Nearly ten years ago, standup paddling was added to the Noosa Festival of Surfing. This year, however, it’s getting the boot. According to festival organizers, it’s time to get back to their roots.
The Noosa Festival of Surfing has been around for almost three decades. This coming year will be the 27th annual, and since its inception, it’s grown by leaps and bounds. What started off as a low-key beach party has now become one of the world’s biggest surfing events–last year saw more than 900 entrants–and one of the foremost celebrations of surfing culture.
It started off as a longboarding event, of course. Over the years, though, it changed to represent surf culture in general, adding finless surfing, bodysurfing, multi-discipline events, and even dogs, but, according to the website, “at its foundation, the love of longboarding has always remained.” So why the decision to get rid of the SUP event? Well, among other things, it’s just gotten too popular.
Last year alone, there were over a hundred SUP entrants. “There were a number of contributing factors that lead to the decision not to run SUP events at the Festival next March,” Sam Smith, the Festival Director, wrote in an email. “One of them being the extreme growth that the SUP Paddle events have seen over the last couple of years (yes, 150 paddlers in 2017), and that the Festival is unable to cater for the numbers. It now needs to be a stand-alone event.”
Apparently, a few of the event sponsors weren’t too happy with how the Noosa Festival of Surfing had changed over the years. “Feedback from sponsors and potential sponsors also contributed to the decision,” Smith continued. “Some long-term partners and new companies that we have been in discussions with were concerned about the path the event was on with SUPs dominating the early part of the week.”
Of course, the decision doesn’t sit well with some of the paddlers. One of them, Andrew Worling, told The Noosa News that he thinks thousands of tourism dollars will go down the drain. “I have just had to cancel my accommodation, which was to the value of $1600, of which I lost 30 percent, and I know many more who are now canceling theirs also,” he said. “Over 150 paddlers (raced) last year and this year that number would have been surpassed. As a paddler who has attended the last three years at Noosa Surf Festivals and stayed in your city, on average, four nights each time, I find this hard to digest.”
While festival organizers didn’t have an easy time making the decision, Sam Smith doesn’t necessarily agree about the loss of tourism dollars. “I am not concerned about the effect on tourism dollars the festival generates as it is an eight-day event that brings people to Noosa from around the globe, some of which stay for up to one month,” Smith wrote in an email. “The time that we have saved by not running SUP events we have been able to provide even more surfing divisions and cater for even more participants who are here for the week.”