By Kayla Anderson
Stand-up paddleboarding is a great way to get in shape, relax, and improve your overall wellbeing. In 2014, studies showed that stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) was the most popular outdoor recreation activity for beginners and it is continuing to grow. While SUP is gaining more attention, race organizations have started springing up to support the sport and get more people involved.
This weekend, the Sparks Marina is hosting its first ever SUPcross, a national stand-up paddleboarding race on a closed course. SUPcross Co-Creator Evan Young came up with the idea in West Virginia when he noticed the Pro Watercross held a jetski racing event in the area. Wanting to create something that would combat obesity and the opioid crisis going on, the American Canoe Association state director came up with SUPcross mimicked after the moto community.
“It’s three-fourths of a mile around the entire track, it takes 9-15 minutes to do the course when racing,” Young says. “This course is laid out for fun and speed in a safe setting without the hazards that the ocean or whitewater racing can present,” says Young.
Typically, most SUP races are done on a long course out of sight from viewers (much like running a 5k trail race). However, a SUPcross held in a small lake racetrack-type setting eliminates unforeseen hazards like you would experience in open water conditions. A closed-circuit course creates a safer, contained environment where the focus is strictly on speed and having fun with fellow paddlers.
Racing on a closed-circuit course within the marina also allows athletes to test their agility, balance, and stamina in a fast-paced setting while spectators watch from the shore. Up to 20 paddlers will be in a heat, utilizing their determination, speed, and technique to beat out fellow competitors. Paddlers can expect more buoy turns and a chance to catch up/gain the lead in the straightaways and will do well if they are comfortable practicing an array of board stances, technical paddle strokes, endurance, and come with an attitude of tenacity, focus, and good sportsmanship.
The SUPcross is open to people of all ages and abilities. Attending/participating in this event is a great way to be on the forefront of a new, exciting emerging SUP race format. The fun starts on Friday, June 29 with onsite registration open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Friday, June 29. Paddlers will have an opportunity to play around and practice on the closed course and total newbies can purchase an Intro to SUP class with Lisa G from Marina PaddleFit. Young will also be teaching paddleboard rescues and board tows and the kids how to train for a closed course race in their home area.
“We will be there to serve the community, offer our resources, and help out in any way we can,” Young says.
SUPCross divisions include Amateur, Juniors Open, Legends, Women, Open, Pro Juniors, Pro-Am Women, and Pro-Am. Round 1 of the first stop of the National SUPcross Tour starts at 7 a.m. Each competitor may race in up to three heats, with the top finishers advancing to the semi-finals and finals. The top three overall winners in the Pro-Am division will receive cash prizes in the amounts of $1000, $500 and $250. After the SUPcross, the race organizers will be hosting an after party with Hydroflight demos and fireworks. The weekend will end with the US Open of Watercross to be held at the Sparks Marina on Sunday, July 1.
“It’s awesome that we as a paddling community can connect with the moto community. Sparks has been a part of the national tour for pro watercross for a while and the marina is great for its accessibility and location,” Young says.
For more information about Round 1 of the National SUPcross Tour being held at the Sparks Marina on Saturday, June 29, visit www.prowatercross.com.