Who should rule SUP: Surfers or canoeists?

June 16, 2017 | Surfing
SUP Racing: is a stand-up paddleboard a surfboard or a canoe | Photo: Reed/ISA

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world and, after the inclusion of surfing, is one step closer to becoming an Olympic sport.

Coincidently (or maybe not) the International Canoe Federation (ICF) has recently challenged the idea that the International Surfing Association (ISA) is the world governing body for the sport.

So, who should rule SUP: surfers or canoeists? The ISA has been running stand-up paddleboarding events and world championships for over a decade.

On the other, the ICF sustains that SUP is nothing more stand-up canoeing, so it should be included under the canoeing umbrella, an Olympic sport for 80 years.

Both organizations want to get SUP Racing into the Olympic Games, and they have now requested the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to decide over the governance of the water sport.

"Under the guidance of the ISA, both SUP Surfing and Racing disciplines have grown in popularity and professionalism. As a committed member of the Olympic Family, we believe CAS is the appropriate forum to have this case heard fairly," notes Fernando Aguerre, the president of ISA.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already tried to mediate the dispute, but the conversations led to nothing. Now, it's all in the hands of CAS. 

One thing is certain: surfers have shown much more commitment to the development of SUP than canoeists. The ISA and its member nations have already run dozens of events and hundreds of official SUP races in the past 20 years.

Finally, let's not forget that the roots of stand-up paddleboarding are deeply connected to Hawaii and the first surf lifesaving activities, in which the watercraft was more a surfboard than a canoe.

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