Sean Poynter on the Future of SUP Surfing

16 Dec 2016

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Multiple SUP Surf World Champion Sean Poynter talks to TotalSUP about a oh so very important question: the future of Stand Up Paddle Surfing.
Photos: Sean Evans.

Sean Poynter SUP Surfing

So Sean… what is the future of SUP surfing?

Great question. Legitimacy, expansion and accessibility. Legitimacy in the sense that surfers will continue to evolve their surfing to where any surfer in the world couldn’t deny the ability of the SUP surfers. Also gaining as much recognition by working with certain groups or organizations that bring forward more credibility to the sport. Expansion is the growth of this sport. As people continue to be introduced and fall in love with SUP they are going to want to enjoy other avenues of the sport. Starting in flat water, it’s a natural desire for that paddler to want to get in the ocean and catch a wave, it’s natural evolution. We want to evolve and succeed, and with the ever great growing camps and retreats out there that are all about inclusivity, continued expansion is inevitable. Accessibility goes hand in hand with expansion. As expansion and demand for the sport grows, so will avenues for people to get out and paddle and surf will as well. I think we’re already seeing that with the wave pools. Those are huge components to the accessibility factor of the sport.


What would you like to see happen with the sport?

I would like to see the athletes get better (and we are), but I just want us to keep pushing our limits, keep pushing the needle that we see as great and become even better. By large SUP surfing is pitted up against traditional surfing and we all know how amazing the current state of surfing is. It’s incredible. So being compared to that, it’s tough to hold a candle up against. I would like to get to a point where our SUP surfing by large and by many, are comparative.


What is your opinion on the state of the competitive platform for SUP surfing?

What platform? Haha.. Seriously we don’t really have one right now, on the pro level that is. The Waterman League that has held the world tour of SUP surfing since 2010 has been struggling this last year to host events. Like anything new in a new space, it’s tough for things to get going. That has certainly been the case here on the competitive side of things. Simply, the money hasn’t been there. There is some new hope that in 2017 the Waterman League will have a fully functioning tour for SUP surfing, but only time will tell. It would be great if that would be the case. The sport is full of passionate paddlers who want to showcase what they got and compete against individuals like themselves who are pushing their own levels and subsequently the caliber of the sport. My fingers are crossed for 2017.

Sean Poynter SUP Surf Champion

What’s your take on the International Surfing Association (ISA)?

I would like to follow up on this in another post here, but you can’t take away what they’re doing for the sport, for SUP surfing and even racing for that matter. They are the recognized International Federation for surfing by the International Olympic Committee. It’s great to have an IF hosting our championships like that. Under their organization they are bringing surfing to the 2020 Olympics and potentially SUP could follow in 2024, maybe, hopefully. However, I think there is a much needed debate that needs to happen for the sport in deciding which IF(s) we need to go with in order to make best our chances of getting both disciplines (SUP surfing and SUP racing) into the 2024 Olympics. And in the process fast-tracking the sport’s legitimacy and success.

How important are the competitive platforms for SUP Surfing?

Oh so important. Competition is a major motivator in what drives performance and progress. Without it, we would/could be many steps slower to reach where we need to be than without competition. This goes for every individual in the world, not just the pros. And this goes beyond sport. Healthy competition, competition that pushes you to be better, to work harder, to reach for more is what can help lead us to progression. Competition is needed in this sport for growth and beyond that it’s needed in all of our lives (I believe) for our individual growth. More healthy competition the better.

Sean Poynter Stand Up Paddle Surfing

How would you like to see 2017 shake out for the sport in general?

Unity. I’d like to see more of the sport and the individuals within it working together to lift the sport up, to grow and introduce it to people. To help each other out to reach each others goals and encourage one another to. This sport has so much potential and it’s our separation that I believe is only going to limit the amount of real potential it has. I’d like to see us work together more.

Thank you Sean.

For more information on the SUP N Surf retreats organized by Sean Poynter and Ian Cairns in Punta Mita, Mexico, Click here! Next retreat is January 17-21st 2017 with a few spots still available!

Sean Poynter Sup Surf

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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