December 26, 2011
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

World Paddle Association 2012 Updates

The World Paddle Association (WPA) has just announced
a bunch of updates for the 2012 stand up paddle racing season.

The WPA’s goal has always been to set a uniform standard for SUP racing; course rules, board classes, age divisions, etc. Since it was founded two years ago by Scott Sanchez and Byron Kurt, the Association has mainly focused on its home turf in the USA, where it already sanctions several regional, national and international stand up paddle races.

So the big update for 2012 is the international expansion, with governing bodies in Australia, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico set to host WPA-sanctioned events in 2012. It’s unclear if these four new bodies are all new, or if they’re simply existing SUP organisations that have affiliated themselves with the World Paddle Association.

Three of those countries are close to home for the WPA, which makes sense as far as expansion goes and will hopefully ensure these new series get off the ground.

But the interesting one will be Australia.

It’s possibly the one country most heavily stacked with SUP talent – in the recent BoP California Elite Race alone, 6 of the top 14 men were Aussies (and all from the same hometown) – yet it’s the one paddling hot spot that still doesn’t really have its own national or international races.

Surfing Australia recently jumped on the bandwagon and partly filled the void with their 2012 SUP Series, which compliments the bunch of local and regional clubs stepping up and organising bigger & better races. Plus there’s the new Stand Up World Series (which will have 16x races around the world in 2012, including one in Australia).

So it’ll be interesting to see where the WPA fits in; whether or not they’ll create their own events or simply help guide some of the existing races with their established rules.

But either way, I think it’s great to have several different organisations driving such a young sport. It should help stand up paddle racing to grow a lot faster than if there was just one group doing all the promotion.

Though SUP racing does already has at least four different “World Championships”… so hopefully in a few years things will even out and we’ll have some global standards. We probably don’t want to go down the boxing route, with different bodies continually giving out different world titles to different athletes.

Anyway, you can check out the full announcement on the WPA site; in addition to the international expansion, other updates for 2012 include more rankings, more races and more regions in the US.