Double Triumph: Andrey Kraytor and Union Paddlers Conquer the SUP World

Andrey Kraytor, 2 x Sprint Canoe world champion, continues to stir things up in the Stand Up Paddling world both as an athlete and as the manager for the thriving venture Union Paddlers. Not only did Kraytor secure a bronze medal at the last ICF SUP World Championships in the 200m sprints, but he also managed the entire board rental service during the event, showcasing his dedication to both competition and community. This year, Union Paddlers introduces exciting novelties, including new board brands and models, a comprehensive Eurotour service, and a groundbreaking 12-month board rental option. As a major partner of the ICF SUP circuit, all the way to the ICF SUP Worlds in Sarasota, Florida, Union Paddlers and Andrey Kraytor have another busy year ahead of them!

Hello Andrey! First of all, I’d like to congratulate you once again on your 3rd place in the 200m sprints at the ICF SUP Worlds in Thailand back in November. If I remember correctly, you had the fastest time going into the final and were in 1st position until Noic Garioud and Connor Baxter managed to grab the 1st and 2nd places in the last 30 meters. How did it feel to be on the podium of a main event of the ICF SUP Worlds?

Thank you for your kind words and congratulations. It was indeed a thrilling experience to secure the third place at the ICF World Championship 2023 in Thailand last November. Returning to the podium at an ICF World Championship event meant a great deal to me, especially after transitioning from my canoeing career, knee surgery, long recovery, and now on a stand-up paddleboard. 

It felt like a significant milestone in my second sporting life, from being a KOOK at the 2017 ISA World Championships to standing on the World Championship podium after those 2 legends living in the ocean basically, and here me from the small village of Vilshanka, in the center of Ukraine.

If you were to watch the video of the final race and witness my emotions at the finish line, you would see the sheer joy and satisfaction I felt, akin to winning the race. While officially finishing third was a public victory, the real triumph lay in the personal path, personal win and challenges I overcame to reach that podium. Behind the scenes, over the past five years, I have been diligently balancing my training regimen with coaching the China and Indonesia national teams currently, running the rental service, and aiming to success in all aspects has been immensely gratifying.

Although posting the fastest time in the preliminaries boosted my confidence, I enjoyed that days, those seconds, their time when I alive, the final standings ultimately reflect each athlete’s performance on the finish line. As Noic aptly stated after his victory in Balaton 2021, “it’s not about what you deserved, it’s about what you got.” Each of us has our own unique journey and story to tell, and for me, this podium finish symbolizes a personal triumph, symbolises my own mission to motivated , to inspired and shows that it’s possible.

As for the last 30 meters of the race, it boils down to sheer determination and years of training. While my background in canoe sprinting equipped me with the speed and power required for shorter races (circa 39 seconds), I have been steadily building my capacity for speed endurance in stand-up paddleboarding, so I’m already closer to legends.

In essence, securing a podium finish at the 2023 ICF SUP World Championship was not just about the result; it was about the journey, the challenges overcome, and the continuous pursuit of improvement. Thank you once again for your support and encouragement.

… and all of that happened while you were handling board rental logistics for 150 SUP racers, with Union Paddlers. How is that possible?

I simply accepted it as a challenge and embraced it as part of my routine. While it wasn’t easy and certainly posed its own set of challenges, I found a way to make it work. Having a supportive team around me was instrumental in managing the logistics of handling board rentals for 150 SUP racers with Union Paddlers/Sports Camps.

I actually think your board rental service was a key ingredient in the success of the 2023 ICF SUP World Championships, allowing more than 15% of the 900 participants to fly from all over the world and travel light. How did it work out for you and Union Paddlers?

That was indeed our goal and mission: to provide accessible equipment for people from all corners of the globe. Drawing from the legacy of our sister company Sports Camps in the canoe world, Union Paddlers was founded with the vision of expanding accessibility in sports. Our collaboration with athletes and partners like Starboard, NSP, and Sunova has been instrumental in realizing this vision. Together, we’ve been able to serve participants from Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Canada, and beyond.

I firmly believe that our board rental service has been a game-changer for our sport, facilitating participation and growth on a global scale. I’d like to extend my gratitude to Mr. Svein and the entire Starboard team, Sander from NSP, and Martin and his team at SUNOVA for their unwavering support and dedication. It’s through these collaborative efforts that we’ve been able to serve our community and make a significant impact.

We interviewed you just a year ago when Union Paddlers was just starting on the SUP scene – after years in business in the kayak world. What has evolved at Union Paddlers since last year?

Since our last interview, Union Paddlers has experienced significant growth and evolution. One of the most notable developments has been the expansion of our fleet in response to the requests and needs of our growing community. We’ve worked tirelessly to ensure that we can offer a diverse range of boards to meet the preferences and requirements of paddlers of all levels. Additionally, we’ve continued to refine our services and operations, streamlining processes to provide an even smoother and more efficient experience for our customers. Overall, it’s been an exciting journey of growth and progress, and we’re committed to continuing to innovate and evolve to better serve our community.

In response to the changes in demand and market dynamics, we’ve made some strategic shifts at Union Paddlers. While camps were a priority last winter, we’ve observed a decrease in demand despite offering excellent locations, facilities, and gear in Turkey. As a result, we’ve decided to pivot away from camps and focus more on other aspects of our service.

One significant change has been our expansion to include new brands of boards in our fleet. Alongside our longstanding partnership with Starboard, we’ve also teamed up with NSP since the last world event and added Sunova boards to our offerings. This diversification allows us to cater to a broader range of preferences and provide more options to our paddlers.

Despite these changes, my passion for coaching SUP remains strong. While we may have shifted away from in-person camps, I’m excited to announce that I’ve started offering online training programs. If you’re interested in taking your paddling to the next level, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

These adjustments reflect our commitment to staying agile and responsive to the evolving needs of our community while continuing to provide top-notch service and support.

Can you detail the new Euro Tour service you’re putting in place this year?

Our new Euro Tour service this year is designed to offer convenience and affordability for athletes participating in multiple events. For a flat fee of 1000€, athletes can have equipment on the entire Euro Tour, ensuring seamless participation across all events.

Alternatively, athletes have the option to register for single events at a rate of 200€ per event. This flexible pricing structure aims to accommodate varying needs and budgets, providing an accessible pathway for athletes to engage in the Euro Tour experience.

You’re going to be present at all ICF SUP World Ranking events too right, all the way to the 2024 ICF SUP Worlds in Sarasota, correct?

Yes, that’s correct! We’re proud to confirm our presence at all ICF SUP World Ranking events leading up to the 2024 ICF SUP Worlds in Sarasota. As the official rental service for all ICF events, we’re committed to providing top-notch equipment and support to athletes throughout the competition season. Looking forward to seeing you at the upcoming events! You can book your board at  or

I’ve just found out you also have a non event-related 12-month rental package. How does that work?

Yes, indeed, our 12-month/1200€ rental package offers flexibility and affordability, making it ideal for athletes, clubs, and juniors who may not have the means to purchase new boards every season. With this option, the community can access new boards and pay for them in manageable installments. It’s been a great success working with Stelios Moustakalis and the A.T.E.O.S. Club in Thessaloniki, Greece. Notably, Rea Logotheti, the recent sprint junior world champion, and many other talented individuals have benefited from this arrangement. It’s rewarding to support the growth and development of athletes and clubs in this way. With this long-term you also get a discount for event rentals.

I have to say the Union Paddlers website is pretty straightforward to use. Can you detail the whole process for a potential customer? Is this the only way to make a reservation?

Thank you for your feedback, and I’m glad to hear that you find our website straightforward and user-friendly.

Indeed, the booking process is designed to be simple and efficient. It’s just three clicks away: select your preferred board, choose the event you’ll be attending, and you’re all set.

While our website is the primary platform for reservations, we also value personal connections within our community. Feel free to reach out to me directly via DM on any social network or WhatsApp if you have any questions or need assistance with your reservation. We’re here to make the process as smooth as possible for you.

Would you like to add anything Andrey?

Thank you so much Mathieu for the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with the TotalSUP community. It’s truly an honor to be able to contribute to the conversation and share insights with fellow enthusiasts. As Rudy Van Haven aptly puts it, let’s make SUP great again! I’m grateful for the chance to be a part of this movement and to connect with the entire SUP community. Together, we can continue to grow and elevate the sport to new heights. Thank you once again for the platform to share and inspire. Let’s keep paddling forward!

To find out more and book your SUP race equipment at Union Paddlers, visit:

To follow or contact Andrey Kraytor, go to:


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.

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