Video: Kelly Slater SUPs
It’s no secret that conventional surfers generally disapprove of standup paddlers in the lineup. But, nine times out of 10, such hatred stems from a lack of familiarity. A distaste for something different. In essence, a fear of the unknown.
But every time a reputable surfer paddles out standing up, that fear abates. As we round into a new generation with a new train of thought, a movement toward “ride everything,” where the stale, stickler’s “shortboard only” argument grows obsolete in the unbashful recognition of the one timeless truth in surfing, “the best surfer is the one having the most fun,” SUP further proves its place in the lineup. Every time one strokes seamlessly into a wave that even the best shortboard groveler couldn’t catch, or paddles comfortably into a bomb that would require a tow-in for any other style of surfer, SUP slowly but steadily stifles the naysayers. And the surf community at large, or at least the largest in the surf community, is taking note.
Enter Kelly Slater, 11x world champion of surfing and the undisputed king of wave riding. Never mind the twisted humor in his April fools retirement announcement, or his uncanny ability to lead the charge in progressive surfing at the ripe age of 43. For now, we focus on his acknowledgement of that one timeless truth in surfing—the best surfer is the one having the most fun. No footage validates that maxim more than the one you’re about to click on. Footage that proves the best surfer in the world does indeed SUP. And he does so in the lineup of a WSL World Tour competition.
So next time you paddle out to stand among the squatters, do so humbly, but with your head high. Do so with etiquette, and allow others to catch their share. And do so knowing, if the king of surfing happens to be in the lineup, he’ll likely lend a smile and a nod, and may even compliment you on your equipment.
See more support for SUP from the elite surfing community.
The best athlete in surfing embraces SUP, and so does the best place in surfing.