The Lifetime Achievement Award | SUP’s Defacto Hall of Fame
The Highest Honor in SUP—Recipients of the SUP Awards Lifetime Achievement Title
Standup paddling, as a competitive sport, isn’t very old. The vast majority of its pioneers are still alive, well and surprisingly accessible. You can easily approach them on the beach during an event or out in the water when the surf’s on. And, for us, that's part of the beauty in delivering them this endearment. They're not only grateful, but humbled and genuinely honored.
For that reason, we take special pride each year as we decide, and present, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the SUP Awards in San Clemente, California. The acknowledgment serves as an ode to greatness that distinguishes the sport's most influential luminaries; essentially elevating their sagas into a league equivalent to SUP’s Hall of Fame. Essentially, we get to tell their stories, and spotlight their contributions to the continued growth and positive proliferation of standup paddling as it is today.
It's hard to believe the SUP Awards is five years old this year. So from Sparky to Gerry, Laird to Mickey, we're taking a minute to look back at our past picks for the SUP magazine Lifetime Achievement Award. Introducing: the first four legends of SUP Hall of Fame.
The Battle of the Paddle was an iconic event and essentially became the unofficial World Championship for standup paddling. It set the standard for board lengths for both manufacturing and future events. The race went down every fall in Dana Point for nearly a decade thanks to support from Sparky and his tribe at Rainbow Sandals. Longley, a longtime San Clemente resident, who learned to paddle when SUP was just starting to show up on the mainland, harkened those simple roots and the sport's larger family during his acceptance speech. "Everybody can standup paddle in three minutes," Longley said. "That's why people love it, and that's why we do it—for the fun of it." A truer phrase was never uttered.
There’s no denying the aura of Gerry Lopez. On the North Shore of Hawaii, he defined the world's scariest surf break in the most casual style imaginable. The same way the Bend, Oregon resident made moving to the mountains cool, and the same way he started paddling, unassuming, lending his name and passion to the fledgling sport at a time when it wasn't all that cool to do so. "This is what surfing used to be like," he told the capacity crowd in 2012. "We all had fun, shared waves, smiled. Joe (Carberry)'s office is in the same office as SURFING and SURFER. Being the editor of SUP magazine must be like being the ugly step child. But if Joe likes to believe that I'm truly representative of a surfer that also happens to love SUP, and by recognizing me it might maybe alter the perception that SUP as anti-surfing, and maybe even sway the thinking towards the fact that standup is just another style of surfing, then I'm all for it."
"My lifetime achievement is sitting right over there at that table," said Laird Hamilton at the end of his acceptance speech in 2013. Poignant words for many in the audience. Hamilton has done some pretty important things in watersports—he pioneered and helped popularize tow surfing, starred in Hollywood movies (as a surfer), become a health icon, and invented the modern form of standup paddling. But all those feats pale in comparison with being a father, husband and a good person. And that’s easy to get on board with.
Undoubtedly, Mickey Muñoz's most important contribution to paddling was a tandem surfboard he designed before anyone ever thought to manufacture standup boards. Most of the sport's early icons first used that model to learn to paddle. So, if we're getting technical, Munoz's design was in fact the first manufactured SUP. And he was one of the first to start paddling the board himself, and gladly leant his name and enthusiasm to the sport with his Mongoose Cup, an annual event each spring in Dana Point. The best part of Muñoz’s rowdy 2014 acceptance speech had to be the deep belly yelp he let out in celebration of the night as he walked on stage, proving again that there is no bigger night in paddling than the SUP Awards!
Watch Mickey Muñoz accept his Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 SUP Awards.