When done right SUP surfing is one of the most pure/ beautiful ways to enjoy the ocean. When SUP really took off the market was mostly focused on a few key elements. The first was charging waves and using the paddle/board to create a unique dance with the wave…It had its own special style that wasn’t Long boarding but wasn’t Short boarding. It was something so pure and fun. Some of the best waterman really paved the way and gave WAVE RIDING NEW LIFE! Folks like Dave Kalama- Chuck Patterson – Robby Naish were leading the way and creating the competitive culture in those early days.
The second element was the life style. You could pick out a SUP and literally do everything with it. The equipment was made so that you could go surf head high waves and then still go cruise for a paddle workout. From what I saw as young man drooling at the pages of SUP the MAG and StandUPJournal it looked like SUP was the ultimate tool in the water. People like Brian Keaulana and Archie Kalepa really showed me that SUP was a tool not a toy and could be something for SURF\- Fitness- Life saving- Fishing-and Fun.
The perfect SUP scenario to me would be shoulder high waves and a few guys out. But because you are on a SUP you can travel between 2-3 peaks and no matter what the tide did you could ebb and flow with the changes.
Now days SUP has become so gimmicky and lost its soul. SUP media has all but been dead for awhile because they cant quite seem to stay on top of what people want to see. What was once a crazy niche part of paddling is now all you see when you think of SUP and that is SUP yoga… We went from pages and photos of people charging waves and doing workouts to dudes and hot chicks posing on boards or people in exotic destinations… Downward Dog on a SUP isnt technically SUP if you think about it because you arent paddling or standing…( YOGA on water is still bad ass lol)
This past year has also seen a lot of contests shutting down like Pacific PaddleGames in CA and a couple races in Hawaii. Times are changing and the performance side of SUP i think has gone so far that we are just imitating WSL shortboard guys but with paddles in hand. Boards are smaller than ever and most companies only offer really small or really big for experts or newbies who want to just be on the water. With the changing times it seems we have also lost most of our stars or pioneers to other sports. Kalama – Kai Lenny- etc have moved on to foiling or reverted back to prone surfing.
So when I say SUP is dead…I mean SUP as I knew it…Balance -Endurance-Strength and traditon have all been kind of pushed away for instagram photos and yoga sunsets…You can find me at Cardiff Beach CA -almost everyday with my 10 foot board riding every wave from 1foot to 10 foot keeping faith alive that SUP as a whole will one day refocus on hui o he’e nalu-wave sliding!