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 (read: propaganda war) for “control” of the sport.
But 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…
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…
→ READ MORE
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
In a major development that could drastically alter the future direction of our sport, the International Canoe Federation (ICF) has challenged the long-standing assumption that the International Surfing Association (ISA) is the Olympic-level governing body of stand up paddling, staking a rival claim and forcing a gridlock that has left SUP communities in limbo and blocked a potential inclusion in the 2018 Youth Olympics. → READ MORE
After months of speculation and anticipation, it’s official: Denmark is set to become the first European nation to ever host the ISA Worlds, with the land of Vikings confirmed as the location of the 2017 ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship in a major announcement today.
In a clear nod to its Olympic ambitions, the ISA chose to announce Denmark 2017 during the Rio Games, and even went as far as sending Denmark’s most famous paddling export and ISA Vice President, Casper Steinfath, to Brazil for an Olympic-themed photo opp to coincide with the big news. → READ MORE
In a major and very interesting announcement, the Lost Mills, one of Europe’s premiere SUP events, has become the first stand up paddle race in the world to be sanctioned by the International Canoe Federation (ICF), instantly elevating its status at home in Germany while setting up an interesting debate about the future of governing bodies within our sport.
The Lost Mills, which will see its 5th annual edition run from May 26th-28th this year, has established itself as one of Europe’s largest and most elite stand up paddle races over the past few years… → READ MORE
Stand up paddle racing is on the shortlist of sports for the inaugural World Beach Games, an event that’s designed to be the “Beach Olympics” when it launches in 2017. The event will be held at San Diego’s Mission Beach.
While this will be the first ever World Beach Games, meaning it’s hard to really judge how significant this news is (or how prestigious the event will be), it does seems like another vote of confidence for SUP’s Olympic ambitions. → READ MORE
History has been made today, with surfing one of five sports officially recommended for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games. However the news is bittersweet for the stand up paddling community: Only shortboarding has been approved for inclusion, with no room for SUP racing on the program.
Click through for the full story… → READ MORE
Will stand up paddling ever become an Olympic sport? The answer is, potentially, much closer than you think.
The long, slow crawl up the Olympic mountain has become a steady walk in recent months, with a flurry of activity turning the prospect, which only a year ago seemed like a fanciful dream, into a genuine possibility. While there are still many obstacles to overcome, the International Surfing Association (ISA) is a lot further along the mountain path than most paddlers realise.
So with that in mind, I thought it well past time for SUP Racer to post an update on the ISA’s bold quest for Olympic acceptance, and their support for the development of stand up paddling in general. → READ MORE
The 2nd annual Australian Flatwater SUPFest was held in Sydney this weekend, with competitors from across the country (and a few from overseas) racing down the Olympic rowing/kayak course at Penrith. The 200m, 1,000m and 5,000m SUP races were held as a sideshow during Australian Canoeing’s National Sprint Titles event… → READ MORE
Great interview with everyone’s favourite viking, Casper Steinfath, looking ahead to the 2015 season and beyond.
Some interesting comments about the ISA, the Olympics and unity among the athletes. I believe this last point in particular is hugely critical right now. The sport entering a new phase of growth that could bring a lot of excitement and potential but also the risk of splintering groups taking the sport in differing directions. → READ MORE
There’s been quite a bit of chatter about SUP in the Olympics over the past twelve months. Some see it as a great idea, others think it doesn’t belong, while many believe it’s simply inevitable if the sport keeps growing the way it is. One of those is the guy who pretty much invented modern stand up, Laird Hamilton.
Laird doesn’t actually do any SUP racing himself (probably not enough adrenaline in it for him), however he’s very active in promoting the sport in general, particularly on the SUP surfing side of things. And during a recent promo tour of Australia, where he was touting his new range of Laird StandUp boards, Laird offered his views on the future of SUP. That includes his take on SUP as an Olympic sport… → READ MORE
Remember how we mentioned that the ISA was off to Turkey, Casper Steinfath in tow, to promote SUP to the Olympic world at some big sports conference? Well that happened yesterday.
Along with International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerre, Casper showed the gathered Olympic dignitaries what stand up paddling actually is with a brief but enthusiastic demonstration during the SportAccord convention. Granted it was held in a luxury hotel pool, which is a long way from the Ka’iwi Channel or the beach at Dana Point, but I’m sure the novelty value alone would have made everyone in attendance stop and take notice. And no doubt that was the main point of the whole exercise: Spread some basic awareness to those in power. → READ MORE