The stand up paddleboard racing season heats up in June, the busiest months on the sport’s racing calendar.
The 2014 GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado, is right around the corner, running June 5 & 8.
The event celebrates “the essence of mountain lifestyle,” for four days in a Rocky Mountain setting. Expect to see top competitors in kayaking, mountain biking, slackline, fishing, mountain climbing and paddleboarding. Each day concludes with concerts and parties, but every event is intense, serious competition in sports not generally ready for prime time.
Scheduled for June 6-8 is the Stand Up Challenger Series event in Bilbao, Spain, which is pure paddleboarding every splash of the way featuring sprints and long distance racing Saturday and Sunday.
On June 7, paddleboarding California style kicks off with the return of the Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race that honors the city’s claim to fame of having lifeguards at local beaches using paddleboards as part of their life-saving equipment since the 1920s.
There are also the London SUP Marathon on the River Thames on and the the Iowa Valley Resource Conservation & Development’s Great Iowa River Canoe & Kayak Race, both taking place June 14.
On June 15, paddleboarders will gather in northwest Oregon (in the tiny city of Gaston, population 637 in the 2010 census) for the 11th annual Hagg Lake Open Water Swim and SUP Races. The event includes a 2.4-mile ironman swimming competition and four and eight-mile SUP race events. After that, head back to Florida for The Sunshine SUP Series kayak and paddleboarding fishing tournament, which takes place June 21 in Pampano Beach.
June also includes the Payette River Games (in Cascade, Idaho June 20-22), which boast an eclectic array of traditional and modern, up and coming sports, including lumberjack events, bocce ball, beach volleyball, river surfing, horseshoes, fly casting and disc golf. The Sarasota SUP Series Race (in Siesta Key, Florida on June 21) is a race for paddleboard purists.
That said, information on a series of regional events in the southeast are available at the Southern Stoke Paddle Series Web site – just click on the link. This will take you to regional races taking place in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama.
Catch a flight back to Italy for the June 25thButterfly Effect race in Porto Pollo, Sardinia, Italy. Then head back to Atlanta, Georgia for the Get Stoked Race (June 28) that includes long distance skateboarding, open water swimming and paddleboarding.
You might ask, what happened? Enthusiast will tell you the sport has been around for a long time, but suddenly took off as one of the up and coming sports in the 21rst century.
Paddleboarding traces its roots to the Polynesian Islands, where boards have been used for surfing for as long as anyone can remember. An engraving by John Webber, the artist who accompanied Captain James Cook to The Sandwich Islands, includes a beach scene with a surfer in it that was done in 1781.
In modern times, surfing is associated with recreation in Hawaii and southern California, the lifestyle of surfers made famous by the Beach Boys and many other rock and roll artists. Remember the 1963 song Wipeout with the relentless drumming and the twangy guitar solo done by a group called the Surfaris?
While wave riding has been around, stand up paddleboard racing is not new, either. The first Santa Monica Pier races were held in 1934, making it one of the longest continuously running paddleboard events. In 1936, promoters of the event added the Catalina to Santa Monica relay race, which continues today.
Long distance racing is also a staple of paddaleboarding. If the 32-mile crossing of the Channel of Bones in Hawaii each year isn’t grueling enough (the ocean floor is 2,300 feet deep and waves often reach 30 feet high), there’s the 119-mile Cuba to Florida race each year. And there are similar long-distance competitions in Europe, as well.
Meanwhile, companies like Legends SUP (legendssup.com) are flourishing as the sport grows. It is a prime example of an Internet business being positioned well as the popularity of an activity increases, because it can serve communities around the world simultaneously, while a brick and mortar store takes time and money to put together, only to be limited to serving a local audience.
It might be odd to think of paddleboarding as a new sport, served well by the Internet, when it is really predates the Internet by a few centuries.
The racing season getting underway is new, but the use of boards for travel, fun and competition is a sleeper, just waking up from a long, long nap.