It’s been two and a half weeks since the last post on this site. In the five and a half years I’ve been producing SUP Racer, this has rarely happened.
One of the reasons was a last-minute trip to Thailand, which, if you follow @supracer on Instagram, you’ll know turned into a big adventure through the islands with Red Paddle Co and friends. We got some amazing footage that I can’t wait to share with you. But it was more than that…
Apart from the general fun of a tropical island getaway, this trip was a much needed break from supracer.com that refueled my paddling stoke and motivated me to go next level with the site in season 2017.
SUP Racer isn’t a job, it’s my life, and while it’s a lifestyle I’m eternally grateful for, this work certainly isn’t easy.
I’ve long since lost count of how many nights I’ve stayed up until 5am covering a race on the other side of the world, I’ve slept at more airport hotels (and airports) than I care to remember, and my single-year flight record is 138,765 miles.
In short: it can be tiring.
But this “job” can also be very energising: Watching this crazy sport evolve, visiting new places, meeting new people, and being right in the middle of a whirlwind of activity and passionate energy.
So, feeling refreshed and motivated after a break in the tropics, it’s time to dive straight back in.
There’s plenty of news to catch up on, from elite racing in Santa Cruz and St. Croix to pioneering events in Bangkok to world records to rumblings inside the Olympic movement, so keep your eyes open over the next 24 hours for some interesting international stories. But right now I want to give you a little glimpse into where SUP Racer is headed more broadly.
I feel like this season is going to be a real transition year for our sport, with SUP Racer being no exception. I never want to get stuck doing the same thing year after year – we should always be moving forward – so here are the areas I’ll be moving towards in 2017.
I experimented with it last year, but SUP Racer is going all in on Facebook Live this year.
Facebook Live is an incredible platform that has democratised the webcast and broadcasting in general. What would have cost tens of thousands of dollars five years ago is now just a fraction of the price, which opens up some amazing opportunities for a sport that doesn’t exactly have superbowl budgets.
The most obvious application is event webcasts, but Facebook Live can be so much more than that…
– EVENT LIVE STREAMS
I’ll be partnering with a dozen events this year to bring you a front row seat for some of the best races in the world. The SUP Racer camera gear has got an upgrade, I’m fine-tuning my commentary skills, while Facebook has added a bunch of cool new features to its live stream platform, so while it still won’t be ESPN, hopefully it’ll be an entertaining show.
But the coolest part of these live streams is the interactive viewer comments, which makes it feel like you’re standing on the beach next to a thousand fellow fans and chatting with every one of them about what’s happening in the water. It’s so much fun, not just to watch but to produce as well.
I absolutely love doing these Facebook Live streams at the races, so in 2017 you’ll be seeing a lot more of them.
– WEEKLY RECAP LIVE SHOW
This is one thing I’m really excited to debut this year.
I’ve always wanted to see a weekly talk show/podcast/webcast that sums up what’s been happening in our sport, offers analysis and opinion, and allows fans to weigh in on the debate. And I think Facebook Live is the perfect medium to deliver this.
I’m fortunate to know most of what happens in this sport, but there’s often so much happening it’s hard to know what to write about: too many interesting stories don’t get told simply because there’s not enough time in the day for me to write about them all.
So this weekly live show will be a way to cover everything that’s happening behind the scenes in our sport. It’ll be unscripted, off the cuff, perhaps occasionally controversial and hopefully always entertaining.
From race analysis to industry news to behind the scenes insights about what’s really been happening and what’s in store for the future, this show will cover it. I’ll even have an athlete or industry legend as a special guest each week to bring you even more expert opinions.
And of course you’ll have the chance to throw any questions at me (and my special guest) during every live stream.
It doesn’t even have a title yet (let alone a launch date; let’s just say “soon…”), but I think this show is going to be a lot of fun.
– LIVE PREVIEWS & PREDICTIONS
One of the things I really love doing is my “Preview & Predictions” posts before each big race. However those things take waaay too long to write: I often end up running out of time and not doing them at all.
But with Facebook Live it’s going to be a lot easier: I can sit down for half an hour on the eve of the race and run through the form guide plus answer any questions you’ve got. Again: it’ll be unscripted and off the cuff, but I think that just makes it even more interesting.
Just like the live recaps, we’re going to be having a lot of fun with these shows.
– RACE COMMENTARY
Apart from the Facebook Live streams that I’ll be doing myself, I’ve also been chatting with some of the big events about commentating on their full-production webcasts.
Live coverage is the icing on top for an event, but too many events skimp on it (or worse: skip it entirely). It makes a massive difference if a webcast can offer good insight and analysis to really tell a story rather than just pointing a camera at the action.
No matter what the sport, I believe good, insightful commentary can make viewers feel like they’re right there in the thick of it. It can also make things a lot more interesting to watch.
This is something I’m really passionate about. I feel it’s something I can contribute to the sport, while on a personal level I really want to improve my technical commentating skills (I’m already practicing how to stop saying “ummm” and “you know” every sentence; it’s a tough habit to break).
The core of this site is the SUP Racer World Rankings, which was born from a simple love of statistics and paddling but has since grown to become the de facto standard measurement of performance in this sport.
I feel like I have a real responsibility to keep the rankings not only accurate but also as interesting and entertaining as possible, so in season 2017 there will be a few new additions to the rankings ecosystem.
– BATTLE OF THE BRANDS V2
Battle of the Brands was a basic spin-off from the original World Rankings that has since taken on a complex life of its own, becoming a (very) popular way to analyse the top race teams while offering bragging rights for the brands.
I already announced we’d do a Season 2017 reset of the Battle of the Brands leaderboard to fix the one flaw in the system (athlete team changes). The new leaderboard will be out early next week, but that’s just the start.
Battle of the Brands is going to be a huge focus on SUP Racer this year, and I think we’ve got a few tweaks to the system that will make it more entertaining, engaging and valuable than ever.
– WORLD RANKINGS REDESIGN
This one doesn’t need much explanation: The top 100 and top 50 leaderboards are plain-looking data tables that have been in desperate need of a makeover for years. So finally this year they’re going to get the full glamour treatment, bringing our sport’s world rankings in line with the professional-looking leaderboards you see in formula 1, surfing and tennis.
– ATHLETE PROFILES
Along with the World Rankings leaderboard makeover, we’ll also be creating profiles for all the top athletes that’ll help you get to know your favourite paddlers better while also offering up historical rankings and other interesting stats and insights.
If junior paddlers are the future of our sport, then the future of our sport is looking a little shaky. Not because we lack a group of extremely talented young athletes – there are some absolute world-beaters that haven’t even celebrated their 16th birthdays yet – but because these extremely talented young athletes lack the proper platform they need.
While more and more big events are adding junior divisions, I think we’ve still got a massive amount of work to do in order to secure the future of SUP racing. This applies to everyone from events to brands to the media.
So at SUP Racer we’re going to focus a lot more on juniors this year, from showcasing rising talents to simply giving junior racing more attention in our editorial content.
We’ll also be lobbying the big events that don’t already have junior races to get it together and offer the youth a platform to compete and mature.
SUP Racer has always been the pulse of the elite side of our sport, but this year I want to focus on the “other side of SUP,” whether that’s some of the lesser known races or stories that aren’t related to racing at all.
And the biggest focus is going to be adventure travel.
I think paddleboarding is the perfect avenue to go exploring our world. Whether it’s a far away tropical island or an urban river, SUP offers us a unique perspective of the world around us. I think it’s one of the main reasons why we love this sport, so I think we should focus on it a lot more.
And besides, if all we ever did was talk about uber-serious racing and stats then life would get a little boring.
Our exotic trek through Thailand last week was just the start: look out for a lot more adventurous travels on SUP Racer this year. And follow @wheresbossman to be part of the fun.
So there you go, that’s just some of what’s in store for SUP Racer in 2017. It’s going to be an exciting year for our sport, and SUP Racer will be giving you a front row seat to all the action.
Now, time to stop looking through my Thailand photo album and go write half a dozen stories about what’s been happening in the paddleboarding world over the past two weeks.
It’s only 1am right now – I’m slowly getting better at this.