get on Halloween?”
– “15 gummy bears, three chocolate bars and a couple of SUP world titles.”
“Ooh, I’ll trade you half a pack of M&Ms for your world titles!”
– “Nah, you can have ’em. I’m sick of world titles anyway.”
And just like to kids on Halloween, it appears the world titles of SUP have been handed out like candy this year.
By my count, there were 44 individual “world titles” awarded this season — 22 for men and 22 for women.
Even if ignore the confusing number of junior, master and surfing world titles (which would be generous), we’re still left with at least 18 top-level titles — six from each of the “Three Acronyms” (ISA, ICF, APP). Several athletes won multiple, which means we “only” have 12 different world champions.
12 world champions…
How the hell do we promote a sport that has 12 world champions in a single year? How do we market a sport that has no clear winner, no clear leadership and no clear direction. How do we explain the “sport” of stand up paddleboarding to the wider sporting world? How do we even explain it to ourselves? → READ MORE
The International Surfing Association’s annual world championship – the second World Championshps this year following the ICF’s offering in China last month – is about to get underway in the emerging surf mecca of El Salvador, with 27 nations and about 15-20 big names set to compete alongside 100+ national reps that’ll no doubt be surfing or racing with pride.
However, with this event only announced last-minute, the 2019 ISA Worlds are just as notable for who isn’t there, with several top athletes and many of the usual ISA suspects missing from the lineup. → READ MORE
Welcome back to Paddlecast!
My guest today is one of the most experienced (and opinionated) paddlers on the planet. Over the past 15 years, Paul “Jacko” Jackson been a pro kiter, paddler, foiler, team manager, retail store owner and now co-founder of a board brand: ONE Ocean Sports, which is producing some of the most innovative race boards in the world.
In this episode, we had a good chat about building a board brand, the endless saga of Olympic paddletics and how to make racing more interesting and exciting… → READ MORE
We’ve just wrapped up an historic few days of racing here at the inaugural ICF SUP World Championships in China. There will be plenty of things said about this event over the coming days and weeks, but for now here’s a quick recap of the final day’s action along with full results from the epic Beach Race events. → READ MORE
And that’s a wrap! The first ever ICF SUP World Championships are complete, and what an awesome few days of racing it’s been. You can relive all the action with full replays of the daily live streams (you can also re-watch every race on the SUP Racer Facebook page). → READ MORE
Welcome to China.
There’s been a lot of buzz around the ICF Worlds for a variety of reasons. So after arriving in Qingdao yesterday, and in the face of seemingly-insurmountable jetlag, I’m going to try to share my “first impressions” of this event, talk about what I got wrong in my earlier posts, plus tell you when and where you can watch the live stream that I’ll be hosting with Kelly Margetts.
My first impression is fairly simple: The inaugural ICF SUP World Championships are legit. This is shaping up to be a big event with a huge crew working behind-the-scenes to make it run smoothly. We’re still 48 hours from the first race, so we’ll reserve final judgement until after the weekend, but so far so good. → READ MORE
Remember that whole political saga surrounding the fight to get SUP into the Olympics? The one between the International Surfing Association (ISA) and International Canoe Federation (ICF) over who has “control” of Olympic paddleboarding?
The one I referred to last year as the selfish parents debate — a story that even made the New York Times (as well as some great April Fool’s joke material).
Paddletics. → READ MORE
Seems like it’s the month for paddletics.
First I posted about the ISA’s last-minute decision to host a World Championship in El Salvador next month, a move that left many paddlers scratching their heads. Then just last week it was revealed that several top athletes would be competing at the inaugural ICF Worlds in China. Oh and the whole political shit-fight apparently had its day in court in Switzerland recently.
Now we get to hear some unfiltered views from a couple of the top athletes about the whole idea of paddleboarding in the Olympics and which federation would best serve the sport. Connor Baxter and Zane Schweitzer chatted with Mike Jucker from Stand Up Magazin on Maui recently. Mike has been pushing this debate forward better than just about anyone, and he always tries to get an unbiased look at what’s happening.
The entire video is well worth a watch but if you want the quick summary: The paddlers think both federations need to lift their game.
As soon as the International Canoe Federation (ICF) announced it would be hosting a SUP World Championship in China this year, the messages started hitting my inbox.
“Who’s going?” “You reckon everyone will support it?” “Is such and such racing?” “Should I go?”
While running a successful SUP race involves far more than simply attracting a few big names, it certainly is one of the easier metrics to gauge interest in an event–especially when that event is billed as a “world championship.”
With the inaugural ICF Worlds just 10 days away (Oct 25-27), we can finally start to answer that question. As of last week, entries for the ICF SUP World Championships stood at 122 athletes from 35 nations. → READ MORE
In a surprise announcement that will create mild chaos for its national federations, the International Surfing Association (ISA) has just confirmed the 2019 SUP & Paddleboard World Championship is actually happening after all. The event will be hosted by the Central American nation of El Salvador (yes, El Salvador) from 23 November – 1 December.
No, they’re not announcing the 2020 Worlds, the ISA is today announcing the 2019 Worlds. In October. → READ MORE
The International Canoe Federation (ICF) recently confirmed a monster purse of 36,000 euros (about $40,000 USD or $60,000 AUD) for its inaugural SUP World Championships to be held in China from October 24-27.
Canoe & kayak’s global governing body has become proactive in its quest to promote SUP as a potential Olympic sport, which includes an ongoing legal battle with the International Surfing Association (ISA), however this is the first time we’ll see what they can actually produce on the water. → READ MORE
The Pan American Games were held in Peru this week. The event is known as the “Olympics of the Americas” and welcomed stand up paddlers for the first time in its 68-year history. The performances of Connor Baxter and Brazil’s Lena Ribeiro, the inaugural gold medalists in the Pan-Am Games surf race, presented SUP with a historic moment.
But while the presence of paddleboarding in an Olympic-style event is positive, one thing about the race seemed a little odd: “Why are the sponsors all covered up?” → READ MORE
Connor Baxter has won gold for Team USA at the Pan-Am Games in Peru this morning, overpowering home-nation hero Itzel Delgado and the smiling assassin from Brazil, Vinnicius Martins, to claim a historic victory at the first ever Pan-Am SUP event.
With conditions at Punta Rocas reminiscent of the BOP at Salt Creek, Connor out-paddled and out-surfed his rivals around the three-lap, five-kilometre, ten-man race to cross in a time of 24 minutes and 18 seconds — one and a half minutes clear of the runner-up.
Connor simply said he was “Over the moon!!!” with his result, which returns the Hawaiian hero to a spotlight that’s been surprisingly missing this season. → READ MORE
In a shock announcement, we reveal the international federation created in 1943 that will unify the ISA/ICF and guide SUP towards the Olympic Games…
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Grab the popcorn.
Just when we were enjoying a nice little break from the usual politics (or “paddletics”), the ICF has gone and lobbed a grenade at the ISA as the two international federations continue their bizarre fight for Olympic control of our sport.
Earlier today, the International Canoe Federation (ICF) confirmed it’ll be hosting its first ever “Stand Up Paddling World Championship” in Qingdao, China later this year.
Yes, China. The same country that hosted the International Surfing Association (ISA) SUP World Championship just three months ago.
There’s so much to dig into here that I don’t even know where to begin… → READ MORE
In a minor victory for both common sense and logic, we’ve just heard news of a positive collaboration between the canoeing and surfing bodies that may actually help the sport of stand up paddling move forward.
It only happened on a national level, and neither the ISA nor ICF (aka the “selfish parents”) were involved, but still, it’s progress. → READ MORE
I recently posted an opinion piece titled “The ‘ICF / ISA’ Olympic saga has become a propaganda war, and the real loser is the sport.”
The post stirred up plenty of debate as it spoke to a growing sense of frustration from the paddling community that the two federations care more about political games than the actual sport. “Selfish parents going through a bitter divorce” was the analogy.
In the end, the question didn’t seem to be “ICF or ISA” but rather: Do we need an international federation at all? And should we even bother chasing the Olympics in the first place? Is all this political BS really worth it?
SUP always has and probably always will be self-governing, so why do we even need an international governing body? Unless we desperately want to be in the Olympics (and neither federation has made the case why that would be such an amazing thing), then I don’t think we need either the ICF or ISA at this point.
But regardless of your take on the matter, it’s only fair to hear from the federations themselves. So immediately after posting the story, I shared it with the higher-ups in both federations and invited them to respond to the community.
Here’s what we got back. Take a quick read, and feel free to share your thoughts on Facebook once you’re done. → READ MORE
We awoke this morning to news that the ICF’s upcoming championship event in Portugal has been canceled after a successful legal challenge from the ISA’s national affiliate in the country. It’s a disappointing outcome that has been met with a mix of disbelief and ambivalence from a SUP community that is now thoroughly sick and tired of the political saga being waged between these two Olympic federations.
The battle between the ICF (International Canoe Federation) and ISA (International Surfing Association) has been well publicised over the past 18 months ever since the canoe world launched a late bid to become the Olympic governing body of stand up paddleboarding. But while politics are a natural (though unfortunate) part of any sport, this saga is becoming utterly ridiculous.
What started out as a political dust-up between two organisations on the fringe of our sport has become an all-out propaganda war that risks engulfing the community. And the first casualty is going to be the sport itself.
The ICF and ISA are acting like selfish parents going through a messy divorce and arguing over custody of an adopted child. Nobody is asking what the child actually wants, and neither parent realises that their “child” moved out of home years ago anyway.
It’s classic paddletics, and enough is enough… → READ MORE