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The Elite Sport of SUP Racing

The Elite Sport of SUP Racing

Stand up Paddleboard Racing is a new and exciting competitive water sport that is blowing up. Why? SUP racing combines all the great characteristics from SUP, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming and puts them all in one race. 

The lengths of races are the same as in traditional running races: 5K Short Distance, 10K Mid-Distance, 16K Pro Distance and 52K Ultra Distance. So there is familiarity in the distances and classifications. 

There are many nationally recognized SUP races across the globe. A few of the most notable are:

Battle of the Paddle California: 10-4-14

Na Pali Race Hawaii: 8-3-14

Ultimate SUP Showdown Hawaii: 8-17-14

SUP race boards are the most technical and high tech boards on the market. They are expensive, very narrow, long and light. Race boards are almost always constructed of foam wrapped in fiberglass or carbon fiber. They are lightweight and very fast. In almost all cases they have a very pointed nose and an extremely narrow tail. Surprisingly one single carbon or fiberglass fin is all that these boards need to track straight. More recently companies have started introducing iSUPs (Inflatable Stand up Paddle Board,) but they aren’t common in top tier races due to various factors. 

The world record for paddling a SUP is an average of 9.34 MPH over a 200 meter stretch.

Paddling technique as well as rider’s stance on the board is different than with traditional SUPs. You stand with your legs a bit wider than shoulder width apart, lower your center of gravity, and bend at the core more. You also want to use a shorter paddle with a larger blade so you can get more power with each stroke. 

Race SUP boards aren’t for everyone. They are extremely hard to balance on because they are so narrow, they don’t displace as much either.  Larger people might have problems on them because they are less forgiving. SUP race boards are meant for flat water only and aren’t enjoyable to be on for long trips unless you are racing. 

As an emerging sport and a fast growing one at that, SUP racing is gaining traction. Maybe in the future we will see SUP racing in the Olympics. 

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