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The sport of SUPing is dying

Created by GreenTea 1 month ago, 26 Oct 2021
46 posts
26 Oct 2021 8:03AM
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I feel the sport is dying. I surf SUP. I've noticed the numbers of wave SUPs are decreasing. Why is this?

- Too expensive for a decent board and paddle?

- Too difficult to master so surfers give up?

- SUP riders are sick of the stink eye every time they paddle out?

- The boards and paddles are too cumbersome to lug around?

- The strain on the body is worse than prone surfing?

Do you agree or disagree?

NSW, 469 posts
26 Oct 2021 11:44AM
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Hi, for me it is arthritis, the smik bonza is the best surf sup I have owned. This "surf" quality puts pressure on joints - soreness and pain. I still surf three times week, but shorter periods in smaller waves. Gone are the days of looking at swell lines on horizon and praying it swings in. Age and injuries catch up with you. Will keep the smik forever, but may need a small wave/ flatwater board to keep enjoying the sup lifestyle Steve

NSW, 358 posts
26 Oct 2021 11:58AM
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Green tea,all of the above,but for me it's all that I have left in the ocean,as I tried prone again recently,but I'm happy to walk away from it now as my injuries won't allow even a basic small session.It's kind of liberating,as I can totally focus on sup now!I will probably get a Matt for when it's not suitable for a sup ,as I'm told they are not that easy to ride,and that will be another challenge,just need to stay in the water,

86 posts
26 Oct 2021 9:15AM
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Dying is a strong word and something I doubt. Are numbers down or not increasing? Like most new sports there might be an initial surge in numbers due to the novelty. Some of the early adopters may be ageing out and new people going more to foil than surf sup. Seems that surfing has just gotten more crowded everywhere and I do see this as a problem finding places to surf sup. I think the barrier to entry for surf sup is low, good for attracting new people, but that it is actually harder to do at an advanced level than surfing in terms of fitness and balance. If the sport is getting smaller or less hyped I think thats great as long as I can get gear.

Strain on body is so much less than shortboard surfing, this has been me like a new lease on surfing life for me.

WA, 3390 posts
26 Oct 2021 9:33AM
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Foils, they are where it at

VIC, 496 posts
26 Oct 2021 12:57PM
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Yep, many dropping out... for a few reasons I think:

- cost of boards / gear etc
- time it takes to be a solid intermediate SUP surfer in all conditions
- travel time for those who don't live near waves
- attitude towards Sup surfers in water is not friendly. Usually until you can prove you rip.
- not seen as cool... longboard surfing is about as taxing on the body for most and is seen as trendy / hipster cool.

For those who have surf / sup experience:
- foiling is seen as cooler and/or more fun even on onshore days
- trying to get new gear can be difficult - no demo opportunity (in Vic anyway) and most demo boards are 10' all rounders anyway.
- travelling with sups over 8'-9' overseas is painful, especially in indo etc.

So many locals where I live have given away Sup and Surfing altogether to only foil. Many wing foil now also when the surf is crap.

Older crew who were shortboard / longboard surfers are the ones who'll stick with SUP as their bodies can take it IMO.

I see a surf Sup as part of a quiver... Big days - shortboard, Light onshore days - shortboard, 2' pointbreak - Sup, 4' Pointbreak - Longboard, Cruising with mates - Sup, just enjoying being outdoors - Sup, arvo session after surfing in the morning and having no shoulders left - Sup. etc.

NSW, 1268 posts
26 Oct 2021 1:06PM
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Inflatable market is "exploding " here in Australia ..excuse the pun. But getting a surf sup is harder . Supply issues with China and related shipping and material issues probably making it "not worth it" for businesses to trade this type of stock

QLD, 797 posts
26 Oct 2021 12:16PM
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For me kitefoil and winging has taken over. No more 1 hr plus drives up the coast hoping for a few waves. It's now a 1 minute drive to the bay almost daily for a foil session and when the wind is strong it is a playground of swells to ride.

156 posts
26 Oct 2021 11:27AM
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Most of the sup crew were I live have gone to wing and sup foil. Cost yea it's a bit much but what has not gone up in price.The only way to know if it's dying is industry numbers how many are being sold I think the numbers are way down but I might be wrong.

4181 posts
26 Oct 2021 11:29AM
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I think SUP surfing is for very tough individuals ,and most can't hack it ..

TAS, 1041 posts
26 Oct 2021 4:01PM
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I would think it's still growing down here, not as fast as it was, but we are always behind the times here??

4420 posts
26 Oct 2021 1:07PM
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Here I do not see it as dying, but not growing anymore. But I guess it is due to the fact that you have a lot of very inexpensive but quality brands in France, I can see SUP declining in places where you are limited to the expensive ones, with not enough shops or friendly SUPers to try before buying, and not enough of a second hand market to resell gear.

All the reasons given above are valid, for me I think the main reason is that SUPing is both hard in very bad waves (chop) and in very good ones (hollow tubes), so it has a more limited range of conditions in most places than surfing, foiling, and winging. So for people that cannot choose when to get out (work, familly,...) it is not worth the technical investment. I still only SUP as I never liked to go out in chop even when prone surfing, and I am not a good enough surfer to tuberide reliably (and safely!), plus I was not hooked onto foiling, and Winging does not appeal to me (overdose of Windsurfing). But I am in a very small minority.

Looking at the latest 48 Posts in The Gong forum for instance, I found 6 for SUPing, and 42 for foiling/wing

NSW, 1268 posts
26 Oct 2021 4:40PM
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Select to expand quote
Tardy said..
I think SUP surfing is for very tough individuals ,and most can't hack it ..

The guys who are always going against the grain.
"Sup is Life "

NSW, 225 posts
26 Oct 2021 6:19PM
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+1 to most of the above
Getting old is fkd. Just keep going til ya can't.

NSW, 1600 posts
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26 Oct 2021 6:46PM
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I think the future of SUP is looking good.

For us as a shop we've found COVID has been good for steady growth in performance sup surf and longboard over the last 2 years but less so on the racing side of things. Even better news for SUP in general though is the strong growth in the grass roots recreational SUP market and this is something that was on the decline just a few years ago. More time to get on the water and less travel are seeing new faces getting out there and hopefully many will stay involved as things head back to normal.

Keep encouraging these rookies to the sport as they are the next SUP surfers.


VIC, 3019 posts
26 Oct 2021 6:55PM
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Some of the crew here have moved to the foil and wing dings , others retired from the water. Remember that a new sport has a huge initial uptake then leave until you're left with the water people who just love the stoke.When it's windy I windsurf, when it's not ,SUP, waves SUPSurf. No wind, waves or flat water...never happens here so my lawn is out of control
A foil and wing is on the Christmas list too

121 posts
26 Oct 2021 4:11PM
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Most of mate's have moved to wing foil. Resistance proved to be futile so I'm a dinger now to but still sup on the windless with wave days. Still like the feel of that rail gouging a turn. But fair to say I'm more picky about conditions as have to split time between the 2. Overall I'd say that sadly performance sup, particularly surf sup is on the decline. Does seem to a bunch more inflatables on the water though, more for family fun stuff.

QLD, 811 posts
26 Oct 2021 10:20PM
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I wish it was dying, more waves for me!
On the contrary, I see more SUPs on the water than ever at my local. Especially the blow up mattress type. Not locals though, tourists.
Foiling doesn't appeal to me, or the wing ding thing, rather have my feet wet all the time and keep that rail buried on the face.
I reckon Tardy is right too, it's a slog for most and is for very tough individuals , but I enjoy the challenge.
I know plenty of people that are good at surfing, and other sports, that have tried it and said "too hard". Or "F that" is probably more accurate.
The longer you stick at it the better you get, the more enjoyable it becomes, and the less stink eye you receive. You might even get a bit of "cred" too!
It is also good for my mental health, the worries of the world just fade into insignificance. Good for social interaction with like minded friends too.
I'll keep doing it, and progressing, and enjoying it as long as I'm physically able......

145 posts
27 Oct 2021 12:23AM
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In US it really feels like SUP went mainstream in the last couple of years because of cheaper inflatables, they're now a popular watercraft in lakes and mellow rivers during summer (though most folks not standing up on them). Whitewater SUP growing too though more niche. Curious to see if this translates into more folks trying surf SUP in coming years.

QLD, 3154 posts
27 Oct 2021 8:32AM
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The sport off SUP is still going strong and all areas seem to be doing pretty well. Racing is maybe stalled in Australia a bit but still plenty keen to do it at club levels and heaps of stoke is still there but if you look to places like Europe then racing is as strong as ever so i don't think it will be going anywhere.

On the rec side this goes up and down with the seasons and the warm weather brings out a whole new group of people and really it's still as cheap as ever if someone just wants a basic board for general paddling as these still start at prices like $699 They are maybe not you high preformace top of the line construction but for someone who just paddles for a bit of fun they are more than enough. The inflatable market has grown alot and I am sure heaps of people are buying these and the prices for inflatable boards these days are just stupid cheap with ones that will do the job for $400 or even less sometimes, same thing maybe not top end but for a general paddler they are more than enough.( I hate inflatables SUP's by the way)

Currumbin which is my local is still crowed with SUP's when it's good so it's not going anywhere soon.

NSW, 62 posts
27 Oct 2021 10:38AM
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Interesting to here the retail blokes and Surffx echoes the sentiment that plenty of stock is still going out the doors - "I'm not dead yet".
SFA supsurfers where I live, mainly prones and lids with the odd weekend mal, so now a few of us are having a dig supsurf numbers have increased. Will be interesting to see how all wave warrior numbers look when travel restrictions ease.
Like others I'll always divide my time between prone and sup surfing because I can and am happy to keep progressing my supsurfing with no interest in all the other sh1t atm.

165 posts
27 Oct 2021 11:17AM
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I think the surf part of SUP is quite demanding ,how many near misses..i mean those are big boards...not for everyone i guess...its a risky business sometimes...but a good wave and you are gone for the next

QLD, 14 posts
27 Oct 2021 4:24PM
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Interesting lots out there, done everything over 40yrs in and on water....

Started with SUP on Goldie when it first popped up 15'ish yrs ago....not much choice then, best boards were PU glass Ron House and all brands in infancy etc...since then had everything in SUP and have always gravitated towards the race/flatwater aspect as IMO it seems like a great and the best use of the sport...(each to their own). Love the training/fitness aspect and passion of people like Jim Terrell and where Flatwater SUP sits alongside other traditional flatware paddle sports like Kayak and Canoe racing.

For a proper surf experience still can't go past the cutting edge of prone surfing and modern thruster design, way back 30yrs ago a trusty old famous industry shaper said to me, "everything else in the surf is fun but it's the modern thruster, that is the cutting edge and pinnacle of the surfing sport and design process". It has stayed with me forever... and still go back to this aspect for pure experience in waves, as I'm still able with fitness for age in good check. For me SUP surf is like the old shaper said about longboards and other craft in the line-up , good fun and enjoyment etc. each to their own. But for the pure and ultimate wave riding experience look at KS, JJF, Dane and the's the ultimate what these guys are doing and where they're taking high performance wave riding to - aka true surfing IMO.
The whole wing ding thing is another diversification and aspect drawing on several elements of water/surf sports, I simply don't get this one though - whatever floats your boat?

I have always liked to cut down any sport or aspect of it to it's simplest and purest form that extract or exhibits the utmost of performance and experience, i.e. cricket is a game over 5 days with a red ball during the daylight with no numbers or names plastered over people and no KFC video dismissal.

Really interesting discussion topic and where/what the whole wind, surf, sail, paddle thing has thing for sure is that as the more diversification = the more the crowds, especially in lineups. Another and single biggest reason I love the aspect of finding your own patch of water about SUP, the serenity and solitude of glassy paddles in pristine waterways up rivers and creeks are abundant in our country.

In Summary for me:
Surf and Waves - modern prone thruster, no compromise cutting edge and will always be the pinnacle of wave riding and design
Flat Water - SUP, best suited for purpose and alike to other paddle sports like Kayak and Canoe racing, unparalleled fitness and training, recreational and fun cruising
Ocean/Open Water/Wind - Buy a boat (sail of course) Windsurfing allowed - no foil attached.
Above the Water - buy a plane, helicopter - go fly a drone (don't understand foil at all!) If you're not connected to the water, you're not connected to the water! (especially those electric foils - OMG)

Sure to raise some response....

21 posts
27 Oct 2021 6:08PM
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**** I hope it is. Bodyboarding is ****ing dead. Go down the south coast and ride those waves that only bodyboarders want to ride and the crowds are gone.

WA, 1220 posts
28 Oct 2021 9:34AM
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I suspect there are specific circumstances that has led to less SUP surfing where you are GT. A handful of any number of the reasons mentioned above.

For me the waves I surf don't really have SUP surfers on them so I have not noticed much of a change, I don't surf anything crazy just seek out local gems at certain times of year and at times of the day that work for me.

Hate to say it but the idea of paddling out to a break full of SUP surfers freaks me out, I like the SUP for the solitude aspect of it and being able to roam and find a peak on my own or with a small crew.

46 posts
28 Oct 2021 10:06AM
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I agree with you Souwester. A paddle down the beach is the beauty of the sport.

I've been committed to the sport for over 15 years.

I suppose I started this thread from the fact of the distinct scarcity of good equipment around!

All the players around my local have basically dropped progressive/wave SUP.

I suppose I have myself to blame as I only bought on sale equipment!!

But Australia's middle man jacks the price up too much and it's not a big enough market to parallel import from the manufacturer.


NSW, 1268 posts
28 Oct 2021 1:57PM
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The beauty of SUP surfing is you can ride crappy waves away from the crowd . Yeah maybe you are not one of the cool kids but thats the way I like it . Against the grain

2305 posts
28 Oct 2021 12:01PM
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On Cape Cod, we have a very strong and growing SUP surf crew
Many good SUPsters mixing with surfers in the lineup and we all get along just fine

Honestly, I can't imagine life without SUP surfing... I love everything about it and get somewhat offended when it is considered less than surfing. I don't accept 2nd spot to "surfers"... I just go surfing, on my SUPs, and I fit in wherever I surf.

I have always felt that SUP has added a lot of dimension to my lifelong surf experience.

Every day, I talk to people all over the world that are buying Surf SUPs

WA, 1220 posts
28 Oct 2021 1:16PM
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Good to hear its going well for you Rick, the aloha is alive and well in your neck of the woods!

I hear what you are saying in regards to stock GT, I have managed to get my hands on a SUP that suits from one of the big mobs but it was more of a fluke then anything.

834 posts
28 Oct 2021 4:54PM
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Getting involved in the online frenzy on this forum was about the end of my SUP career. Sad case of my bad humour head butting serious egos and popularity competitions. One day my paddle broke -again - and I never bothered to fix or replace it.

Well that was till I packed on the pounds during the Rona lockdowns. Without access to the gym I started to look back on what in the past had kept me in prime condition. So now I have bought a new paddle and posted on here. I might remain sensible enough to curtail the later destructive behaviour!

1556 posts
28 Oct 2021 5:11PM
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As Surgolrun talks about the pinnacle of surfing through the modern thruster design, I think that the SUP needs more time to hit the same pinnacle of shaping creativity and its surfing level like the latest generation of young surfing champ rookies is doing or attempting it every year on SB.
SUP in its surfing section, which is my own concern, is not dying, this is just a temporary metamorphosis through its foiled and winged side to only name those both sides, and I'm really stocked as ever when watching my good mate getting 3 waves in a row pumping around.
Also, yesterday while SUP surfing by myself away from crowded surfing spots, I was met by my 38 years old son, an experienced surfer, and my happiness came from seeing him paddling out more than matching the fast lip from under on my fresh glassed SUP. This happy meeting makes me think that the SUP is the next step of Surfing which needs decades like it has been done to make my son surfing at his level by now.
IMO, SUP is a transmission of the surfing act, it needs time to be


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"The sport of SUPing is dying" started by GreenTea