When I first starting paddle boarding I actually told my friend & coach Pam Strom that I wasn’t going to SUP race. My thoughts were that SUP racing was crazy! People are on these giant boards paddling in the water. Some times they run from the beach with the boards, & jump on the boards, and frantically paddle to get ahead. I said to myself, why would I want to be a part of this chaotic scene? Why? Well the answer is because it’s a blast! I have fallen in love with the winter SoCal SUP racing. The winter races are inexpensive, around $25.00. When is the last time you entered a race for only $25-be it running, biking, or triathlon. Sometimes your entry fee includes lunch, a t-shirt, and if you register early a hat! The other benefits of SUP racing is the training. You will lose weight, your body becomes more toned, you have more endurance for other sports like running, it’s low impact, & you get a good dose of vitamin D. The community around SUP is very encouraging. I feel so fortunate to be apart of such a loving, giving, & understanding group of watermen & women.
So, do you need a SUP race board to race? Technically you don’t because many of the SUP races have a surf SUP division. This division includes boards smaller than a 12’6” race board (stock race board). Of course, you will be paddling the race coarse a lot longer! In order to go faster & really compete in SUP you need a 12’6” or 14’ race board. The 12’6” SUP category usually has the most entrants & steepest competition. I did my first race on an 11’6” & there were only 3 in my age group. I now compete on a 12’6” & this past Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge there were 19 women in my age group! Checkout SUPBoarder for another article on not being a racer to race!
You will also need a good SUP paddle for racing. It is suggested & recommended that you invest in a good SUP paddle if you are going to race. Do this even before you purchase a race board. The SUP paddle is a critical part of SUP. It’s not all about the board! There are several good brands on the market (i.e Quickblade, Werner, & Kialoa). I recommend demoing paddles & race boards before you purchase.
I recommend purchasing boards & paddles either from Paddle Planet or West Coast Paddle Sports. If you’re interested in learning more about SUP racing please contact me via text, website, or email. I’m happy to help you out!
Aloha & Happy Paddling!