SUP Racer: The New Wave
When I sold SUP Racer earlier this month, the first conversation with the new owner was about what the future might look like. What will the new SUP Racer focus on? What can we contribute to the sport? What do we want to analyse, share and explore?
The short answer is: a lot.
We’re going to work full time to bring SUP Racer back to full strength, and then we want to make it even bigger as we strive to help grow our sport. So if you’re curious, I’d like to share a little insight into our thinking on where this site is headed and the special features coming up. This is SUP Racer: The New Wave.
The rebirth of SUP Racer will be a mix of new and old. The New Wave is a nod to the future — to the many new features, stories and adventures we want to share with you. It’s also symbolic of the next generation coming through the ranks, which I think has been the most exciting aspect of international racing this season. The Wave is a tribute to where SUP began: the era-defining ‘Battle of the Paddle’ in the surf of southern California, and looking right back to the beginning: Laird and Dave’s adventures in the waves on Maui two decades ago that gave rise to modern stand up paddling.
There will be a lot new features on the new wave of SUP Racer. We’ll still be following the racing side of SUP (closer than ever in many ways), and the old baguette microphone will be dusted off occasionally (she ain’t stale yet). We’ll be covering the Euro Tours and the Worlds, the GlaGlas and the Chattajacks, and we’ll be promoting the big events and elite athletes that excite and inspire us — especially the young guns that are reinvigorating our sport. But now we’ll be looking beyond the finish line as well. New adventures, new stories, new types of paddling. SUP Racer won’t just be about racing anymore. It won’t even be just about SUP.
Basically, we want to help elevate and grow the sport by sharing paddling stories that can reach a wider audience.
But who’s “we”?
The new owner of SUP Racer is a very passionate young paddler who grew up on the water in Washington DC and now lives in the UK: Betsy Ray.
Betsy has been paddling since she was a kid, competing at a high level in both sprint kayak and outrigger canoe. Her motivation to invest in SUP Racer came from a long-held desire to create a truly international paddling media house. The general idea is that Betsy – now the majority owner – will be in charge of the business and management side of the new SUP Racer (thank god) while I’ll continue running the creative. The goal is to grow both the content and business side of this platform, which means SUP Racer is about to get a whole lot more active.
The reason I felt comfortable signing my life’s work over to Betsy (are we going with “Boss Woman”?) was quite simple: She wants to keep SUP Racer independent while expanding both the team and the type of paddling we cover.
I’ll still be the “voice” of SUP Racer, and we’ll still be focused on SUP, but we aim to expand. New angles, new insights and new contributors that will help us showcase “different” types of paddling, whether that be outrigger racing in Tahiti, canoe adventures in Canada or some of the more exotic disciplines from around the world (Vallam Kali, anyone?).
It doesn’t matter if you’re standing up, sitting down, riding a wave or charging across flat water in a 140-foot-long Indian war canoe, all of us paddlers share a common thread. There are fascinating stories everywhere you look. And that’s what lies at the very heart of SUP Racer: The New Wave — stories. Stories born of a love of paddling and curiosity of what motivates us to compete and explore. Stories we hope will entertain, inspire and help grow the sport.
I love the SUP racing tribe and hope to be a lifetime member, but I’ve always wanted to explore beyond its walls and see what other types of paddling are out there. Perhaps SUP Racer can become a sort of “ambassador” for the sport of SUP racing, preaching the gospel as we explore the outside world and reach new audiences. I look at it like a funnel: the more people we can reach with these diverse stories of paddling adventures, the more people we can invite back to join our tribe and grow the core of the sport.
Perhaps it’s always been this way for SUP Racer, I just didn’t see the signs until now…
○ The most-read post SUP Racer has ever shared wasn’t about a race, it was the story of Chris Bertish’s epic transatlantic crossing
○ The most-viewed video SUP Racer has ever posted wasn’t about stand up, it was old black and white footage of Australian surf racing boats (six million views and counting)
○ And the most-discussed article SUP Racer has ever published wasn’t even written by me, it was Jim Terrell’s famous “3 metre board class” debate (who votes we bring back Mondays with the Mad Scientist?)
When I look back at some of the major features that have gained attention over the years, I feel like this new direction we’re taking is going to be a positive one. With that in mind, here’s a preview of some of the upcoming features on SUP Racer: The New Wave.
2022 IN REVIEW
“How’s your year been?”
That’s what I’ll be asking some of the top names in the sport over the next few weeks. SUP Racer has been quiet this year but the sport certainly hasn’t, so the first thing I want to do is catch up with some of my paddling friends from around the world and hear about their season. Highlights, insights and behind-the-scenes stories from some of the world’s best paddlers.
And we’ll share it all via Instagram Live every week on @supracer.
SUP HISTORY MONTH
What started as an idea to write a “Brief history of SUP” has mushroomed into a 30-part series about the origins of the sport and its most influential paddlers, events and moments. There are a lot of new members in our tribe and many don’t even know what the BOP is, who Laird and Dave are or why Hawaii holds such a special place in our sport.
In short, we want to tell the story of stand up paddling: The good, the bad and the ugly (mostly the good…)
We’re going to share each episode in a combined podcast plus live Q&A session featuring key paddlers from each topic. We’re still working on the exact format, the only thing I can promise you is that it’ll last a lot longer than a month, hah. I think it’ll be a lot of fun!
The same way that world movies and world music have their niche, we believe there’s a fascinating world of paddling out there just waiting to be explored and shared. “Cayucos” in the Panama Canal, river racing in the jungles of Belize and the spiritual significance of Indian snake boats. We’re going to take a look at some of the more indigenous and exotic forms of paddling.
This is definitely the feature I’m most excited to explore — I mean just look at that boat 🤯
There are a lot of other features to come, including my own pet project with the “ultras,” but that’s just a little look into where this platform is headed. We’d also love to hear from you! What sort of stories, events and adventures do you want us to focus on? Send @supracer a message on Insta and we’ll add it to the list…
SUP Racer is being reinvented at a time when the sport itself is in a metamorphosis. The “culture shift” as we move away from the ocean to the flats. Gone is the Battle of the Paddle but in its place is GlaGla. Downwind month has disappeared but Chattajack is huge. Casper Steinfath didn’t compete this year but still produced one of the stories of the season. If you fell into a coma in 2010, when the only race that really mattered was the BOP, you’d be shocked to wake up today and discover there are more ultras on the international calendar than surf races.
But with any change comes opportunity.
I’m excited to be back, and I’m excited to share new stories, new adventures and new voices from the world of paddling.
Welcome to SUP Racer: The New Wave
UPDATE: SUP Junkie just posted an interview we did on Monday talking about the future of SUP Racer and introducing Betsy. Take a watch and give @supjunkie a follow!