SUP’s Top News Stories of 2016

In our top news story from 2016, South African Chris Bertish launches off the coast of Morocco and into the history books with his attempt at the first-ever transatlantic SUP crossing. Photo courtesy of Chris Bertish

In our top news story from 2016, South African Chris Bertish launches off the coast of Morocco and into the history books with his attempt at the first-ever transatlantic SUP crossing. Photo courtesy of Chris Bertish

SUP’s Top News Stories of 2016

At SUP magazine, we keep our finger on the pulse of standup paddling 24/7, 365 days a year. We prowl the internet cosmos, scan obscure print rags and seek out word-of-mouth insight to find and share any and all SUP-related news. We break critical stories and act as the sport’s lead newscasters, and as such, we accumulate a ton of great (and not so great) news on our radars over the course of a year, from releases in revolutionary technology to the completion of unprecedented feats by our community members. Here we present our boiled-down selection of top stories from 2016.

Chris Bertish Launches Attempt at First-Ever Transatlantic SUP Crossing. On December 6, South African big-wave surfer and paddler Chris Bertish launched his $100,000 custom SUP from the coast of Morocco. Destination: Florida. It’s the second attempt man has ever made to standup paddle across the Atlantic (the first attempt failed after one day at sea), and it’s the first attempt with what we believe to be a viable shot at succeeding. Within two weeks of his departure, Bertish’s Atlantic SUP crossing (aka #TheSUPCrossing) broke 300 miles and the world-record for longest distance ever paddled in the open ocean. He’s still got some way to go (like, just shy of 4,000 miles…), but he’s making progress. You can follow Bertish’s mission in real-time using the live tracker on his website.

SIC Releases Game-Changing New Rudder Technology. It’s been a heck of a year for technological advancement in SUP. From Pau Hana’s new ding-proof ricochet board technology to the hydrofoil SUP to the world’s first natural rubber wetsuit created by Patagonia, we made some seriously innovative strides this year. Chief among them' and an innovation worthy enough in our eyes to constitute top news of the year, is SIC’s new Foot Actuated Steering Technology (FAST) rudder system. We believe it’s the prototype for a steering revolution in downwind technology, and all it takes is one gusty run to find out why. Look for this system to become a staple in the advanced downwinder’s quiver.

Atlantic SUPer Girls Make History with East Coast Expedition. This successful late-summer expedition by Julieta "Jules" Gismondi and LouAnne Harris spanned 1,500 miles and 125 days from New York City to Miami, earning the duo recognition for Top Expedition at the 2016 SUP Awards. It was one of a number of outstanding SUP expeditions this year, including Operation Phoenix—US Army veteran Josh Collins’ philanthropic mission from Texas to the Statue of Liberty—and the Stand on the Rio Grande—purportedly the first-ever self-supported SUP assent through Big Bend National Park down Texas’ Rio Grande. But with their youth, international media coverage and the example they set for their peers, the SUPer girls took the cake.

Full Results from the 2016 SUP Awards presented by Tommy Bahama. The SUP Awards are the award show in standup paddling, the night where our community and its superstars are acknowledged among their peers and where incredible feats can be officially accredited. This year’s list of SUP Award winners—from Kai Lenny’s record breaking M2O performance to the Atlantic SUPer Girls’ Top Expedition—is as newsworthy as stories come, if not because it involves one of the sport’s greatest events, because it involves the sport’s greatest athletes and accomplishments.

Spate of SUP Deaths Mars 2016. While our sport generally does a great job of living on the sunny side, sometimes the news can be grim. 2016 was an unprecedented year for SUP accidents. This year alone, we reported a tragic total of seven SUP-related deaths across the US, including this report of four deaths in one weekend. Most of these accidents involved a lack of safety precautions—missing leashes, missing PFDs, missing float plans, missing cold-water equipment—and most may have been avoidable. It prompts a sullen focus on safety, which SUP magazine makes a point to cover thoroughly, and countless lessons for the rest of our community to learn. Let’s do what we can as a community to keep the death toll to zero in the year to come.

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SUP’s Top Trends of 2016