When surfing was added to the Olympic roster, reactions were mixed. Most of the athletes on the tour expressed their approval in one way or another. The WSL hopped on board, and the International Surfing Association, of course, was ecstatic. It’s not just surfing they represent, either. They consider themselves the Olympic-level governing body of stand-up paddling. But things got a little sticky when it comes to who gets to claim the role of stand-up paddling’s keeper. So sticky, in fact, that it’s become a matter for the courts. So who wants it? The International Canoe Federation.
It’s a weird situation–what, exactly IS stand-up paddling? Sure, on waves it’s surfing. But what about flat water? Both the ISA and the ICF want to control the sport, and both have valid reasons for why they should. It’ll be decided by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in an upcoming mediation.
“Especially on flat water, propulsion using a paddle is basically canoeing,” said Simon Toulson to The New York Times. “Standing up or sitting down is irrelevant.” Toulson is the secretary general of the canoeing federation.
According to Toulson, there’s the potential for mediation to go from friendly to not-so-friendly since their attempts at a compromise haven’t worked. “We are mainly flat water,” he said. “Surfing at the beach is not our area. “So far the compromises have not been accepted. They don’t want to concede it in the flat-water areas. That’s where the dispute will start to get heated.”
For the last few years, the ISA, under the leadership of President Fernando Aguerre, has been thought of–by most, at least–as the governing body of SUP. “The I.S.A. welcomes the opportunity to put forward our position as the historical rightful custodian of S.U.P. that can continue to best ensure the development of the sport and work in the interest of all S.U.P. athletes worldwide,” Aguerre said in a statement. “Under the guidance of the I.S.A. for many years, both S.U.P. surfing and racing disciplines have grown in popularity and professionalism.”