Ready, set, Copenhagen! Gearing up for the 2024 ISA SUP & Paddleboard Championships

The countdown to the 2024 ISA SUP and Paddleboard Championship (16-22 September) in Copenhagen, Denmark starts now. Brought by Surf & SUP Danmark, one of the most active surf, SUP, prone paddleboarding and rafting federations in the world and an Olympic association, this tremendous event includes the ISA Worlds, the Copenhagen SUP race which is open to everyone and the Copenhagen Paddle Festival with side activities celebrating sport, music, culture and food on a massive scale in the heart of Copenhagen.

Setting things in motion, TotalSUP caught up with Michael Lindberg, Executive Director (CEO) at Surf & SUP Denmark, to talk about the preparations and highlights.

Hi Michael! The Danish Surf and SUP Federation has been notably active on the national and international SUP scene since 2017, hosting two significant international events and another one on the horizon. Could you elaborate on the global strategy behind these initiatives?

After hosting the ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in 2017 we experienced that hosting a major international event not only gives a lot back to the community and development of the sport on a national level, but by hosting major events we are also capable of pushing the development of the sport on a worldwide scale and set new standards for international SUP racing.

In 2017 we had 42 nations participating at the event in Denmark, but since then we’ve experienced a decrease in the number of nations participating. So in 2020 we applied Sport Event Denmark (a Danish event organization supported by the government) for financial support of an international event strategy aiming to host a Eurotour event in 2021, the ESF EuroSUP in 2022 and the ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in 2024. Our goal for the ISA event is 60+ nations. We know it’s very ambitious but we want to push the sport even further ahead.

The Danish Federation even underwent a rebranding a few years ago to incorporate SUP into its name. Could you provide more details on the motivation and impact of this decision on the organization’s mission and activities?

Back in 2013 we merged surfing, SUP and white water sport into one federation. It was a good combination due to the similar culture between the different sports. However, after almost 10 years with this constellation moving from a grassroot organization to a more professional and Olympic organization due to our major work with developing SUP and with surfing becoming an Olympic sport, we felt that it was the right time to reorganize our organization with a new name and a new strategy.

Everything we do in our federation is about surfing and SUP so it made sense to also include SUP in our name. No one should ever doubt who is the governing body for SUP in Denmark. Besides that we had also just introduced our new 8-year strategy: NEW WAVE 2021-2028. This strategy works with 12 different initiatives that includes everything from developing clubs, events, environmental projects and facilities to youth projects, education, elite sport, communication and international political involvement. We added a lot of short- and long-term goals and objectives that we are now working with.

With the ISA Worlds returning to Copenhagen in September, you’re organizing a new event called Copenhagen Paddle Festival. How will the 2024 event differ from the 2017 World Championships, and what exciting elements can participants and spectators expect?

First of all, in 2017 SUP was illegal in Copenhagen Harbour. So at that time we couldn’t paddle inside the canals of the harbour. We used the 2017 event to put pressure on the politicians and after a few years SUP became legal. So in September athletes and participants in the mass-participation event will paddle inside the canals which is an unforgettable experience and a really cool way of experiencing the city.

As part of the event we’re organizing a lot of side-event activities under the name “Copenhagen Paddle Festival”. You can participate in our mass-participation event; Copenhagen SUP, you can try SUP or SUP yoga for the first time, you can take part in our harbour and beach clean-ups, there will be social activities, exhibitions and cinema at the event venue, skate sessions and a lot of other stuff. Even kids at different ages will be invited to join our school program with a special focus on education in sustainability. The Copenhagen Paddle Festival is all about celebrating the community and culture of surfing and SUP.

It seems like there is a strong focus on establishing SUP racing into a spectator sport and creating a vibrant atmosphere for attendees. Can you share more information about what awaits participants in the fun race and what experiences are planned for non-participating attendees and festival-goers?

Yes, we’re definitely trying to engage spectators into the sport. For the elite sprint and long distance races, the race events will happen just in front of the spectators. So you will be able to watch all the action very closely. For the long distance we will have a loop course going around in the harbour making it possible to watch and cheer for the athletes more than one time. People who are participating in our mass participation event will paddle the same loop course as the elite athletes and we aim to have several “zones” with action, music and happenings along the course. Also in the evening on the day of the mass-participation event and long distance races we will have a special night, which I though can’t say more about 🙂

Could you reveal the full program of Copenhagen SUP, including any special events, competitions, or festivities that participants and visitors can look forward to?

We are still working on the full program, however we can reveal that we will have two distances in the Copenhagen SUP event. We call them the ‘fun explore’ and ‘pro explore’. The fun explore is just around 5K and the pro explore around 9K. As mentioned earlier, there will be a lot of entertainment throughout the week and we’re looking forward to revealing the full program soon.

Copenhagen in mid-September is the backdrop for the event. What makes the city attractive during this period, and are there additional attractions across Denmark for those planning an extended stay around the championship?

September is just on the other side of the most hectic tourist periods in Copenhagen which means that you will have a bit more space and not too crowded streets in the city. This gives you a really good opportunity to go to all the interesting spots in the city without the places being too busy. Furthermore the weather in September is usually vere tempered and not too hot. There is definitely also a lot of other attractions that you can go to if you want to extend the stay in Denmark. The country is fairly small so you can go to the other part of the country withing 3-4 hours by train or car.

For participants traveling from abroad, how accessible is the event, and what arrangements or suggestions do you have to facilitate their journey?

It’s very easy to get to Copenhagen. Many Europeans can go here by car or even public trains are well connected to Copenhagen from all over Europe. If you come by plane the airport is only 10K from the city centre and the metro takes you directly to the city in 10 minutes. When you are in Copenhagen I would though recommend to rent a bike to go around. Almost every Dane living in Copenhagen owns a bike and it’s such an easy way to going around in the city. There are even areas in the city where the bike lanes are bigger than the car lanes.

Lastly, will there be a board rental service available for participants of the ISA World Champs as well as for those participating in the Fun race?

We will definitely aim to have a board rental service but we don’t have the full plan ready for this yet. As soon as we have it ready we will announce it.

Anything that you would like to add?

We really hope to see a lot of great people in Denmark and we will do our best to give everyone an unforgettable experience.

Watch this space for:

> Official website launch on Tuesday, 5 March
> Early bird registrations for the Copenhagen SUP (mass-participation race) kicking off on Tuesday, 12 March

To find out more about Surf & SUP Danmark, visit
Follow on Facebook, Instagram and Vimeo

About the Author

Mathieu Astier

Mathieu is the hyper-active founder of TotalSUP and a multilingual online marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience working for top international internet companies. His love-at-first-sight for Stand Up Paddling in 2013 led him to build one of the leading online media dedicated to SUP in English and French and to turn his family lifestyle towards the ocean.

To follow Mathieu: