The 2022 ICF SUP World Ranking Series Explained

Following two successful and well-run SUP Race world championships organized in 2019 in China and in 2021 in Hungary, the International Canoe Federation (also know as ICF or Planet Canoe on the web), launched their Stand Up Paddle Race 2022 season with an extra load of ambition. Two XL-sized international events are already proof of that, the epic and historical Carolina Cup in North Carolina, USA and the ICE Race in Thune in Switzerland being the first two stops of a brand new 6-event ICF SUP World Ranking Series leading to the 2022 ICF SUP World Championships in Gdynia, Poland in September. With 4 more ranking events and the high-profile Loopa SUP – ICF World CUP #2 in Budapest in June, we asked the man in charge of SUP at the Canoe Fedaration, Hoichan Kwon to explain the ICF 2022 plans and the terminology that goes with it.

Hello Hoichan, since we got introduced a year ago, you seem to have become the busiest man in the world with a yearly ICF SUP World Championships and now a World Circuit to organize. How’s your work routine been since the 2021 ICF SUP Worlds in Lake Ballaton?

It’s been a crazy busy indeed. Soon after the 2021 world championships, I jumped right into building the calendar and launching the 2022 ICF SUP World Ranking Series. I was fortunate to find a partner to help series for board rentals and transport for the series which has been a huge help for us.

What is the point of a Ranking Series in addition to the ICF World Championships?

The purpose this year is mainly focused on how to limit the number of days required for people to come to our world championships in Gdynia. With 500 participants last year, we had 4 full days of racing. If we have more than that, it becomes a full week. We can’t require paddlers to come to our competitions for that long when most of our participants have a day job outside of SUP, so we built these ranking points to try to encourage people to pre-qualify for the world championships thereby limiting the number of races required at our world championships. The ranking series is only for the open age group and only for technical and sprint races. Just to clarify, the ICF SUP World Championship is still open to everyone! However, in the open age group, technical and sprint races will require preliminary rounds before the main championship. So if you’re not pre-qualified, it means you have to come to our world championships a couple of days earlier and go through the preliminary rounds.

You have got two types of events within the ICF World Circuit. World Ranking events and World Cups. Typically, The Carolina Cup and the ICE Race. What are the main differences between the two?

The main difference between the two is the weight of the ranking points. For ICF World Cup results count 100 percent while World ranking races results count 75 percent. For example, 1st place at a World Cup receives 1100 points while world ranking race 1st place receives 825 points. You can check out the details on our website:

Where can we see the ICF SUP series rankings?

The rankings are updated after every competition on a PDF document available at all times on the following link:

Below is the calendar of all the events leading to the ICF SUP World in Gdynia, Poland. Can you explain what strategic choices you made in designing this circuit and partnering with some event organizers?

well to be honest, there was not much strategy put into it. I approached some events, some events approached us. Only thing I considered was the route, don’t want to be going from one side of Europe to the other and back which would be terrible for the board logistics. I’m hoping to pick up more events for next year so if any event organizers are interested, please contact me!

– ICF World Ranking Event – The Carolina Cup – Wrightsville Beach, USA 

April 30–May 1  Schedule available

Total Purse: USD 13,370 (Split 50/50 Men/Women)Technical : USD 1,750
Long Distance : USD 11,620

– ICF World Cup #1 – ICE Race – Thun, Switzerland
May 7–9  Schedule available

Total Purse: EUR 9,000 (Split 50/50 Men/Women)Sprint : EUR 3,000
Technical : EUR 3,000
Long Distance : EUR 3,000
*Additionally, the overall winners of each World Cup (Man,Woman) will win fully funded trip to the World Championships in Poland.

– ICF World Ranking Event – Prague SUP Race – Prague Czech Republic
May 27–29
Total Purse: EUR 2,000 (Split 50/50 Men/Women)
Technical : EUR 1,000
Long Distance : EUR 1,000

– ICF World Ranking Event – Legend of Ox – Lake Wolfgang, Austria
June 4–5  Schedule available
Total Purse: EUR 2,000 (Split 50/50 Men/Women)
Technical : EUR 1,000
Long Distance : EUR 1,000

– ICF SUP World Cup #2 – Budapest, Hungary
June 17–19  Schedule available
Total Purse:  EUR 6,000Sprint : EUR 2,000
Technical : EUR 2,000
Long Distance : EUR 2,000
*Additionally, the overall winners of each World Cup (Man,Woman) will win fully funded trip to the World Championships in Poland.

– ICF SUP World Cup 3 – Oklahoma, USA 
August 26-28
Total Purse:  TBC
Additionally, the overall winners of each World Cup (Man,Woman) will win fully funded trip to the World Championships in Poland.

Budapest is the destination of ICF World CUP #2 on June XXX put together by the Hungarian Canoe Federation. You seem to have a soft spot for Hungary. Why is that?

When the Hungarian Canoe Federation approached us with interest to host, we were thrilled. We work with them almost every year for canoeing and are always blown away by the level of competitions they produce. The competitions they usually hold for us are bigger scale than SUP events so there was no doubt of their capabilities. They are just very reliable which makes our lives much easier. This is also the same with our Polish federation which will host this year’s championships. So we’re very lucky to have experienced federations like them. and obviously the interest from our federations like Hungary and Poland directly reflects the growing popularity of SUP in that region which we’re excited to be part of.

What types of expectations participating athletes should have in Budapest on June 17/19? In Budapest, you can expect what was delivered in Balaton at 2021 ICF SUP World Championships.

The professionalism, efficiency of the organization, and fun entertaining atmosphere will be there for all levels of paddlers.

The label ICF World Cup can be a little daunting for non-professional athletes. Can you confirm that the event is open to everyone and why? Yes! All ICF SUP events are open to the general public. We know the essence of SUP is inclusivity and accessibility. We want to continue to promote that idea that this sport is not just for the elite athletes and want to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible. That is our main principle behind our board regulations. We encourage not just the top paddlers but those weekend warriors come enjoy our all events! I’ll be at all of our events so if you read this, make sure to come say hi!

For more information on the ICF, go to:

Website / Facebook / Instagram

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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