Stand up paddle board racing

Stand up paddle board racing has grown exponentially in a relatively short time. According to Wikipedia’s entry on stand up paddle surfing, the first stand up paddle race took place on August 8, 2007 on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe in Tahoe City, CA, with 34 competitors. By 2012 the numbers had grown: 400 competitors from around the world AND 4000 spectators. The event is called the Ta-Hoe Nalu Paddle Festival - link -

Like other SUP disciplines, racing is attracting converts as fast as you can say “Go!” The reasons are the same: it’s easy to start, anyone can try it, and it’s fun. It can also be lucrative: in 2013, $25,000 in cash and prizes was awarded to competitors at the most prestigious professional stand up paddle board race in the world: the “Battle of the Paddle”. Now the worlds largest racing events  according to SUP Connect,  around the world.

A growing phenomenon? You bet. One day, this could even be an Olympic event! Currently there are three racing classes for SUP racing: Fun, Serious Fun, and Very Serious Fun. At this point in time there is still a "pick the board you want" scenario. In other words, there isn't a regulation single board designed to equalize contestants, although as competition becomes more serious and stakes become higher, regulations will be a given. See more on SUP racing classes/divisions below.

Dockslocks locking system

SUP Racing Rulebook published by World Paddle Association

How and why to might want to race is explained in the following video.

by StandUpFlatwaterBend

Paddle board racing guidelines / divisions


The SUPAA and manufacturers announce race board restrictions March of 2014. Rules will come into effect 2015. SUP racer

Race Categories/Divisions published by the World Paddle Association


12.2 feet (short course only) SUP surfboard - fun

12.6 feet and under (stock) - fun

This is the least competitive class of SUP racing, where entries come with their personal boards whether they are narrow or wide, wave, touring or all-round stand up paddle boards. Length is the primary regulation here. Note that one brand of 12.6 board compared to another brand of 12.6 board may not be equal in speed. This class is a perfect starting place for those who just want to experience what sup racing is all about.

14 feet and under- serious fun

This class is serious. The boards are specifically built for SUP racing, with a small amount of rocker and pointed nose, but the tail and hull shape can vary. They are shaped at the nose like a kayak to cut through water with minimal drag. This class of paddle board racing may have regulations regarding the existence of a rudder. 

unlimited - Boards over 14 feet - very serious fun

This discipline of paddle board racing is where you'll find innovative racing board design—perhaps the most innovative design for stand up paddle boards, period. These boards don’t really don't look like other SUPs; they are more comparable in appearance to a kayak, and can travel at great speeds. The nose is always pointed, although the tail may still vary in shape. If the board has a rudder, it is controlled by the forward foot—and yes, this takes some practice! This board is the most expensive, and this category is for the very serious.


Juniors (13-17) on a 12’6” and short course only

Kids (12 Under) on a 12’6” and short course only

Race Directors have the option to omit any of the categories depending on number of entrants, conditions, length of race, etc. These are recommended guidelines from the World Paddle Association (WPA) and are categories that WPA will both sanction and rank against.

Looking For Paddle Board Race Schedules? Follow this link. 

stand up paddle board racing

back to SUP disciplines

Home – where it all started

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Your paddle boarding comments, stories and ideas are valued! Many thanks!

Most recent SUP gear review -phone case.
DukGear case review

Dear Visitors
We are pleased you visit our website and hope that you are finding our content to be informative and useful. As you may know, our website relies on advertising to generate revenue that helps us to continue providing quality content. By viewing and/or  engaging with our content ads, you are helping to support our mission and keep our website free for all users. MANY THANKS!

SUP accessories

A growing phenomenon? You bet. One day, this could even be an Olympic event!