As the 2023 ICF SUP World Championship is about to kick-off, I want to take a moment to publicly send my deep thanks to Starboard for sponsoring our TotalSUP trip to Thailand which has taken my family and I to magical places like Khao Lak, Khao Sok and Kho Pha Ngan over the past two weeks before heading to Pattaya for the last huge international SUP Race event of the year.
What you may not be aware of, and what brings me great joy to unveil today, is that the story of TotalSUP started precisely here in Pattaya, Thailand with Starboard exactly 10 years ago. In February 2013, on my wife and I’s second vacation trip to Thailand I met someone in the waiting lounge at the airport whom I knew to be a friend of a friend, who was regularly travelling between Barcelona, where we used to live, and Bangkok. His name is Mathieu Rauzier and he was the head of design at Starboard SUP. Mat was basically behind the design and innovation of most SUP race and iSUP boards between 2012 and 2019, and if you have one of them, you’re likely to find his signature on the bottom of your board.
Of course at the time, I had no idea what this job title meant, since I had little watersport culture then, let alone any knowledge of stand up paddling.
Mathieu Astier (before Mr TotalSUP) with Mat Rauzier
Upon boarding, I found my seat’s movie screen was broken, and Mathieu Rauzier had a free seat next to him. He kindly offered me the spot, and as we spent the whole flight together, something clicked and we became best friends immediately. With no specific travel plans (arguably the best way to enjoy Thailand, by the way), Mat invited Nancy and me to his flat in Pattaya, right next to Starboard’s CEO, Svein Rasmussen’s house. After a two-day stay in Bangkok, we headed to Mat and his wife Yoyo’s place in Pattaya. Shortly after our arrival, Mat grabbed an all-round board from Svein’s backyard, and in February 2013, in Pattaya, I stepped onto a stand-up paddleboard for the very first time – where and when my life changed forever and for the better.
My love for SUP was ignited and the seeds for TotalSUP – an online media around Stand Up Paddling – were sown then, thanks to someone who is now like a brother to me, on a Starboard, right in front of the house of the CEO of one the biggest SUP brands in the world.
Befriending Mat Rauzier unintentionally meant that I entered the world of Stand Up Paddling through the main entrance. Six months later, being invited to Mat and Yoyo’s wedding as one of his best men resulted in a new Thailand vacation and in encounters with the world’s finest athletes and top product managers, within an invigorating international work-hard, play-hard environment.
The unwavering commitment, creativity, dedication, passion, and the blend of laughter and fun exhibited by everyone at Starboard fueled my desire to become part of this Stand Up Paddle world in one way or another.
1st encounter with Connor Baxter and Bart de Zwart in November 2013
A few weeks later, precisely a decade ago, I launched TotalSUP.com driven by a curiosity about all things related to stand-up paddling. Starboard served as my primary gateway to the world of SUP, to the point that, in the inaugural year, many mistakenly perceived it as a disguised Starboard publication.
Interviewing Mat Rauzier on the new gear at Starboard 2015 Distribution Meeting
With Connor Baxter at the 2015 APP World Tour stop in Barcelona
Since then, SUP has not only changed my life but is has shaped it, opened numerous opportunities, triggered incredible trips, adventures, experiences, human connections, and enduring friendships – many of which are with former or current Starboard staff or athletes.
Living the Tiki life with the Tiki family in 2015
APP World Tour 2019 Long Beach with Zane Schweitzer
Starboard was also the very first supporting brands of what is now a large and diverse portfolio of advertising brands and events for TotalSUP. My family, social and economic life now orbits entirely around the Stand Up Paddle world.
This week, I am returning to Pattaya, where it all began, a decade after that initial foray into stand-up paddling and precisely ten years after the inception of TotalSUP. As the founder of a now world-leading website, Facebook and Instagram community and a recognized commentator for the ICF World Championships for the third consecutive time, I extend a heartfelt KAPUN KHAP (ed. “Thank you” in thai) to Mat Rauzier, Svein Rasmussen and Starboard for sparking my love for stand up paddling and the flame of TotalSUP.
Here’s to many more years of fruitful collaboration.
Morning training in Barcelona, 2016
San Diego Starboard Distribution meeting, 2018
Start them young! Tom Astier-Dol, 1 year old, 2015
Who got the 1st iSUP race by Starboard? Me baby meeee!
With Mat Rauzier and Caren Forbes (former head of marketing at Starboard)
Nancy and Mathieu in Thailand, 2013
With Pascal Pouget, Starboard Team Manager France in the 2010s – Barcelona, 2016
Once a SUP racer, always a SUP racer… 1st hard SUP race board: Starboard All Star 2015
1st wave on an iSUP in 2014
Martin Astier-Dol, 7 + Lynn Rauzier 6, Thailand, 2023
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