April 27, 2014

SUP Videos

There are a lot of SUP videos that I find myself going back and watching over and over. Rather than having a favorites list in my browser, I thought that others might like them as well. I've attached one of my favorites to this post, but check out the new SUP Videos tab above for a list that is broken down by equipment, technique, movies & documentaries, and other cool SUP videos.

If you have some favorite videos that should be on the list, feel free to comment below and I'll add them ASAP.

April 15, 2014

The Best SUP Race EVER!

This isn't a race that I've actually attended or one that I've necessarily read about, but it would be the ideal race for me and my family. First, a bit about my perspective.... I'm definitely not an elite  racer by any stretch of the imagination, although I do have several friends that are, and I'm envious of their abilities and the hard work that they put in.  I am a competitive person by nature, but my realm is more the 3 mile rec race. I love the SUP races in our area, but for me it's more about hanging out with friends and family, other people that are passionate about SUP, and just the overall experience.

I've probably participated in around 10 races over the past couple of years and am planning on doing several more this summer. The events that I've participated in range from small/free "fun races", to full on weekend events.  Although most events are great, some of them could do a few things differently that would make them more enjoyable for people like me and my family.  The list below are some things that I feel would make for the ideal race:
  • Create an online presence for your race for people to get information... a Facebook page works great for this sort of thing if you don't want the hassle or expense of setting up a website.
  • Online registration is by far the easiest way to sign up for a race... look into using services such as Active.com.  If all races in the Midwest series used the same registration site, participants could get discounts for registering for several events.
  • Make sure it's well known if there are series points for each race... there seems to be some confusion when it comes to rec races if there are points or not for some races.
  • Packet pickup available the night before the race... nothing worse than chaos at the registration desk the morning of the race.
  • Some sort of event the night before is a great idea... can be as simple as a designated meeting place at a local establishment after packet pick-up or as awesome as a meet and greet and/or race clinic with a professional SUP athlete.
  • Schwag Bags... who doesn't like a well stocked bag of SUP goodies?  Be sure to include something more than stickers though...nice t-shirt or a custom water bottle are two things that come to mind
  • Race directors should not have a long list of things to be responsible for... they are essentially responsible for everything and are very busy.  Others should be in charge of things like registration, setting up the course, safety, food service, etc.
  • To answer the question..."No, we can not hear you"... when having the race meeting, please use some sort of microphone.  Even if the wind and waves are light, your voice just doesn't carry well in a beach environment.
  • Have the Rec Race first... the wind and waves are usually lightest earlier in the day, making it much easier for those participating in the rec race that may not be as experienced as the elite crew.
  • If you have a long distance or downwind race, have it in the afternoon... Most people (with the possible exception of one friend who loves paddling upwind), would much rather paddle long distances with a good afternoon wind at their back.  
  • Be flexible with the course... have a few options ready to go so you can adjust based on the weather. If there is a downwinder, but the wind is the opposite direction, please change the course.
  • Run the course on a jet ski or small boat... eliminate any confusion by allowing everyone to see the course run prior to racing.
  • Make sure there is enough room at the start... don't cram 200 people on a 100' beach and expect there to not be issues.  Stagger the start for different divisions if necessary.
  • Make sure shuttles are actually available... if there is a race from point A to point B, have plenty of shuttles available to transport the participants in a timely manner.
  • Enforce the board specifications... if the rec race is for 12'2 and under, make sure it is enforced. Even though it's "just the rec race", it's awesome when you finish 4th and somebody with a 14' race board walks by with your tiny trophy and prizes... no, I'm not bitter.  :)
  • Have a fun course... having a course that's more buoy turns and is in front of the spectators is more fun for those racing as well as those family/friends watching from the beach and/or pier.
  • Music... make it a party-like atmosphere by pumping some beach tunes
  • Make sure everyone knows what's going on... have an announcer dropping SUP knowledge and race specifics on the spectators.
  • Food, must have food... lunch or dinner option is a must if the race is an event as apposed to just a show up/race/go home type deal.  Also, have food options available for friends and family that are there to support the race for a small price.
  • Lots of friendly volunteers... these individuals are much appreciated, even if they don't get the praise they deserve.
  • Plenty of vendors... everyone likes to see what's new and kids love things like free stickers and sunscreen.
  • SUP clinics... at some point during or between races, have some short SUP clinics and give spectators a chance to try some boards.  Also, it would be awesome to have a "race clinic" put on by some of the pros or local sponsored athletes prior to the event.
  • Kids races... lets get the next generation involved and have a free race for kids and give them lots of prizes!
With all of the above being said, I want to let you know that I have never had a bad time at any race I've attended and I appreciate all of the effort that the race directors, countless volunteers, and sponsors do to put on a SUP race.  If any races can take a point or two and incorporate them into their event...great.  If they don't, I'm sure I'll have a blast anyway.  As with most things, the most important thing for me is just hanging out with friends, family, and other SUP addicts and spending time on the water.