March 15, 2017
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

‘Battle of the Brands’ Set for a Big Upgrade

Carolina Cup

The Carolina Cup will have a major impact on the 2017 rankings (photo: McQuiston/SUP Racer)

One of the most popular features on SUP Racer is Battle of the Brands, our leaderboard of the world’s best race teams ranked according to the performances of their best athletes.

The name came from a single post I did after the 2014 Salt Creek BOP, where I gave a shout out to some of the teams that punched above their weight at that event (the “Battle of the Brands at the Battle of the Paddle”).

That post was so popular that a few months later, partly inspired by the Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship, we created the Battle of the Brands leaderboard as you know it today. It’s essentially an extension of the SUP Racer World Rankings focused on teams rather than individuals. And it has absolutely positively taken off.

Over the past couple of seasons, Battle of the Brands has generated so much attention that it’s become a cornerstone of and something of a status symbol for the teams at the top (and even the boutique brands in the middle that manage to punch above their weight and crack the top 10).

I never thought Battle of the Brands would be so wildly popular, and while it’s mostly been a fun, positive and entertaining leaderboard to follow and analyse, I also never thought it would stir up so much controversy.

You see, there’s one part of Battle of the Brands that always gets questioned/commented/critiqued, and which has led to more than a few “politely angry” emails and Facebook messages:

“Why do athletes carry over points when they move to a new team?!”

When an athlete switches board brands in the off season they carry their ranking points with them. And because the SUP Racer World Rankings uses a 12-month trailing system, this means certain athletes will carry points they earned with their old team for up to 12 months on their new team.

This has a big impact on the leaderboard considering how many athletes change teams in the off season; we saw it very clearly at the start of this year when a dozen top ranked paddlers switched boards, drastically altering the Battle of the Brands leaderboard overnight. Suddenly, board brands that didn’t even exist last year were in the top 10 before the season had even begun.

Several brands (and general fans) cried foul: “Why does their new sponsor get the credit when they earned those points on our boards?”

Fair call.

I totally agree the system isn’t perfect, but the only alternative I could think of seemed ridiculous (and very complicated): Keep the paddler on their old team until their points expired while also giving their new points to their new sponsor, which would effectively put certain athletes on two teams at the same time. That would be both confusing and unfair.

The problem is amplified because Battle of the Brands focuses so much on the brands, when in reality it’s a leaderboard of the best teams. I probably should have called it “Battle of the Teams” but the name has already stuck.

So I figured we’d just continue with the existing system and that I’d simply have to put up with the regular questioning. That is, until a few clever people posed a simple question to me, one that probably should have been obvious all along:

“Why not just reset the Battle of the Brands leaderboard at the start of each season?”


By resetting every team’s score back to zero in January, any team changes that happen in the off season won’t impact the brand rankings in the new season.

Yes, if someone switches alliances mid-season it’ll still create a small issue, but virtually every trade happens in December or January so I don’t see that as much of a problem.

So Battle of the Brands will be reset back to zero next week, and then after each race in Season 2017 the leaderboard will be updated.

(Well not exactly zero — points from the first two races of Season 2017 – Noosa and Maui – will be included in this new leaderboard.)

Come the end of the season (i.e. December), the leaderboard will look identical no matter whether we reset it now or keep the trailing 12 month system in place. So this change won’t make any difference to the end-of-season positions, but I think it will make things a lot more fair throughout the season.

This reset will happen before the start of every season in the future; it’s happening a little late this year because this solution only just became apparent.

The main World Rankings (along with our country vs country Battle of the Nations) will retain the “trailing 12 month” system and therefore won’t change, but “BOB” is getting a facelift.

And it won’t just make the leaderboard more fair; I think it will also make the leaderboard more fun.

Instead of the team rankings being largely set in stone all year, now there will be a lot of fluctuation every couple of weeks, at least in the early part of the season. Brands will be able to jump up quickly but will also have to work harder to hold their spot; the leaderboard will be a lot more interesting to follow.

It should give exposure to a greater variety of brands, while also giving a shout out to some of the emerging athletes that weren’t on their “team” under the old system (it’s only the top four ranked athletes that count for a brand’s ranking).

This might also create a more visible and legitimate end of season teams champion — it’s almost like an annual “tour” for the race teams (again: see the F1 Constructors’ Championship for a good model).

I still expect the usual suspects to dominate (can’t see anyone touching Starboard this season), but I think it’ll be a lot more exciting and dynamic than previous years.

And like I said, the main point is it’ll make Battle of the Brands a lot more fair to all teams.

We’ve got a few other cool additions to the 2017 Battle of the Brands that I can’t really mention right now (but which are going to add a lot of excitement to this year’s international race season), so just keep an eye out for the revamped Battle of the Brands launching next week…



(Too long; didn’t read)

Because so many athletes change teams in the off season, we’re going to reset Battle of the Brands at the start of each year to make it more fair (and more exciting)