\ QUESTION: What Do We Call The Biggest Stand Up Paddle Races? The “Majors”? “Grand Slams”? – SUP Racer
January 1, 2015
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

QUESTION: What Do We Call The Biggest Stand Up Paddle Races? The “Majors”? “Grand Slams”?

Battle of the Paddle Salt Creek women's stand up paddle race

The Battle. (photo: Andrew Welker for SUPracer.com)

Golf has its Majors. Tennis has its Grand Slams. Cycling has its Grand Tours. So what does SUP have?

My first post of 2015 was going to be titled “The Biggest Races Of 2015.” For the past few days I’ve been drafting a crystal-ball article about which of the big, standalone events will have the most significant impact over the next 12 months. The Battles, the Carolinas, the Gorges, etc.

But while it’s hard enough figuring out which half dozen or so races will be the biggest and best of the year, which will attract the highest level of competition, the most participants, the most prestige, etc, it’s even harder figuring out what to call this collective grouping of top-tier events.

Yeah, this is one of those posts for the hardcore fans only… Try this for the lighter side of today’s SUP news.

So halfway through my “Biggest Races Of 2015” article I got stuck and realised my first post of the year was gonna be this one instead.

What do we call the most significant races in our sport? I’m talking about the REALLY big ones. The top four or five races in the world. The marquee events.

In the past the answer was easy – it was just the BOP. In the past the Battle was the only clear contender for this “top tier” list because it was the only one that attracted any serious chunk of the world’s best paddlers.

However, as the “Most Competitive Races of 2014” showed, there are half a dozen events starting to creep up in the “elite” rankings. And I think 2015 will be the year when at least 2 or 3 of those races step right up and become something very close to a Battle-level spectacle. Perhaps nothing will ever match the perfect storm that is the BOP, at least not for a few years anyway, but I still think we’ll have at least four or five major races in 2015.

If you follow Tennis you’ll know that the 4x Grand Slam events are the pinnacle of the sport: the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. These four are the most prized trophies in the tennis world. They’re worth more money, more world ranking points and, most importantly of all, more prestige than any other tournaments.

Simialarly golf has 4x Majors, cycling has 3x Grand Tours and there are probably dozens of other such examples in the sporting world.

But despite SUP following a similar trend to golf and tennis – an individual sport where there are hundreds of events each year but only a few that stand out – we don’t have a name for our big races.

Perhaps it’s because SUP racing is such a young sport. Perhaps I’m pushing for a name that isn’t warranted just yet. Perhaps we need another five or ten years of history and tradition before we can see what the long-term, major events are going to be.

But I’m not that patient.

Even if this list changes slightly every year or two (and I think ultimately it should), I’d like to see the “Grand Slams” or “Majors” of Stand Up Paddling become somewhat established now.

So before we even get onto the argument of which are the top races, firstly let’s try and agree on what we should call them. What do you think we should label this grouping of top-level SUP races?

The Majors?

The Grand Slams?

The Elite Events?

The Big Ones?

Though you probably didn’t even realise this was a problem until now, I think it’s rather important to come up with a title. It’ll give us something to talk about. Something to cheer for, to follow and to analyse. Something for the paddlers themselves to aspire to.

And we need that, because it’ll give a slight dose of clarity to this incredibly fragmented sport of ours.

Personally I’m leaning towards “Majors” right now. It just seems to fit. I’m not a fan of golf but I think the name Majors both sounds good and sums up what we’re trying to describe. We already know that the Battle, Carolina, etc, are the big, “major” events in our sport, so it naturally fits. Taking the label “Grand Slams” from tennis is too obvious, while the term “Grand Tours” doesn’t really make sense for SUP racing (save for the 11 City Tour of course).

Or we could just come up with a new, original nickname but I guess I’m not feeling very creative today.

What do you think though? I’d love to hear your opinion. If you’re as much of a hardcore fan of this sport as I am, leave a comment below (or back on the original Facebook post) with your suggestion. Again, I’m not asking which are the big races (that’s a whole nother argument), I’m just asking what we should label them.

In the next couple of days I’ll finish that “Biggest Races Of 2015” crystal ball piece. And perhaps we’ll have a proper label for the group of races I list…