Miles Masterson vents his frustration at the SUP apocalypse.
Miles Masterson vents his frustration as the stand up paddle boarding apocalypse sweeps his homebreak.
“SUPS… The Next Big Thing in Surfing… You gotta get one!” Bet you’ve heard that recently, right? Call me shallow, but as a devoted shortboarder I reckon screw ’em. Us poor regular surf folk already have to deal with ignorant kooks, wave hog longboarders, gormless bodyboarders, the odd useless goat boat and crippled kneelo… now we have to compete with these stand-up paddle goons too?
These hodads, for whom the only requirements are general fitness and basic pedestrian balance, seem poised to take over the world’s line-ups. Can you think of anything worse? I call it the ‘Stand Up Paddleboard Apocalypse’, or ‘Armaggedon of the One Armed Paddlers’. Either way, it could end the world of surfing as we know it. After all, this is a surfboard (term used loosely here) you can literally ride on a ripple. Turncoat surfers who buy paddleboards aside, the doomsday scenario is if the greater public discover the stand up paddling “work out” en mass, which is already happening. Most popular urban beaches are a nightmare as it is. No room to swing a rashvest. If the SUP elbows its way into the remaining gap, we could conceivably be overwhelmed by these graceless, throwback buffoons with their oversized spoons.
Anyone selling SUPs will be stoked of course, but not the rest of us normal surfers trying to avoid these potential super wave hogs. Even the longboarders are getting bummed. And unlike mal riders, who still require a basic understanding of line up dynamics and surf etiquette (even if these are mostly ignored), as well as rudimentary paddle out and take off skills, SUPs arguably require none, bar said ability to stand upright and dig, which any monkey can do. At most breaks with a decent channel, it’s therefore a cinch for Wilbur SUP pilot to wobble about, even if it’s pitching thick out the back. Just heave ho and you are out there. Before long SUPs could easily become a factor at most average surfbreaks, where surfers won’t even have to ever duckdive, or learn to respect the better surfers in the water, in order to get waves.
Predictably, stand up supporters have protested that the SUP is a good workout and a functional wave-riding machine, and promise that they will not be pigs in the water. But isn’t that what the post-revival longboarders all said, and now look at them on a mellow four foot day at your local. And whilst Robbie Naish can indeed ride an SUP at Pipe or Laird or Teehaupo, not everyone has those skill levels, let alone jock suburbanites with more money than sense.
Indeed, throw a couple of clueless or selfish iron man SUP riders – eggbeating into waves from far out the back – into the organised chaos of a good rush hour session and watch the tension mount. It wouldn’t take many, maybe three or four SUPs, calling everyone from sets, to completely transform the mellowest rotation and irk even the most chilled locals. What’s more, as these SUP scum will conveniently bypass any rites of passage to the ocean, they will of course have to be heckled by indignant regular surfers. As a result there will probably be fights – although maybe only for the most aggressive and surf rage afflicted. Think about it: would you really hurl abuse at some buff gym pratt looming above you in the water holding a massive carbon fibre paddle above your head?
Before long, in a far worse rendition of the longboard revival, SUPs could start to dominate sessions and it will be a case of beat ’em or join ’em – or drive somewhere else, where there will probably be more SUPS anyway, multiplying along the coast like foot rot in a shower. It’s a future too bleak to contemplate, although for places like Hawaii, it’s apparently already too late. In fact, if these SUP boards and their inept riders take over, it will do nothing but drag our sport back into prehistory. In my opinion, in terms of progressing surfing, the SUP arguably lies somewhere beneath your granny riding a lilo at Newquay. For that reason alone, I will never get a SUP.
Well, that and the fact that I can’t afford one.