The cool off – sustaining stand up paddle boarding’s growth beyond summer 2020.

Most will now be well aware of stand up paddling‘s unprecedented growth post-lockdown. This weekend, as of August 8, 2020, saw another round of mainstream press coverage which tells you something. There’s nothing and nobody that could’ve predicted how this year would go. Certainly not SUP industry big wigs who in 2019 suggested a consolidation was taking place after things had slowed.

In some ways it’s kind of the opposite to how things were at SUP‘s modern guise inception around 2005. Touted as the biggest thing since sliced bread – or rather ‘the fastest growing watersport on the planet’ – it certainly set off on solid footing before 2008’s economic crash put paid to the metaphorical SUP sales explosion every brand was imagining. Instead, stand up paddle boarding bubbled along at a slightly faster growth rate than average.

At the start of 2020 there were inklings already in some minds regarding the impending global pandemic. But nothing in those crystal balls suggested a re-energised/reinvigorated interest with standing atop boards and paddling. In fact, during lockdown the outdoor industry at large were full of doom and gloom. Then shutters were lifted and the cocktail of staycation, furlough, good weather and time at home conspired to make stand up paddle boarding THE coolest thing do this summer, once again. (We’ll also admit some other outdoor pursuits, such as cycling, have also been enjoying a bumper season).

But what about sustaining this growth? Is that possible or will things cool off?

There’s wide media suggestion about all manner of things come autumn. Unemployment, a potential virus second wave along with Mother Nature’s mood taking on a changeable tone which all could halt proceedings. From a weather/seasonality point of view watersports always slow once we emerge from ‘silly season’. The fact is: most practitioners are fair weather and the UK’s climate isn’t always inviting during autumn and winter. Plus, daylight hours are against those who do regular 9-5 jobs with less time to indulge even if they wanted to. Although, with a more remote work ethic perhaps that won’t be a thing…

Regardless, SUPer numbers on the water will probably dip after September – unless we get a decent October weather window around school half term. Even with the onset of winter, however, stand up paddling certainly doesn’t have to stop. Those who fancy progressing and pushing on can certainly do so with the right ‘tools’ – such as decent wetsuit and such.

So what of spring 2021 and the continuation of stand up paddling‘s popularity? Some economically minded types would suggest that because of the unprecedented re-growth of SUP in 2020 it’ll last into next year. That would be logical if these times we’re living in were normal (which they aren’t). We’d possibly witness the knock effect from this season. By that we mean: person A buys a stand up paddle board which is noted by person B – perhaps a neighbour or work colleague. Person B investigates then also makes a purchase which is noted by person C. And so on, and so on…

Unfortunately, based on how 2020 has been so far, things are never quite that simple. We can’t predict what’ll happen in the next 12 months. We can’t predict what’ll happen next week! But, what we can tell you is anyone who’s gotten hold of stand up paddle boarding equipment for the first time this year will be much better off for it. Of course, SUP isn’t the be all and end all. But in times of chaos it certainly helps to have some form of release – which stand up paddling certainly can offer. So in that sense, for those in a position to get involved next year there’s argument to do so.

For now, enjoy your paddling and the rest of summer in the UK – it’s certainly been one for the records! Only time will tell how 2021 pans out…

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