Prize Money, The Ugly Truth: Stand Up World Series Give Us Their Official Response (Is This Drama Behind Us Now?)

Wateman LeagueOk so unless you were living under a rock the past few days, you would have heard about the SUP Athletes Association’s “Ugly Truth About Prize Money”  article by now. The story detailed the rarely-mentioned but all-too-common practice of SUP races failing to pay their prize money on time. And it caused quite a stir…

Well if you’ve been following the ensuing debate, you’ll be aware that the the Stand Up World Series has taken the brunt of the fallout. And with good reason: the World Series has failed to pay on several occasions, with athletes sometimes waiting 6-8 months to collect their prize cheques. Sure, there have always been reasons (some of them quite legitimate), however the simple fact remains that it’s been the hard-training, hard-paddling athletes who have had to cop it on the chin.

Though just be clear: The Stand Up World Series runs a lot of big races and usually pays its paddlers on time, while it’s also definitely not the only event to suffer prize money payment issues. Nor did the SUP Athletes Association focus their article purely on the Series. However the SUWS is the most high profile example of this issue, so it was always going to be the focus of the debate.

Hopefully all that drama is behind us though, as the World Series, now in its third year, plans to put its prize money issues behind it and gain some serious momentum in 2014.

But don’t take my word for it… in the spirit of fairness we spoke with the Stand Up World Series head honcho, Tristan Boxford, and offered to share his official response to the recent criticism. The full quote is below. In short: The World Series has apologised for its mistakes (which they’ve done many times in private, but now finally in public as well) and has implemented a range of new safeguards that will not only fix up their own prize money problems, but perhaps even set a new gold standard for the sport in general.

Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments.

And as a side note: This whole drama has been a fascinating insight into the behind-the-scenes workings of a young sport, one that is growing very fast and is quickly becoming a professional pursuit for its athletes. Though hopefully it’s a drama that is now well and truly behind us…

*****

“The Ugly Truth” Prize Money Debate: Official Response By The Waterman League, Organisers of the Stand Up World Series (racing) and Stand Up World Tour (surfing)

by Tristan Boxford, Waterman League CEO

Firstly to address the prize-money issue, the delay in paying prize-money this past year is something we wanted to avoid at all costs, but unfortunately was a part of the growing pains that we experienced over the past 2 years, something we have been working tirelessly to address and avoid moving forward. We are happy to announce that we are paying off all final debts this month, and have secured investment to create a positive cash-flow moving forward and a cushion to allow us to operate more efficiently and avoid such situations in the future.

What this means is that no matter what pitfalls are experienced through the year, the athletes will be protected: minimum standards created for 2014 and beyond will not only be met, but surpassed and these minimum standards include, but are not limited to:

  1. Mandatory payment of all prize-money within 5 days of the event, either by wire, check or cash
  2. Minimum prize-money levels secured
  3. No changes to any event within 45 days of the event (most likely increasing to 60 days)

Full World Series and World Tour Rule Book will be released mid March

Another benefit of this investment is to allow us to build out our team and avoid the bandwidth restrictions we have experienced over the past few years to provide a better product for both the top level athletes, but also for open and entry level participants, providing all encompassing and broad reaching events in all respects.

The goal with the World Series and World Tour has always been to provide a professional platform for the sport that promotes the sport and its athletes to the world, embraces the global nature of the sport and provides a dynamic competitive platform for the World’s very best athletes, but also the Surfing and Racing Communities at large. The strategy consists of the following key goals:

  1. Creating professional events in key regions to provide the platform for the athletes
  2. Linking them into a global Tour & Series that is uniform and makes sense to both the SUP community but also the general public
  3. Relay these events, the Tour & Series and their athletes to the world across all media platforms
  4. Provide both entry level and Open fleet opportunities for global racing and surfing communities

The reason that all these steps are so important is as follows:

  1. Making events a commercial reality is key, and without a strong marketing and media program, the scope for growth is limited
  2. Identifying a unified professional structure will further support and enhance the sport globally
  3. Embracing all key global markets and entering new ones is critical for the continued and healthy growth of the sport
  4. Linking professional racing with open and entry level racing will provide continued and enhanced growth for the sport

The Waterman League is a passion driven organization that founded the World Tour and Series and has driven both properties forward from the ground up. We are committed to the long term good of the sport and some of the major milestones that have supercharged the sport and that should not be overlooked include:

  1. Events in 10 countries with participation by over 20 nations
  2. Live webcasts that draw in 100s of 1000s of unique viewers per event
  3. Full length TV shows on each event that go out to 160 countries in all key markets across major TV networks (incl. NBC, Eurosport, Fox Sports, Fuel TV, Globo TV)
  4. Over 1,000,000 Youtube views
  5. A minimum online traction per event of >250,000 people
  6. News features that are aired globally across major networks as the events happen (i.e. our most recent event this past week saw daily news features aired throughout the day on major global sporting networks such as Fox Sports)
  7. $220,000 of Prize-money awarded in 2013: while we did experience delays in paying prize-money over the past year, we did award a record amount of prize-money across our global events
  8. $350,000+ to be awarded across World Tour, World Series and Challenger Series events in 2014
  9. Careers have been established and promoted through our events, with legitimate World Champions crowned from our sequential global event series since 2010
  10. Women’s Race Series and Surf Tour launched and growing rapidly

While the prize-money issue has been a real thorn in our side this past year, we are relieved to be able to not only resolve it, but ensure that it never happens again. As mentioned above, we will also be able to operate more effectively in 2014 and are excited about where both the World Tour and Series are headed: With:

  • new and major TV network deals in the pipeline
  • a vastly enhanced live production operation that will also include Live TV streaming as well as live web broadcasts
  • record prize-money levels
  • increased athlete benefits and a new membership structure that provides protection for all athletes’ rights
  • a new sales and marketing partner that will further strengthen all events and the World Tour and Series as premier global sports properties
  • 2014 will be a major breakthrough year for the sport and these dynamic professional platforms.

We sincerely apologize to those affected by our growing pains in the past year and are extremely thankful for their patience, understanding and continued support. We are excited to embark on a dramatic and successful 2014, so stay tuned to www.watermanleague.com.

Aloha
Tristan Boxford
CEO
Waterman League