It's obvious the sport (in this country at least and possibly world wide) is dominated by participants in the 35+ age bracket. With talk of the explosion of SUP worldwide where are the juniors in Australia needed to develop and drive the sport into the future? With a couple of notable exceptions ie. Jake Jenson and Lincoln Dews challenging the old guard who else is coming through the ranks and what program's etc. will be needed for the sport to become established and not just a flash in the pan?
Don't get me wrong us old farts have a place in the sport and many of the best are over 40 but why is it kids aren't taking it up in droves? Is it the image the sport has, the cost of equipment, competition from other sports or just a lack of focus on juniors from the industry and the governing bodies?
I bought my 8 year old son a custom 9'6" Lahui Kai race board for Christmas. He loves coming to early morning training sessions with us old farts and is the envy of all his mates but will there be kids he can race against and paddle with in the future or will SUP go the way of kneeboarding or sailboarding in the late eighties and die from old age?
There's some work being done here in Vic on a SupGrom program.
I agree with you rager, possible problems may include, price of equipment, no support or possible interest in the youth development of SUP and it currently doesn't appeal to youth culture because it is seen as an older persons sport due to lack of marketing to the youth and lack of education.
I've taught heaps of kids under 18 how to SUP and they really enjoy it, but the above seems to be a major problem.
I'd be super keen to see a youth development program (more then happy to help) start up. It might happen one day.
Maybe part of the problem is transporting the boards. As someone who has to rely on other people to get my board to the beach i can tell you it's a pain plus i'm restricted to were other people want to go. I catch the bus to the beach and i see kids getting on with short boards or boogers who get to go wherever they want. Try getting on of these things around when you don't have a car and you might get some idea why young people don't take it up.[}:)]
My 2 Cents,
I think price is a big factor in getting the younger crew and/or the whole family into SUP. Transport of the boards to and from the beach is also an issue for the groms.
Groms can grab a shorty and put it under the arm and ride the bike to the beach, sup a different story.
I have taught heaps of crew both young and old to SUP at the local flat beach but when it's explained how much a board and paddle cost they go cold on it really quick.
Not sure about answers but cost is very prohibitive to outfit the whole family from talking to a range of punters.
^ and those camel packs are not cheap
Seriously tho,sure there are a few groms who's mum's or dad's sup into it but the groms don't think it cool just like longboardering so their into shortboarding, Marketing will help but your not going to get the numbers your chasing.
I'm not bagging sup just mhho.
2 things I can see, the cost, I bought my first short board for $8 that was the cost of a carton of beer back in the early 1970s, the cost of a carton of beer today is $45, try and pick up a secondhand sup & paddle for that price !
If I was young and fit and could get plenty of waves I would be riding a short board, I ride a sup so I can still catch as many waves as I did 40 years ago.
oh and in my family I was taught to measure the cost of things in cartons of beer.
my 11yr old son has been into surfing since he was 6 and sup for about a 2 years now. biggest issue is you have to pay $700-900 for a board they can use and not get pissed off trying to turn a 10foot boat. 8 ft tikki 26" wide lovin it when the waves are too small for shortboard. problem is once they hit teen age years peer pressure will take effect and i'm sure it then will be gay like every thing is, that every one else isn't doing. all i can hope for is the stoke is bigger than the crap he will get from his mates.
Everything you guys have said is true.
Just gotta remember the sport is still in its infancy. For something that didnt really exist a few years ago it is going great guns.
remember till there are more race the general public dont even know that there are events to compete in eg surfing, DW and BOP style races (and sprints).
A more important question would be, is there a central organisation driving the direction of SUP? And if so do they have a strategic plan for the ongoing growth and development of that sport. How might attracting junior participants factor into that growth? Does the sport even need junior development right now, after all Lawn Bowls for instance has thrived for many years while only starting to try to attract junior participants in the last few years.
This is an issue I see in many large organisations, right now there is no focused direction. There is a lot of good work in putting together comps, training and participating. But it is ad hoc, it is done with individuals or small groups best interest in mind and not currently aligned with an overall direction.
Maybe that's not even what the sport wants right now, maybe organic growth is still the best thing? But if we want the sport to become established and not a flash in the pan some careful planing would be worthwhile. This may or may not include junior development at this stage, but an assessment of the benefits of a number of different positions should be considered and a single approach adopted.
I think the sport has already grown to a level where it wont go away, but some consideration to where the sport wants to be in 5 or 10 years might be worthwhile in answering questions like yours D. Of course the next question is who puts their hand up to run with this???
I'm really only talking about SUP racing rather than kids getting into surf sup. I'd prefer my kids to ride short boards in the surf.
I'm not sure that SUP is uncool amongst kids, at least for pre teens anyway. Both my kids aged 8 & 11 have been invited to SUP birthday parties on Currumbin creek and at our recent training group Xmas day the half a dozen kids there wanted to race each other across the creek all day.
What I think are probably the key problems in getting kids on sups are lack of an entry point into the sport i.e. youth based program's and a lack of specific kids equipment. A scaled down 9'6" board and kids size paddle costs considerably less to produce than a 12'6" or 14' and a hell of a lot less than sports like motor cross and a mere fraction of my daughters ballet fees They are also a lot easier than a big wide adult size board to learn the necessary skills.
Adapt there is talk of developing a junior squad locally that I and my kids are eager to get involved with. My hope is that others in other areas might do the same so that potentially we will see some future champs coming through the ranks that can compete and push each other and the sport forward. If the Olympics are on the radar then junior participation will be paramount.
It's kids like Saxon getting into it that lead opinions with other kids.
Transport, cost etc etc. Does not seem to worry Clubbie Kids, Kayakers etc. Sure, unless you live near the beach you need some help but there are plenty of 2nd or 3rd gen surfers and paddlers.
It's the Connors and Kai's that will make it cool with the groms. That and cross over from the clubbie kids that are already used to surf, ocean and big craft. The too cool surf kids may resist at first but I reckon the surfer vs clubbie thing is less than before, it has to be; the surf clubs are the best places to eat and drink
Nice board rager he must be stoked with it
Just needs to be added to an elective in some schools PBC would be obvious right next to the creek , Coomera way have a few schools near the river and rowing course , varsity ect.Blow up boards may be an option to reduce costs. If i was a retailer i would be going to schools to have a chat.