Rob Casey is the owner of SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle, co-founder for the PSUPA and is the author of two paddling guides.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How to Start a Simple SUP Race - 12 Tips

Wanna build SUP community or your SUP business?  

Doing weekly SUP races can really help.  12 few tips:

Consistency. 
Keep them on one evening (or weekend morning) throughout your season (or year).

Location.
Consider doing the race in a popular area. The more people that see it will want to get involved. A friend does a race by a boardwalk. Folk have actually seen it, took a quicky lesson then did the race and became regulars.  At the same time our local beach has access issues, so we minimalize our time on the beach having racers enter the water immediately then paddle to our starting line offshore.

Keep Simple.
Races can get complicated, so keep simple.  We do a Monday evening summer race, no prizes, small fee which goes to charity, one heat but if there's enough 12-6's or surf style boards we'll separate them into their own category (but same heat).

Affordable. 
Make it free or super affordable. Ours is $5, proceeds go to charity via our local Elks Lodge.  We made $600 last year.

Get Legal.
Make sure your racers sign liability waivers.

Be Safe. 
To keep incidents to a minimium or not at all, require PFDs, leashes, proper clothing for the water temp, and a safety talk before the race to make sure everyone knows of any hazards on the course.  We keep ours out of boating areas.  If ours goes on open water, I'll post a safety board/boater to help anyone in need. Be in radio/cell contact with that person and make sure they actually can rescue a person.

Be Creative.
Add buoy (or other safe obstruction) turns, change the course weekly, add an obstacle course.

Open to All.
Allow all skill levels to compete. We have sponsored pro racers and folks who learned to stand up the week prior.  Everyone supports each other.  The pro guys cheers on the beginners as the cross the line.

Sponsors.
Find a community group or company to sponsor the race.  The Elks provide our racers with free parking, and allow us to come up after for drinks/food.  A product sponsor could donate schwag for prizes.

Forms.
Create simple forms to track racer info: Name, paid, waiver?, board length, time.

Timing.
Use your phone stopwatch or a manual stop watch. Write down times as racers cross the finish line.  Some use WebScorer.

Document the Race
Shoot video and/or stills of the race start, finishes, and after shots of racers celebrating.  Use these for your social media and to send to racers.  

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