The first stop of the US SUP Tour is set for Huntington Beach, California this weekend, April 12-14. Athletes such as Chuck Patterson, Mo Freitas and Colin McPhillips are expected to compete.
It’s the initial event of three in what will be the main qualifying series for athletes to get on the USA SUP team for the International Surfing Association (ISA) games.
The event is divided into Elite and Open categories in both the surf and race disciplines. The surf competition will be scored using a computer system with live scoring by certified Association of Surfing Professionals judges. Everyday SUP surfers and racers can enter the Open categories while the Elite level will feature some of America’s finest SUP athletes.
Surfing America (the ISA-sanctioned organization in the US) team manager Ian Cairns is spearheading the tour with his years of ASP and coaching experience. Cairns has enlisted World Paddle Association (WPA) director Byron Kurt to oversee the racing portion of the tour.
Cairns says the need for an organized tour is exactly what the sport of SUP needs at this point.
“The situation in SUPing right now is like the early-to-mid-70s in surfing,” Cairns says. “It wasn't until you had a legitimate tour where there's consistent events, consistent sponsorship that the companies grow bigger, the athletes sponsorship grows bigger and it grows the pie—and the sport—as a whole. It's all about having credible events.”
The tour will also help fund Team USA’s trip to the 2014 ISA Games (from which they were conspicuously absent this year due to budgetary issues); five dollars from each entry fee will go toward the Team’s travel fund.