February 19, 2014
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

Confirmed: Hamburg Is Changing Dates And Location… Bad Move?

Hamburg facepalmRemember that public service announcement we put out a few days ago? The one that said don’t book flights to Hamburg because there was a strong rumour that the event was about to change its previously confirmed dates? Well, unfortunately the rumour is true…

In a decision that can only be described as *facepalm*, organisers of the SUP World Cup (also known as the Stand Up World Series Hamburg) have decided to move their event, both the dates and the location. Instead of their scheduled June 28 weekend, the event will now run on July 19 & 20. And instead of inner-city Hamburg, the race will now be held 1-2 hours to the north, on the sparsely-populated island of Fehmarn.

This move comes despite the SUP World Cup’s dates being confirmed two months ago. And despite the original dates fitting in perfectly with the rest of the ‘Euro Tour’ SUP racing season in Europe. And despite several other races having shifted their own dates to accommodate Hamburg’s original weekend. And despite Hamburg’s original dates lining up perfectly with Europe’s other marquee event, the Lost Mills, creating a blockbuster Double Header that would have attracted dozens of the world’s best to Europe. And despite many paddlers having already planned half their season around Hamburg. And despite several paddlers having already purchased plane tickets to Germany. And despite the original location (inner-city Hamburg) being a perfect, spectator-friendly SUP racing arena. And despite the new dates clashing with the big race on Maui. And despite the new dates falling just days before Molokai (let’s paddle 32 miles while jetlagged!).

In short, this move comes despite all common sense.

So yeah, as you can tell, I’m not a big fan of the date change. And that’s annoying, because I LOVE the Hamburg event. At least I want to…

This is the event that kickstarted SUP racing in Europe back in 2009 and has done more for the sport in that region than possibly any other race. The organisers put on an very well-organised show, they attract a heap of the world’s best paddlers and they even do a great job of securing mainstream media exposure, all of which are extremely important elements for a good event. In fact I believe Hamburg was lining up to become one of the Top 5 “most competitive races in the world” this year.

I want to be the #1 cheerleader for the SUP World Cup in Hamburg, I really do, but the organisers are making this event very hard for me to love.

SUP World Cup Hamburg

Hamburg 2013 was a great event that attracted plenty of elite talent. The 2014 race was set to be even bigger and better, but now that’s all up in the air…

Sure, events change dates all the time, it’s not the end of the world… However this one is particularly frustrating because Hamburg’s dates were seemingly locked-in two months ago, and so many other events in Europe were organised around it. Plus it’s a marquee international race that many athletes plan their seasons around well in advance (I know of several elite and amateur paddlers that have already bought tickets to Germany).

PLUS we were about to witness the big “German Double Header” with Lost Mills and Hamburg back-to-back. Europe’s two biggest races, back-to-back. Two weekends with two $20,000-$25,000 races and with driving distance between them. The double header was going to attract a massive chunk of the world’s elite, which would have done wonders for the sport in Europe. But now the double header is dead.

However despite everything I’ve mentioned above, the absolute most frustrating part is this: Why are the Hamburg organisers moving? Because of the soccer world cup…

Yes. You heard right. Hamburg’s original dates (the ones that were announced as “locked in” over two months ago) were clashing with the soccer world cup, which is apparently a hot-ticket item on the international SUP racing calendar.

It took me a while to process, but the basic argument goes like this:

1. The 2014 soccer world cup is happening in Brazil from 12th June to 13th July, which means Hamburg’s original dates (June 28th/29th) would have “clashed” with the world’s second-biggest sporting event.
2. Germany is soccer crazy.
3. The Hamburg event organisers, who in their defense are really good getting mainstream news coverage for fringe sports like windsurfing and kitesurfing, wanted to get the SUP World Cup into the national sports news cycle.
4. The organisers felt that the soccer world cup would drown out the news cycle and make it harder for the SUP World Cup to make it onto the news.

I realise that Germany is soccer mad and I applaud the organisers for chasing mainstream exposure for Stand Up Paddling. But really? That’s the reason? What are the organisers expecting, that these new dates will mean a full 10 minute in-depth report on the prime time national evening news, just because the soccer world cup is over and there’s suddenly nothing else to report on in the country?

Do the organisers realise that SUP racing must be about the #87 most popular sport in Germany. Even if the soccer world cup is over and there’s slightly more room in the evening news schedule, there are still 85 other sports that would take priority over stand up paddling…

Kai Lenny Hamburg SUP World Cup

There was so much to love about Hamburg 2013 and we were all really excited about Hamburg 2014… Until they went and changed dates. Here’s Kai Lenny on his way to winning last year’s event.

So yes. I’m annoyed. The Euro Tour was lining up perfectly this year. It was going to be huge for the sport in Europe. But now it’s all over the place.

I’m sure Hamburg (or “Fehmarn” as I guess we should now call it) will still be a great event. It’ll still be organised very well. It’ll still get most of Europe’s best paddlers and a few of the top guys and girls from overseas. But it won’t be nearly as good and won’t attract nearly as many elite paddlers as it would have on its original dates.

And even more annoying is that the entire 2014 Euro Tour won’t be nearly as good as it could have been, which in turn will hinder the growth of the sport in Europe. And that’s ironic, because the SUP World Cup was one of the events that really helped grow SUP in Europe to begin with…


Side note: Although the SUP World Cup is part of the Stand Up World Series global tour, the event is run by a local event group and it’s they who made the call to move dates/location after the event had already been locked in. So in fairness to the World Series guys, who we often give shit to for changing dates, this one wasn’t their call and they really didn’t want it moved either. Though at the end of the day it is their ship, so the World Series organisers will have to take ultimate responsibility for this mistake…