SUP Racing: A Showdown

Taking SUP Racing to the Next Level

Dale Earnhardt once quipped: “Finishing races is important; but racing is more important.”

For the average stand up paddle boarder, the experience on the water often involves a single pursuit: to have fun. And as I’ve often noted here, that experience is determined by several key elements. The better the board, or more specifically, the better match your paddle board is to your skill level, is one key to your overall enjoyment.  Another element that develops over time with all paddle boarders is conditioning. So who at happens when you combine your skills, your conditioning, and the desire to race, perhaps on a SUP board like Laird Hamilton LXR 14’ Racing SUP? You look for an event to test your skills.

Race SUP

The Laird Hamilton LXR 14′ Race SUP

As this sport gains popularity, the chances you have to test your skills has increased. The 2014 SUP racing calendar is packed with numerous events around the world, beginning in January with the Orange Bowl in Florida and ending with the Tecolote 5000 in San Diego in late December. (A full list can be found here: SUP Magazine’s Event Calendar). A relatively new entrant to the mix may prove to the Kentucky Derby of SUP racing, an event so large in scope, that it has attracted the most elite paddle boarders to the surf of Hawaii, competing for a significant amount of prize money.

Called “The Showdown”, this event, in its second year, promises to be be one of the most interesting races on the competition circuit. It combines SUP surfing and SUP racing, two distinctly different SUP activities, and pits the most elite racers in the world, names like Danny Ching, Connor Baxter, Kai Lenny, Travis Grant, and Zane Schweitzer, on one of the scenic beaches on the planet: Waikiki. Even better, the event will be televised.

The way it works lends itself to some incredible opportunities for these racers to shine. First there is the SUP surf contest, which if the waves cooperate, they didn’t last year, should prove to be an exciting event as these skilled SUPers navigate some of the best oceanfront activity in the northern hemisphere. The second event is an actual SUP race. The winners of these two competitions will meet head-to-head in a showdown.

There have been rumors of a Showdown camp, where the racers actually teach the lesser athletes among us the tricks of the trade, so to speak. And to give the sport the recognition it deserves, it will be carried by CBS and televised sometime in September.

While this sport has a growing fan base, a broadcast event with serious Hollywood money behind it will surely increase the demographic who might find land-based competitions more to their liking. A well done broadcast can and will convert them. So if you haven’t tried this sport yet, now is the time to begin your training for 2015.

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