This past week San Diego was hit by a big south swell which made for an epic couple days of summer surf. I just happen to find out that the ISA SUP surfing contest was green lighted and set to happen in Oceanside CA. With over head conditions-brutal rip currents and foaming white water the contest WAS AWESOME to watch. It became more of a chess match as the paddlers had to navigate different peaks along with where and how to paddle out. For most of the paddlers it seemed like the best rides were only may be 2 maneuvers before the wave blew up !
While watching from the beach I felt that the judging was a little more generous than I would have been but there was a few classic rides that really make SUP surfing special. It Wasn’t that the waves were crazy huge or dangerous but they were unpredictable and no matter how ell they were predicted they looked a little hard to read which left most paddlers caught inside or struggling to get back to the waves after a good ride. I havent been to a SUP surf contest and SO CAL REALLY needs more!! The amount of progression you see is so inspiring and although I can go surf every day at my local break you arent always getting to see the best riders. I love seeing people SEND IT but i also like seeing the latest and greatest in boards and paddles. And I seriously fell in love with the CAMO CUSTOM from infinity. Contests bring out the best in the wave riders and is just a overall fun time.
With this contest I was expecting a few of the bigger name SUP surfers to come and compete but some of the main paddlers from INFINITY-NAISH -STARBOARD were all competing in SUP races. With it being summer I figured that would be the case but there is also a new group of SUP surfers sometimes I forget that the STARS of the SUP world are already 10 years deep in their careers and have other things to focus on.
(above: Jason Latham off the lip )
It led me to think what is more important in SUP… WAVES or RACING ? (this topic can go so many waves and the arguments are endless but here is just a few thoughts) When it comes to ISA and other big events for the most part SURFERS PAY FOR everything and while it is cool to represent a team or country most the time you can make more money racing/ traveling and having your sponsor front most of the fees.LETS MAKE SURF CONTESTS worth it so the best guys comeout! For me I rather see guys making as much money as they can because if I could I would so I dont blame people for missing out on certain events. MORE money and effort should be put in to getting so SOLID CONTESTS in place and it can be high performance or longboard style SUP. We have already seen the best guys(Kai lenny -Dave Kalama etc.) switch to more of a wave focus and it would be great to see more of it !
RACES will always be around and on any given weekend there is sOOO many up and down the coast of California so we need to shake things up!! As a spectator I want to see the best guys SURFING stand up as much as possible. The racing side of the sport is in very good hands with all the new aggressive paddlers we have now. There is many debates for BOTH RACING AND WAVE RIDING but for the core group of Americans and Hawaii paddlers I think surf should be the main focus. With so many new faces maybe the scene will shift and new people will be on top of the SUP charts.
WHAT WOULD YOU RATHER SEE THE PROS DOING ??? race or surf????!?!?!?