In May 2019, the first One Class SUP race premiered at the Salt Life Cup in Columbus, GA. The goal of this new race format is to make SUP racing accessible to everyone, affordable and fun. The principle behind the One Class SUP race is to organize a race event within a main event in which all boards are all identical in shape, size and weight (12’6 in length and 30″ wide). The race courses are one to two miles long so that paddlers of all ages and abilities can participate. The One Class aims at leveling the playing field and encouraging more people to join. Since the kick-off in 2019, there have been several One Class races, even though the 2020 race schedule has been substantially reduced, as we all know. I caught up with SIC Global Brand Manager Anthony Scaturro to ask him about the role that One Class boards will play in the future of SUP racing.
In 2020, there were several One Class races around the world, for example at the Junior Olympic Games in Florida. What are some of your most memorable impressions from the races?
I think what is most memorable from the past One Class events is that it puts fun back into racing. Seeing people encouraged to race because people of all ages and abilities can participate on a board that is stable and yet performs nicely. It also super fun to watch team relay races that are mixed with men, women, kids, pros and amateurs. There is always a lot of laughing and high fives within the team, cheering each other on and the crowd really gets into it to making it fun for both participants and spectators alike.
Who can race in the One Class series?
Anyone can race in One Class. That is the goal. There are more than 8,000 boards out there that fit the One Class specifications. These boards are all made at the Tahe Outdoors factory in France and other than the brand or graphics, the boards are all nearly identical – meaning that there is no unfair advantage of shape or weight of the boards.
How does the One Class make it easy for people to start racing?
One Class races often have the boards and paddles provided and the entry fee is usually lower than Elite and Open Class races. Races can also be run with only a few boards on site by running a heat format. In this way, the event organizers can accommodate a large number of participants with very few boards. With 6 boards, running a heat format, you can have, for example, 60 people race in 10 short heats. If you have your own boards that fits the One Class specifications (see below) you can also signup and enter if it is a One Class – Open style race. It’s very affordable to own a One Class board that you can use as your everyday fitness and touring board and when there is a race you show up and enter the One Class category. These boards are made out of a very durable glass and thermo-plastic called Ace-Tec and this is why the boards are so affordable as well. They retail at only $1,049. Which is about 65% cheaper than a full carbon race board. One Class makes racing more accessible, affordable and fun.
What impact does the One Class have on the racing scene?
I think that One Class will help to get new people who have otherwise been intimidated to race against super light-weight, narrow boards paddled by athletes who train to win. Sure, you may want to win a One Class race or you may want to just go out and give it your best, have fun and enjoy the paddling community. Having fleets of One Class boards around the world and at different events also allows people to fly to a race across the country or in another country. You don’t have to fly with your board and paddle and yet you can show up in a new place, meet new people, race and leave without the logistical hassle of traveling with your board. In some cases, you cannot even fly with your board so this may be the only way you can travel and race. The other nice point is :If you train at home on a One Class board and show up and charter or use a board provided at the event then you will already be used to the board because One Class boards are all exactly the same dimensions and weight – let’s say +/- 1%.
Which boards are approved for the One Class SUP racing series?
So far, the following brands/models fit the One Class specification: SIC Sonic, BIC Wing, Oxbow Discover and Oxbow Explore. Tahe Outdoors will build One Class boards with custom graphics for other brands, shops and event organizers that want to have their own graphics or co-branded graphics on their One Class boards.
What are the most important characteristics of the One Class boards? How do they differ from other all-round boards?
The most important characteristics is that all boards have the same specification with a minimal weight differential to ensure that there is no unfair advantage and it’s all about the person paddling as opposed to who has the fastest, lightest, narrowest, etc. board. This levels the playing field. It’s also important to keep the length of the races comfortable so that more people can complete. 1 to 2 miles is a distance everyone can paddle.
There is a pretty good number – around 8000 – of One Class boards that are paddled around the world today. Do you anticipate that many of these paddlers from clubs and leisure paddling groups will start racing?
The shape of the boards is great and so the boards perform very well. They are designed to stack on top of each other as well for more compact storage. They are very durable and affordable. I therefore do anticipate that the demand for these boards will continue especially as more and more races include One Class in their class categories. So this is a great solution for individuals want to own their own One Class board and for retailers, clubs, event organizers who want to put them in their fleets to use for demos, and rentals. They can then also be used in their One Class race.
What are the plans for next year – will there be international One Class races as far as you can tell now? – and we realize it’s difficult to make any predictions.
We now have the APP, Euro Tour, WPA and the AAU that hosted the Youth Olympic Championship in Melbourne Florida a few months ago. There are many stand-alone, local races incorporating the One Class into the race programs now as well. I predict this will only continue to gain in popularity because everyone loves to have a good time and more people will tune-in and join in these races as participants and not just spectators if we keep it fun, non-intimidating, inclusive and accessible. This is what our sport needs more of to continue to grow and for racing to keep its allure.
Thanks so much for the interview, Anthony.
If you want to find out more or organize a One Class race, please contact SIC Maui