Ultimate Guide To Stand-Up Paddleboard Racing


If you are looking for the ultimate comprehensive guide to stand-up paddleboarding racing – look no further! This article will cover every aspect of SUP racing, like essential gear and excellent training strategies, finding top local races, and the best way to prepare for challenging long-distance events.


The ultimate guide to stand-up paddleboard racing includes info on how to get into SUP racing, a list of races in Florida, Molokai, an introduction to PaddleGuru, and prone paddleboard races in California. Excellent kayak races and long-distance race training programs for a competitive edge.


So, if you are interested in your local SUP racing scene, looking for the ultimate guide to improving your stand-up paddleboarding skills with a handy pre-race day checklist for long-distance events, including answers to common questions, and ready to up your game like a pro – read on!


How To Get Into SUP Racing

A significant difference exists between leisurely and SUP racing gear, mainly because the latter is built for speed. You will also need mandatory safety equipment to participate in all official races.


Here’s the lowdown on the gear you will need, including basic training techniques to practice if you are new to the thrilling prospect of stand-up paddleboarding races:

Essential SUP Racing Gear

Race board: even though you could technically race on a regular paddle board, they are not purposely designed for speed or agility. And they will not give you the competitive edge you need.


Thus, if you are shopping for some new racing kit, opt for a lightweight, narrow racing board with a water displacement underside that helps you glide through the water at top speeds.


A lightweight paddle: a paddle crafted from a durable carbon fiber shaft is your best option. However, ensure that the paddle’s size works with your stroke style and height for optimal performance.


Racing apparel: choose quick-drying clothes that will keep you comfortable on hot race days, like board shorts, leggings, and rash guards. Alternatively, consider a dry or wet suit to keep your body temperature consistent. Other essentials include a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.


SUP racing accessories: nice to have items include a GPS watch to track your performance when you are training and on the race day, and dry bags or waterproof containers to protect your stuff.

SUP Safety Gear

Like with all water sports, safety should always be your top priority, so with that said, you will need the following kit to compete in all SUP races:


  • Mandatory PDF: you will need to wear a personal flotation device at any race, so opt for one designed for paddling and gives you lots of freedom to move.
  • Coiled leash: select a brand that feels comfortable to stay connected to your paddleboard during a fall. The leash should also have a quick-release feature needed if you get entangled.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding Tips And Tricks

Before we delve into the most effective way to prepare for your first race, it’s essential to practice as much as possible.


So, paddle in all types of weather and water conditions (even upstream) or train with heavier paddles to prepare you for all eventualities.


Most importantly, devise a comprehensive pre-race workout plan with strength, flexibility, speed, and endurance exercises, with built-in recovery days to avoid potential injuries. But remember to take it easy and not push yourself too hard.


The Best SUP Training Techniques

Like any sport, your paddling technique is essential, so begin your training sessions by focusing on maintaining a proper, well-balanced stance with your feet placed hip distance apart, toes pointing forward, and softly bent knees.


To stay centered on the board, engage your core muscles as they are essential to maintain your balance, move your board, and provide stability and the power needed to up your paddling speed.


To maximize your strokes and cover greater distances quickly, keep your arms straight and ensure your paddle is always vertical when it first enters the water.


Once you have mastered those basic techniques, you are ready to practice drafting, which involves closely paddling behind another paddler to use their slipstream to your advantage.


It’s vital to test this drafting technique with a partner as you must figure out your optimal position and distance from your paddling buddy.


Finally, you will need to practice buoy turns which are technically one of the most challenging aspects of any race.


To master the fine art of buoy turns like a pro, paddle towards the buoy at a fast speed and then practice shifting your body weight toward the board’s interior rail, followed by a succession of quick short paddle strokes for a controlled and seamless turn.


SUP Races Near Me: Find The Best Events

The best part about SUP races is that they cater to all ability levels. Due to the sport’s increasing popularity, you are spoilt for choice with fun poker runs and night races, including open and flatwater races that are well organized.


Although, if you are starting out, look for PaddleGuru beginner-friendly races on inland lakes, as the water and weather conditions tend to be less volatile.


Alternatively, check race notifications at your nearest SUP shop, or ask your trainer and fellow paddlers about upcoming races in your area that cater to your current ability level.


However, once you’ve entered, ensure you are adequately prepared, especially if it is your first SUP race and nerves tend to kick in.


Make a checklist ahead of time as you will need the following:


  • Paddleboard (including your fins) and the paddle.
  • Safety gear like your Personal Floating Device (PFD) and leash.
  • Snacks, including a water bottle, to keep your energy levels up.
  • A hat, sunglasses, and sunblock.
  • Your mobile phone and dry bags.
  • Directions to the race event, including your registration fees (if you did not pay online).


Most importantly, arrive early at the race day location to attend the mandatory safety meetings, find out about any obstacles on the course, and meet your fellow competitors.


Top SUP Races In Florida 2023

Count yourself lucky if you live in Florida as there is a wide range of brilliant SUP races ranging from the Pompano Beach Sunshine SUP Series 2023 on June 3rd to the following  upcoming events, to name but a few:


Date Location Top SUP Florida Races
5/6/2023 Destin Paddle at the Park
1/7/2023 Palm Bay Paddle Sports League Winter Challenge
3/11/2023 Fort Pierce Treasure Coast Paddle Battle
12/2/2023 Sarasota Last Paddler Standing


Paddleguru Races: Everything You Need To Know

PaddleGuru is a one-stop shop for race organizers and athletes alike, as the entire race event is administered on their online platform.


It allows you to register online, make payments, time your race, check your results, and automatically tags photos of participants and posts on Facebook and your PaddleGuru profile.


The best part is that once you have competed in several PaddleGuru races, you can organize your own local race via their user-friendly online platform.


Prone Paddleboard Races In California: A Beginner’s Guide

Prone paddleboarding, or traditional paddleboarding, is the granddaddy of SUP. It is one of the oldest water sports in the world. It is still extremely popular in Hawaii, where it is an ancient practice.


Unlike SUP paddleboarding, where a single-blade paddle is used, with prone paddleboarding, you lie or kneel on the board and rely on your arms to navigate through the water.


Prone paddleboards are narrower than SUP boards to accommodate arm peddling with rounded edges for increased speed, including an elongated pointed tail and a fin.


If this traditional paddleboarding style piques your interest, and you are willing to invest in additional gear, check out the 7-mile-long Oceans Prone Race Series # 1, 2023, at Vista Del Mar.


If you are super fit and looking for a challenge, you can try kayaking, where you sit on a seat and use a double-bladed paddle, at the California River Quest ultra marathon on the Sacramento River.


Molokai Paddleboard Race

Paddling is an integral part of Hawaiian culture dating back to ancient Polynesians who used this primeval method to navigate the ocean for thousands of miles (without compasses, or GPSs, for that matter).


To that end, the Hawaii Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships honors the incredible accomplishments of their pioneering forefathers with the world’s most grueling stand-up or prone paddle race on July 30th.


If you are truly ready for the challenge of a lifetime and want to compete with paddleboard enthusiasts from all walks of life, ages, and countries, sign up as soon as possible, as there is a lengthy waiting list.


Long Distance Paddleboard Races: Tips And Strategies

If you are ready to tackle long-distance races, preparation is critical. Here are some pre-race strategies to give you a competitive edge.

Study The Racecourse Route

There’s nothing worse than unexpected curve balls on a race day, so attend all the pre-race day briefings, study the map, spot potential obstacles, and ideally practice the racecourse before the big day.

Keep A Close Eye On The Race Day Weather Conditions

Monitor weather forecasts, and check expected currents, tides, and temperatures to prepare for every eventuality. Especially if it can give you a competitive advantage over participants who need to be more organized or ready for the long-distance race day.

Prepare Yourself Physically With A Race Day Warm Up Session

To avoid potential injuries, and improve your race day performance, get your muscles warmed up with a few dynamic stretches and quick paddle sessions before the race kicks off.

Comply With Safety Regulations And Etiquette

Practice makes perfect, so keep safety at the forefront of your mind when you prepare for a long-distance race, including good sportsmanship by communicating with fellow paddlers and giving way to faster participants.

Listen To Your Body

Long-distance paddleboard races are physically challenging, so you must always listen to your body and know your limits. Thus, if you are feeling unwell, exhausted, or dizzy, seek assistance immediately, or take a break.


What Is The Fastest SUP Race Board?

While it is true that most paddleboarders will have their own answers to this question, the new 2023 Sprint is considered one of the fastest SUP race boards in the world.


The Sprint will give you a competitive edge on long-distance and flatwater racing events due to its thicker race board front end that seamlessly displaces water; thus, you can paddle faster without being slowed down by water wrapping.


Other excellent Sprint features include a comfortable standing cockpit with more space, stability, and control due to its dug-out rails and an optimized drainage system that offers 50% less weight and more speed.


Average Speed For A SUP Race: How Fast Can You Go?

Even though several factors have a bearing on your paddling speed, like the tides, and weather conditions, you can cover a mile in roughly 15-30 minutes at a leisurely pace.


That being said, one of the fastest SUP paddling speeds ever recorded is 9.34 mph. That monumental feat is clearly exceptional and not an average SUP racing speed.


Will Stand-Up Paddleboarding Be In The Olympics?

Although it is a complicated matter, SUP paddleboarding will likely be an Olympic sport at some stage.


While SUP may be part of the LA 2028 and the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games, nothing has been finalized yet.


The ISA advocated for the inclusion of SUP in the Paris 2024 Olympic games in August 2020. However, the ISA application to include SUP was regrettably too late to change the Paris sports program.


It’s surely only a matter of time before Stand-Up paddleboarding gets the Olympic Games recognition it so richly deserves!



It’s no wonder that stand-up paddleboard racing is such a globally popular sport, mainly because it caters to all ability levels and ages. And who knows, if you practice all our tried and tested stand-up paddleboard racing techniques in this ultimate guide, you may surprise yourself.

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