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Is Paddleboarding a Sport?


Paddleboarding has been a main leisure activity for a good few years, and the paddleboard industry have been trying to market SUP (stand up paddleboarding) as a serious sport. So, is paddleboarding an actual sport? In this blog we investigate into the possibilities of this question as well as study paddleboarding itself. Paddlers all around the world have be rushing to lakes, river and seas in their droves over the last decade, all trying to get into the SUP action. There has also been many associated activities with this new fad, including SUP yoga, SUP fishing and SUP boot camps!

The Early Days of SUP

Paddleboarding is still very much in its infancy, and while people are screaming from the rooftops that it is a valid competitive sport, you have to look at the level of competition and who is organizing the events. The World Paddle Association was only founded in 2010 and it is in its formative developing years, during its brief tenure it has been trying to guide SUP towards being a recognized sport.

Many things about SUP and sports status are still to be formalized, such as its alignment with serious global sports bodies. But competition does exist for paddleboarders and these early events are making headway in bringing SUP to a wider audience in water sports.

SUP Competitions

The early SUP competitions are usually two-day affairs and take place on lakes, seas and rivers. The first day of competition is usually a distance race which can be from 5 miles to as many as over 30 miles and can take up to 7 hours to complete. This can be a particularly grueling event; imagine just standing up that long, never mind about paddling a raft and staying out of the water. The sprints come on day two, typically SUP’s will race each other over a course 2 to 5 miles long. There will be turns as well as straight paddling on these courses, giving the paddlers the opportunity to show their technical skills. Watching these races is really exhilarating as so many paddlers are making contact with one another in an effort to gain water against the competitors.

SUP as a Leisure Activity

While SUP is still struggling to find its footing as a sport, there is no doubt that it is booming as a leisure activity. In 2012, over 1.5 million people all over the world tried paddleboarding, that number was up nearly 40% on the year before. Accurate figures for 2017 are a little difficult to ratify, but figures of new SUP enthusiasts are estimated to be between 9 and 15 million.

The biggest draw for people to come to SUP is that it is really accessible, SUP boards come in many shapes and sizes and compared to many recreational activities, the equipment is not that expensive. Perhaps the biggest plus is that anybody can enjoy SUP and a number of fun activities it offers.

What is one of the most surprising things about SUP for the novice is the amount of physical exertion it brings. Going out for an hour’s paddleboarding is a terrific workout, for muscles all over the body and not just the arms. Perhaps that is another attraction to SUP, you get a great workout session without even knowing it.

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