Surfing America recently announced its team to compete in the International Surfing Association's (ISA) 2012 Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard World Championships, Feb. 20-25 in Miraflores (Lima, Peru). It’s the first event of its kind pitting individual standup athletes together into a team event, much like the Davis Cup in tennis or golf’s Ryder Cup. The announcement comes on the heels of Team Australia's release it would take a power-packed team led by 10-time traditional paddleboard world champ Jamie Mitchell.
The SUP World Championships encompasses long-distance racing, Battle of the Paddle-style races and surfing competitions as well as traditional paddleboard races to crown a team world champion. Each event will feature separate athletes and the points won during each event will go toward overall placing. Boards in all race divisions will be 12'6". The event will conclude with a team relay (two men, two women). The athletes participating in the relay will be selected by coaches based on their results from the event.
U.S. representatives include Colin McPhillips and Sean Poynter (Surf), Danny Ching and Matt Becker (Elite Race), Rob Rojas (Distance, Ching will race Distance too) and Shane Skoggins (Traditional Prone Paddleboard, Rojas will also race in this division). Emmy Merrill will anchor the women's team in surfing. Brandi Baksic will race Distance and Elite while Gillian Gibree will compete in the traditional paddleboard division.
Under ISA guidelines, Hawaii acts as a sovereign nation and represents with its own athletes. Expect a stacked team from that squad headed by Ranos Hayes.
On the coaching side, the US will be represented by Ian Cairns (Surf) and Jimmy Terrell (Race). According to Surfing America's Executive Director Greg Cruse, as the event site and details were secured only recently, the race team was selected based on the athlete's finishes at the Battle of the Paddle Hawaii and California, and the Standup World Tour rankings were used for selection on the surf side in lieu of a formal team trial.
The ISA has worked to make surfing an Olympic sport and has also been enthusiastic about representing standup if it were to become eligible. The other entity showing interest in bringing standup into the Olympic fold is USA Canoe/Kayak (USACK) which staged an Olympic exhibition event last year at its training center in San Diego.
The SUP World Championships are the ISA's chance to showcase its Olympic viability with an international field of athletes expected to represent. And Peru is a worthy location with beautiful racing venues (click below) based out of La Pamilla/Playa Waikiki and some of the longest left-hand point breaks in the world. "We're excited to crown a nation as a World Champion in standup," says the ISA's Director General Bob Mignogna. "And we're going to sound the horn (that the ISA should represent standup for Olympic inclusion)." –Joe Carberry
Editor’s Note: According to race coach Jim Terrell, after this article went live, Jay Wild replaced Danny Ching on Team USA.