What’s the secret to SUP Team success? Starboard Portugal Team Rider & Coach Rui Ramos spills the beans

One of the most compelling aspects of our sport is the story of belonging, being empowered and elevated as a SUP athlete or recreational paddler by teams and squads that we surround ourselves with. A new tribalism, one may say, that manifests itself strongest when it comes to international events, where that support is most needed as SUP athletes dig deeper and push harder than ever to make their national teams proud.

Seeing first-hand the super explosive joy and encouragement from the Portuguese Team at the ICF SUP Worlds in Gdynia, Poland, TotalSUP caught up with Starboard Team Rider, 8x National SUP Champion (both in Surf and Canoe Federations*) and Coach Rui Ramos to find out what the secret SUP sauce to his squad is…

Hi Rui, welcome to TotalSUP! Could you tell us how did you get into the sport of stand-up paddleboarding and what’s your local scene like?

One day I was watching a DVD and I saw Eddie Vedder cruising on a paddleboard in Washington… I was curious… I wanted to do the same, I did it and that’s how my SUP journey started. My city, Vila do Conde in Portugal is both near the ocean and river so I’m in a perfect place for stand-up paddleboarding. I have never been drawn to watersports before but there’s something magical about this one. I like all SUP disciplines and that’s why I love this sport, because of its many disciplines.

I do however prefer endurance on long distances races – I love when I’m doing flat water training and then suddenly I can surf on a boat wave or the wind comes and I can do a perfect downwind chasing bumps… I love the way we can move on a SUP board, standing gives me a feeling of power and freedom …. And every day is a good day for training, no matter what there the conditions are. Located in the north of Portugal and near Porto, Vila do Conde, is a perfect spot for all SUP disciplines. We have beaches, waves, flat water and some of the best downwind conditions you can imagine.

You’re a SUP athlete and Coach running highly-focused training programmes in Portugal… Could you tell us more about it and your current SUP training offering?

Yes, when I discovered this passion I wanted to learn everything about it and I learned a lot from Leonard Nika, Bruno Hasulyo and SEPA. I was very lucky to have them here in Portugal. Then I started inviting all my friends to do it – at that point I was addicted and I wanted to share what I have learnt. I started to compete on regular basis and won my first National Title in 2017. I have been the National Champion eight times since then in every SUP discipline, from technical, long distance to sprint races, both in Surf and Canoe Federations.


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When I completed the coaching course, I’ve started building a team, which is now 60 riders of all ages. With the competing experience, I can coach better and with Starboard, having the best gear to teach, the best natural facilities and the best team spirit, I think we can create good athletes and compete in the best SUP events in the world.

You focus on training the next generation of SUP athletes. Based on your experience with training young paddlers, what’s the secret to becoming a great paddler?

To become a great paddler you first have to be passionate about it… And it’s easier when you are surrounded by good a team spirit. I know it’s an individual sport but when you have good teammates it is totally different, feeling that you have a team to support you is the best thing one can have to improve and to push your limits.

You must also enjoy the process of getting better on SUP, no matter how much it will cost. To track and keep our riders motivated we share many videos and pictures of our team training on my Instagram account. I also create challenges for our followers and our team so we can all improve together. In the last few years this project has already changed many lives and I feel very grateful to have found amazing people on the way, this team is my second family.

Could you tell us more about your collaboration with Starboard?

My first time on a SUP board was on a Starboard and I loved it! When Starboard invited me to represent the brand here in Portugal, I was really happy as the quality of this brand is unique and the values they promote are so important for the future generations – I’m glad to be part of it. I identify a lot with the Starboard Tiki lifestyle so we created @starboardportugal.

What’s your Starboard board set up?

I have all models, I have 3 Starboard Sprints, 2 Starboard Allstars, 1 Ace, 1 Hypernut and many Airline models… I’m currently competing on Starboard Allstar 2022 14 x 23 and Sprint 2022 14 x 20.75. Waiting for my Hollow SPRINT ZERO to arrive though!

How do you prepare for SUP racing competitions?

I do my best as I’m not a professional paddler, I have an IT business to run, a team to coach and a family to take care, but training is a part of me, it’s part of my routine. Of course I like to win races but that’s not why I compete – I do it because I love the days when I put all my training and my effort into the practice.

Competing is a way to learn and to see how close I can get to the TOP paddlers’ level. To progress in this sport I have to do my trainings correctly, eat healthy and rest… If I do that I know I will be ready and enjoy the race moment. Now I’m training with the best partner I can have, my younger brother. He is pushing my limits every day, running, paddling, swimming, working on our mobility, in the gym etc.. And then the main reason of all is that this lifestyle makes me feel good with both my body and mind so that I can be my best version for my family.

How do you think the sport of stand-up paddleboarding will evolve?

I think SUP will be Olympic sport in a few years. It will continue to grow. But let’s give more to the athletes, support them so they can put all the effort and dedication in it and in the end they would feel rewarded, they wanting to get into the sport and stay in it.

What are your SUP racing plans?

Next year, I’ll be 40 and I want to continue having the same lifestyle. Racing is part of it. I feel inspired by others but competing with myself too so the plan is to race until I’m 80 and only then I’ll decide if I stop or not 🙂 Thank you TotalSUP for the great job you do for our community.

Thank you for growing the SUP racing community and see you at the next event?

To find out more about Starboard innovation and check out the 2022 board range, visit

Have you heard about the Future Fighters movement? Visit Blue Tiki – A token for Future Fighters 

Follow Rui Ramos on Instagram 

*Images courtesy of Rui Ramos 

* 3x Long Distance Champion (Surf Federation), 1x Technical Race Champion (Surf Federation), 2x Sprint Champion (Canoe Federation), 2x Long Distance Champion (Canoe Federation)

About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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