Sea sweepers ahoy! The annual Surf Canada Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Nationals are coming to Sidney, May 25–26.
The national championships, formerly known as The Summer Jam, will see recreational level and elite entrants compete, with the winners of the elite division feeding Team Canada.
The members of Team Canada will then compete at the Pan-American Games.
SUP is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and the nationals will attract competitors from across Canada. Although originally a Polynesian activity that is still used to surf waves, the SUP nationals will involve non-surfing disciplines, more attuned to the lakes and rivers of Canada.
Entrants in the three disciplines will be competing in are the 200-metre sprint, 4K Technical (think ski slalom or motocross) and the 18-kilometre distance race.
The first two events are quick and exciting, taking place close to spectators watching in the marina or on on the beach. The distance race involves competitors paddling for three hours, and the organizers take advantage of the lack of spectacle by holding youth sprints and letting beachgoers try the SUPs out.
“There’s a community aspect. Anyone can enter and it’s up to them if they enter for recreational or elite [categories],” says Dan Tarnow, Surf Canada board member.
“There’s a festival vibe and it’s exciting. Competitors with a background in surfing have better balance when it’s windy, while someone who has rowed often has more power. It’s anyone’s game,” says Tarnow.
Tarnow, who battled back from a broken back to compete for Team Canada, says he’s a “big advocate” of the sport and its health benefits.
He is keen for as many people as possible to come and experience it and is especially interested in highlighting the fun, fitness side of the sport for people aged 55 and over, with an over 55s category to be introduced soon.
“There will be lots of different vendors and food trucks. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he says.