It's just not surfing

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

Amongst all modes of wave riding, Stand Up Paddleboarding - or SUPing - is the most recent to be popularised. It has a long history, of course, being first used by the Waikiki Beach Boys while teaching cashed up haoles how to surf in the first half of last century.

SUPing all but disappeared till the turn of the century when it was reinvigorated by a small cohort of Hawaiian revivalists. Since then it’s become so popular that, unofficially at least, SUPing is considered the fastest growing water sport. The rapid expansion has been noted by various organisations and has now caused a tug-of-war at the Olympic level.

At the heart of the matter is both the International Surfing Association (ISA) and the International Canoe Federation (ICF) claiming ancestry over SUP. Despite it’s beachside heritage, the ICF is arguing that the use of a paddle automatically makes SUP part of its organisation. They deem the correct name of the sport Stand Up Canoeing, which would change the name to SUCing and be given the nod of approval by some surfers.

The backdrop to the quarrel is SUPs seemingly inevitable rise to Olympic status. It was recently included in the 2018 Youth Olympics and pundits expect it to be elevated to the Olympics proper very shortly. When that happens the sport can expect a big revenue hit. Likewise the body that governs it. Cue the wrangle for dollars.

A quick read shows this to be a classic power struggle. For the last ten years the ISA has been expanding their reach, accrediting countries, many of them landlocked or with negligible surfing potential, to bolster their Olympic case. Many SUP events are flatwater races held in rivers far from the coast. Wave riding doesn’t come into it but the ISA opportunistically calls it ‘surfing’.

This inland incursion challenges the ICA in their traditional powerhouse countries. There’s also the matter that one style of canoeing - the C1, or sprint canoe - is very similar to SUPing and has been an Olympic sport since 1924.

While this story will barely affect most surfers it provides a cautionary tale as surfing proper - actual wave riding that is - becomes an Olympic plaything. At present the ISA is the surfing body recognised by the International Olympic Committee, however for surfing in the Olympics to work it needs the best surfers in the world. Read: Championship Tour surfers - and they’re all WSL athletes.

At present the ISA and WSL are co-operating, but as more money flows into surfing from government bodies and wagon-hopping sponsors the possibility for dust ups such as the above increases.

The current brawl between the ISA and ICF will be mediated in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


50young's picture
50young's picture
50young commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 11:43am

Give it to the ICF and ban the bastards from crowded surf breaks

Fleazool's picture
Fleazool's picture
Fleazool commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 12:06pm

SUCKing seems more appropriate

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 1:31pm

Beat me to it- Stand up canoeing and kayaking = SUCKing.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

the-camel's picture
the-camel's picture
the-camel commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 1:12pm

The ICA will be successful in getting SUP to the Olympics. The sooner this happens the better. The masses will buy into it and stampede surfbreaks on cutting-edge hi-tech equipment which makes SUP ridiculously light and manouverable. Professional surfing will get a taste of it's own medicine. Namely, exploit the bejesus out of something simple and beautiful for the sole purpose of making a name and/or a dollar out of it.

the War on Thrusting

ashleigh's picture
ashleigh's picture
ashleigh commented Wednesday, 21 Jun 2017 at 10:09am

Hit the nail right on the head there Camel. Greed driven exploitation is the bottom line with these monkeys. They just can't leave a good thing alone - surfing in general that is...

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 2:40pm

Don't think I've ever had a surf on the peninsula where sup's were a problem.

Obi wan's picture
Obi wan's picture
Obi wan commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 3:22pm

The real question is the format of the olympic event.. Will Suppers race? Flat water, rapids or surf? Or will they be judged as surfers would be? Air reverse into the flats for the gold medal. Or most likely, will they be set up on a point break, crowded along its length with manikins of all sizes on surfboards, with the winner of each heat being the one that hits the most manikins on their wave?

Java's picture
Java's picture
Java commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 3:33pm

Canoes Under New Terminology (s)

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 3:38pm

Nicely advanced , Java.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 4:18pm

Weird canoe, a goat boat is much closer to a canoe than a Sup.

Ada gula, ada semut!

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 4:30pm

@goofy, they have taken over a certain left on the edge of "the bay" and certain waves inside the bay are now rooted mostly coz of sups.

@obi wan, why not judging on how they are viewed in the general surfing community? How many short boarders and mals can they snake or put in peril by falling off in front on them or abuse directed towards them? And of course there will have to be age and weight categories like: balding fat old cardigan wearing bastard and morbidly obese fat bastard.

dr-surf's picture
dr-surf's picture
dr-surf commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 5:44pm

Looks like a Canoe, Moves like a Canoe and Smells like a Canoe. Yep definitely a Bloody Canoe.

Willow995's picture
Willow995's picture
Willow995 commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 5:56pm

Goofy its a real problem on the west coast, some points now you won't even bother surfing. And you know the problems bad when long boarders are complaining about not getting waves and surfing beachies.

The Left you mentioned GuySmiley my uncle took me out for the first time last year, he has been surfing down there for 40 odd years and even he mentioned its getting hard for an older guy to get into waves with them.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 6:29pm

They are not a problem on the back beachies as the odd mongrel set cleans them up beautifully, but just don't be behind one when it happens. I reckon they would be a scourge on non critical reef or point breaks as they can paddle into them from Stanley Tasmania. Yes like SUCing I am all for it. There must be something in it to attract people to however it looks bloody awkward and funless to me. I just don't get it and the most of those who I know do were never competent surfers.

Toppa's picture
Toppa's picture
Toppa commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 7:10pm

Obviously paddling along a nice calm estuary isn't surfing. I have been a kneelo for over 40yrs I've heard all the crip comments and sledges many times over. Now in my mid fifties I have discovered sup and love it. Down here on the surfcoast in Vic I surf my kneeboard over the autumn / winter months when the swell is up and sup in the smaller summer conditions. I try to find a spot away from the board riders as much as I can. The beauty of it for me, as my knees and back deteriorate as I get older, supping will keep me fit and active in the surf long after I put away my kneeboard and fins for the last time. My 10' sup definitely looks like a surfboard not a canoe!


goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 7:55pm

Guysmiley do you mean quarra? I've never seen one out there.. but that's not to say they're not there as I don't often surf it.
or western port bay? Because that's a c+#t of a joint anyway so they can have it

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Friday, 16 Jun 2017 at 9:14pm

love to see them at quarra only to see them get totally reamed by a set, no i mean the outer reef left, sharky, it can get real good there thou, hollow on its day but its common to see 6 plus sups out there now on any other day.

thatguy's picture
thatguy's picture
thatguy commented Saturday, 17 Jun 2017 at 8:46am

We've always referred to them as Gay Gondola's

adam12's picture
adam12's picture
adam12 commented Saturday, 17 Jun 2017 at 9:03am

Stu, bit confused.
In the first paragraph you seem to claim that stand up paddleboarding was part of the ancient sport and also invented by the revivalists. Which is it ?
I have never seen an image or reference from either. I've read that the ancient royals would get towed out by outriggers, and that the Outrigger Canoe Club and Hui Nalu used to compete in paddle contests (prone) in the early 20th C, but is there evidence of it's place in surfing prior to the current era?
I think I read somewhere Laird Hamilton called it the" ancient Hawaiian sport that never was".
Can someone nail down it's origins? Could be relevant as to whether it is SUP or SUC.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Saturday, 17 Jun 2017 at 9:12am

Nah, no mention of ancient Hawaiians in there. Far as I'm aware it was first done in the 1930 and 1940s ("first half of last century") by the Waikiki Beach Boys, then rediscovered by Laird and co. around 2001 ("the turn of the century').

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally commented Saturday, 17 Jun 2017 at 1:02pm

Gerry Lopez shaped one of Laird's very first SUPs. At that stage, Gerry wasn't SUPing himself. This is a good anecdote by Gerry from a conversation between him and Laird Hamilton.

"I have a story to tell you because I’ve always thought you were the guy that started standup paddling. I remember telling you over the years that when I was in high school, there used to be this guy [standup paddling] at Tongg’s. Last month I was in Hawaii for the big swell, I asked George about it. And he goes, ‘Oh yeah, Zap.’ So we went over to [John Zapotacky’s] house, right above Tongg’s, Hibiscus Drive, right where I used to see him surfing when I was 13, 14 years old. Sweet, sweet man. Ninety-one years old. He came to Hawaii in 1940 from Philadelphia. He was in the Navy, mechanical engineer. He went to Waikiki and saw the guys surfing, and he got out there but he wasn’t having a lot of success. Then one day he saw a Hawaiian guy catching waves standing up the whole time with a big paddle. He followed the guy in and said, ‘Tell me about this.’ Guy says, ‘Yeah, get a paddle, get a big board.’ That guy was Duke Kahanamoku."

sanded's picture
sanded's picture
sanded commented Saturday, 17 Jun 2017 at 10:56am

Yep Laird was the one which gave it acceptance, coming from a sailboard background a lot of windsurf guys jumped on it and added it as their "no wind sport" they found they had the balance (and used to holding onto the pole/Boom) and found it easier to do than surfing. Thats why you have brands like Naish, JP etc..
For me I couldn't understand it (plus I already surfed) couldn't get right in the critical parts of the wave and you were already getting yelled at when wavesailing about wrecking the waves, so these guys were a glutton for punishment also getting yelled at when there was no wind .

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird commented Sunday, 18 Jun 2017 at 12:35pm

Hawaiian meets haole (Anglo western culture)
Hawaiian culture
" Ali'i could prove their prowess by showing courage and skill in big waves, and woe betide the commoner who crossed into surf zones reserved for the ali' an incident in which a commoner dropped into the same wave as a Hawaiian chiefess, which was a major taboo. To save his own skin, he offered her his lehua wreath to placate her. "

Hawaiian society was distinctly stratified into royal and common classes, and these taboos extended into the surf zone. There were reefs and beaches where the ali'i (chiefs) surfed and reefs and beaches where the commoners surfed.

50 years of the haole (Anglo culture) after C.J.Cook arrived in Hawaii
"As the kapu system crumbled, so did surfing's ritual significance within Hawaiian culture. Now a commoner could drop in on a chiefess without fear for his life, or even giving up his lehua wreath."

" After 125 years of Hawaiian-European contact/ conquest, the haole (Anglo culture) had tried to exercise control over just about everything Hawaiian: their Gods, their culture, their magic, their land and their lives..... "

"Of the 40,000 Hawaiians that remained, a handful attempted to resist the 1893 illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy by a coalition of businessmen, plantation owners and missionaries, assisted by U.S. marines."

Source: The History of Surfing From Captain Cook to the Present; By Ben Marcus

Which culture do we want ?.. Hawaiian, "haoli" $... or an... Australian code....?


velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 18 Jun 2017 at 1:27pm

Well, the Australian code is the only one of those that features the ritual of tying grommets to street signs and poles with legropes, so that gets my vote.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Sunday, 18 Jun 2017 at 4:56pm

So you're advocating for a system that means you've got to clear the water when the equivalent of Prince Charles turns up ?

Actually , if you're referring to chiefs as separate from royalty , that means you've got to leave the line up when Tony Abbott turns up.

I really don't think so .

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Sunday, 18 Jun 2017 at 4:44pm

Happy pop up surf history day Kirra! (commemorative edition)

[WARNING!] Surf Pioneers Surfing with the Alien.(Fact from fictionional pro surfer version)

1829 Oz surfers built Surfcraft onsite, then were shackled to it. Surfed tide out rivermouths hooked onto incoming tide. Surfed the World Surf Reserve lineups latching onto southern sweep to ride waves back through river mouth further up coastline.
Failing to surf the shit out of their surfcraft.... they were whipped 500 x more.

All through 1800's these surfcraft were surfed just the once, then sold at end of surf session. These early (I won't say first)... pro surfers were paid insane money - eclipsing future pro surfing cousins.
To earn top dollar your surfcraft had to be surfed ashore in one piece... be prime species and DNA flawless,no shitty weedy knock offs . Easily the most valuable surfcraft of our times.
These early hellbent surfer's crafts were designed (uniquely) for Gold Coast silted sandbars and sand swept points.

Re :SUP...Red Cedar surfcraft needed OARS but only for shallow push off and steering.
The whole idea was to advantage fastest moving surf/sweep/tides. (Big surf but not choppy)
Hence the one central stringer leaving flexi rails to surf the wave face & whitewater as one.
Ponding or pooling was to be avoided as any sudden tide change would crush the Surfcraft.

During 1800's near whole society SUP'd from mountain side to Brisbane,even women folk.
Kids hopped from one to an other. Some held schools, some were laundries others accommodated. Some craft as long as your eye could see.
SUP's continued along Tweed River into the 1930's. Not Roads/Rail but Bridges ended Sup's.

Respect first Saltwater surfers..1864 Sport of Princes (Surfbathing/Bodybash'n) saw Gold Coasters rubbing shoulders with Islanders. Our oldest most respected sport is forever proudly amateur here. Come summertime easily Oz's fav' sport.

(fairplay/Letter to ed: 1/1/1927) Gold Coast local Surfer described Boardriders as" Grown up babies playing with their mother's ironing boards and should be restricted to their own playground".

90 years on basherz speak is similar to that we hear Boardriders yell to move on SUPS.
(Goes around comes around)

2016 The Boardriders Playground... Pro"Surfers" Command absolute beachfront surfrise block/shopping mall /Beauty salon/Gym/media cartons...Concierge/caddies busy fitting up Pro surfer's spacesuits.
Commentary: Dry hair launch with cemented feet leaving wave behind... Champ's head is in the clouds on inspector Gadget hoverboard. Sticker starts peeling off...Panic sets in... as Medi-drone lowers fishing hook snagging sticker from near razor edged rocks just as Mars rover retrieves dryzabone Pro "Surfer".
Sticker resticks ...crowd on edge as chariot rescues champ from very sticky sandy situation.

Waiting on Judges ruling.. Going Live...2 & 3.
Judge 1 Ply Deck- NO + Judge 2 Fibreglass Deck-NO + Judge 3 Sticker Deck - NO.
No contact with surf...that's a perfect round of surfing. Champ is off to the Olympics!

How many more cancer sticks can one blue planet chowder.
Tell professor to stick his flubber...It's just not Surfing.
Surf just share Surf.

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