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Is being a SUP pro (and getting sponsored) still a thing?

Back in the day when SUP‘s renaissance first started taking shape there was a mass clambering to (literally) get on board with stand up. Hailed as the fastest growing watersport every man and his dog wanted a slice of the pie – not too dissimilar to 2020 (apart from the lack of Covid!). Stand up paddle boarding, however, was a different beast back then. Whilst the elements that make up performance SUP are still there less emphasis is placed on being a ‘SUP athlete’ and competing.

Of course, there are still those who want to pit their wits and skills against others in a SUP race environment or surfing arena. If you subscribe to this then that route’s certainly an option. What is significantly different, however, are the lack of so called ‘team riders’ in SUP and sponsored/supported paddlers – at least within the UK scene.

Pre-2010 and up until a few years back team riders were everywhere. Mainly put in place to do a job – i.e. promote the brand’s product they happen to be riding. Social media streams are prime outlet for this kind of thing. And before you knew it every FB group you looked at had some kind of team rider spouting how the kit he/she was using is the best. But you can bet if a better offer came along said paddler would instantly change their tune in a heartbeat.

In 2020 team riders and sponsored SUP athletes are still in the mix but there’s less of them. This has gone hand in hand with stand up’s shift to a more recreational activity and focus. Not many SUPers want to smash out the miles on a racecourse or do battle with Neptune’s Revenge in heavy surf environments. Instead SUP has relaxed to the pace of the everyman/woman where all paddlers are free to participate at their own pace in whichever scenario they choose.

McConks has never had team riders per se. We have a few trusted friends who are happy to use our products but that’s about it. And we have to say stand up paddle boarding is all the better for it. What do you think?

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