What’s in a Name?
Standing and paddling has been around for thousands of years. From Africa to Fiji, from the Pacific North-West of North America to the rivers of inland India, it’s an ancient practice. When it morphed into a blend of what paddlers of outrigger canoes who also surfed, accredited to the Waikiki Beach Boys of Waikiki Beach Oahu, we had the genesis of an idea to run with, though it was at the time a novel ingenuity on the part of these first of type pioneers beginning in the late 50s. When the idea was reborn and hashed up during the mid 90s, not by pioneers as such, but more accurately revivalists of a type, it had to be said they were reviving the previous concept of combining a Malibu longboard with an outrigger paddle as had been done in the past. From here refinement of equipment and techniques evolved.
Aside of the revivalists and pioneering creditors who tend to make claim or were certainly given more kudos than entitled given the concept had been around for thousands of years prior, even before the Hawaiian Islands were populated, the nomenclature of Stand Up Paddleboarding has never really worked. So bad is it, the world relies upon the acronym of SUP, being as it’s too much of a mouthful to deal with conversationally.
To stand up, is in fact a verb intransitive and it assumes you are not in fact standing, but that you need to and as for paddleboarding, well this in fact a sport that already exists, practised using the hands to power a paddleboard, lying prone or up on the knees. The name was never thought out with much consideration and one wonders had it been named differently would this help explain it better? Given it was snatched up by wanna-be surfers and an industry intent on goose marching the sport in its entirety down the path of that of a branch of surfing, it’s not unreasonable to consider it is also a form of canoeing standing up; bio-mechanical speaking, where in fact board designs have at times taken on the shape and form of shallow canoes.
Indeed from an evolutionary stand point, if you take a purest approach and focus hard on how to go about creating the fastest, slickest, coolest race boards, most every time you conclude from a designers perspective, to begin with a canoe concept and morph this into variants which can be stood in and paddled in varying water states, without the blinkered idea that it must be board-like by definition (a ruling never universally agreed upon) you suddenly have a very different mind set and broader appeal to canoeists and kayakers – and a better, faster craft. All in all, you have to wonder if SUP for want of a better name, is failing to evolve on account of a surfing mindset as against that of the way in which a canoeist would indeed approach the evolutionary conundrum SUP has always faced.
Whilst we could debate the politics of governance by a canoeing or a surfing organisation, the reality remains the industry (the designers and brands – the true investors in the sport) should lead the way in close harmony with the demands of the end-users in the absence of any arbitrary will of an organisation who continue to miss the point; SUP has not yet figured out what it truly is. It’s yet to have its own governance as a stand alone sport, let alone be in a position to have an alliance or affiliation with the likes of a big brother – it’s all very ironic don’t you think?