June 3, 2014
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

SUPAA And The ISA Are Working Together “For The Betterment Of The Sport”

2014 ISA Worlds Nicaragua Final Day (16)

Saw an interesting press release today from the SUP Athletes Association (SUPAA), which describes their recent collaboration with the International Surfing Association (ISA).

Long story short: SUPAA and its President Chase Kosterlitz have been working with the ISA over the past couple of months to get its World Championship event running at a higher standard. After a couple of meetings in San Diego earlier in the year, the ISA liked what they saw from SUPAA and invited the group to Nicaragua to help ensure a well run World Championship event.

It’s not like the ISA Worlds were lacking for experience before this: Barrett Tester (same guy who runs the Battle of the Paddle) has been the race director for all three annual editions, while the event has the largest budget of any SUP race in the world fueling it. However this is an event with big ambitions (being a “World Championship”) that’s working toward an even bigger goal (getting into the Olympics), so the ISA is gonna need all the help they can get.

The Association copped some heavy flak from one or two corners of the community when they created their SUP World Championship event back in 2012. The general argument from the skeptics was about the ISA being disconnected from the core paddling community and not “getting” what SUP racing was all about.

Some less than stellar outreach and communication from the ISA in the early days, as well as several prominent names skipping the ISA Worlds event certainly didn’t help.

However lately I’ve seen a subtle but significant shift in both the ISA’s approach to the sport and the community’s response/engagement. I say subtle because most of it has happened behind the scenes…

Perhaps it’s a little too easy to ignore just how much work the ISA does for this sport. Most of their actions take place in a distant world, where the Association regularly lobbies at major Olympic meetings for the inclusion of surfing and SUP racing in the games. That world is a long way away from the humble world of stand up paddling.

While it certainly goes both ways, the SUP racing community can be a little bit too tribal and inward-looking at times. That makes it possible to miss what’s happening in the wider sporting landscape and also makes it too easy to ignore the ISA’s long term goals, all of which are for the good of the sport.

This year’s World Champs seemed to reach a tipping point, so if the ISA can just get their scheduling and location down pat in 2015 then I don’t see why it won’t be one of the biggest and most important races of the year.

The ISA definitely still has a lot of work to do, both in terms of earning the “approval” of the SUP community, as well as the Association reaching their larger goal of getting this sport into the Olympics, however it’s fast moving in the right direction.

Working with SUPAA, which has some extremely experienced and dedicated paddlers behind it, is another step in that positive direction.

SUPAA’s media promo summed it up with the sub heading:

“The Two Organizations Commit To Working Together For The Betterment Of The Sport”

Can’t argue with that.

>>> Read the full press release on SUPAA’s website