2022 Top Ranked SUP Races

We are always looking at which athlete is the best and the strongest over the course of the year. We are wondering at the end of the year who is the World Champion and ask ourselves which race athletes have to go to in order to be considered world champion?

The SUP World Rankings also has a system in place to rank races. We talked about it with the inventor Tibor Hasulyo in the beginning of 2022 (Interview with Tibor) but today we like to take a closer look about the ranking system for races.

The unique thing about this ranking system is that races are ranked after the fact and not up front. This creates some advantages and disadvantages we would like to analyze but first we have to take a look at what factors are going into the race ranking.

Number of participants: 30%

This of course makes sense because the bigger a race is the more important it becomes, this of course is not the only factor because one might think what about a big race with no pros? This is is also a factor.

Number of TOP ranked participants: 30%

You want top athletes at your race in order for it to become relevant in the chase for the world title. At this time the SWR indexes overall participation and the pro participation at the same level.

Price money: 15%

Top athletes need to make money to support their career. If you want the top guys to show up they need to get paid or at least the the chance to win price money that covers their cost plus some extra. The amount of price money naturally goes into this calculation as well. The more they pay the better the ranking and more top people show up.

Number of participating nations: 25%

Makes sense, if you have only one nation compete you might call it a national or regional race. We need athletes from all over and since we do have most SUP races in Europe for a race organizers to accomplish international participation should not be a problem.

Post race ranking advantages and disadvantages

The good thing about that system is, that only the racers decide what race is important. The only thing a race organizer can do is finding good sponsors for a big price purse to attract top athletes. Another advantage is that there is no organization that can give the race a ranking and claim for it to be important prior to the race without having the backing from the racers.

The disadvantage for the racers is that they have to trust that the races they choose are the right ones and will receive the ranking needed in order to give the athlete a better ranking. A bit of a communication amongst the athletes here would be helpful. It would be good for the athletes to start their own association to decide which race they like to sanction.

Pre-race ranking can sell

One thing to consider is that if you organize a tour you have the power to give out rankings before the race. If you tie a race into an overall ranking with a big tour win, you then can force more participants into a high ranked race due to an over all title. This position will give a tour organizer leverage over the race organizer with price money, possible media coverage and payment for the race to carry the stars and label of the tour.

Bottom line is: You can now start selling stars and your tour logo in advance regardless of who is showing up. Price money is key in this concept, if you offer big money the best will follow the call. Pros will draw the attention of the media and that creates value for the sponsors.

Lets have a look at the races in 2022 with the best ranking by this system.

ICF SUP World Championships Gdynia20*****Poland

The ICF in Poland was by far the race with the most participants, the most pros, one of the best price money and most international participation. We do not need to discuss or ask if this race was the most important SUP event of 2022. It was!

World SUP Festival Costa Blanca18.45*****Spain

This was another big event in 2022 with a very big participation and a very nice price purse. As part of the EURO Tour it attracted many top athletes. This race will once again attract many athletes in 2023 with a price purse of EUR 12K and with a EURO Tour ranking of 6 Stars prior to the race.

Nautic Paddle – Paris SUP Open18.1*****France

The Paris race attracts many paddlers, most of them in the recreational space. In the past years the APP Tour has incorporated themselves into the race and with that attracted more pro racers. In relevancy this race does not fall far behind in the Index number.

Gla Gla Race16.15****France

The Gla Gla Race is a very popular race since the beginning and people from all over go to the Lake of Ancey every year. We can see a significant gap in the index number which must stem from the price money factor. Regardless the price money it is a very popular race for recreational racers as well as some French and other European pros.

SUP 11-City Tour13.39***Netherlands

The SUP 11 City is a race that come a bit as a surprise this far up in the ranking. It is a novelty race that unfortunately attracts very few pro athletes and the price money can be neglected. How ever it is one of the oldest races in the SUP world and attracts a big number of recreational paddlers. However to find this race this far up given the factors above comes a bit as a surprise.

Ice Race Lake Thun12.99***Switzerland

This race had a big break through this year as part of the ICF SUP World Cup and a big turn out of pros and recreational paddlers alike. The ICE race scores only 0.4 Points behind the 11 City, we must assume this has to do with the big amount of recreational paddlers in Holland. This ranking might raise the question about the 30% / 30% factor in pro and over all participation. Maybe a 25 / 35 would make more sense?

Busan SUP Open APP World Tour12***South Korea

This APP Tour race also appears further up in the rankings than we would expect. The race had mostly Korean paddlers with a very small field of pros. On an international scale we at the Stand Up Magazin are ranking this race far less relevant than the SWR algorithms do. However, there must have been enough price money or participants for this race to score higher than the Carolina Cup.

Carolina Cup11.9***USA

The Carolina Cup is one of the biggest races in the world but on the score board by the SWR it falls 0.1 points behind the Busan SUP Race by the APP Tour. We do find this surprising and can only guess that this must have to do with the lack of international participation or price money.

Here are the rest of the SWR ranked races of 2022

Alicante SUP Open11.36***Spain
EUROSUP 202210.56**Denmark
APP London SUP Open10.55**Great Britain
Loopa SUP ICF World Cup10.37**Hungary
ISA World SUP & Paddleboard Championship10.26**Puerto Rico
Zavidovo SUP challenge10.08**Russia
Port Adriano SUP Race9.97**Spain
Vendée Gliss Event9.79**France
Saquarema Aloha Spirit Festival9.46**Brazil
Aloha Spirit Festival Angra Dos Reis9.42**Brazil
Gran Carrera del Mediterráneo SUP Race9.33**Spain
Agios Nikolaos on SUP9.07**Greece
Lyon Paddle Show Race8.79**France
SIC Gorge Challenge 20228.44**USA
The Lake Rocks Festival8.38**Austria
Madeira Island SUP Challenge8.36**Portugal
SUP the Creek 20228.34**Great Britain
APP World Tour Santa Monica8.3**USA
III SUP Challenge Cabo de Palos8.29**Spain
ICF World Cup Oklahoma8.24**USA
Nordhausen SUP Race8.1**Germany
Namur SUP Race8.05**Belgium


Numbers never lie, if you can work out an numeric / algorithmic system that ranks races and athletes then you can’t argue about it. The question now will be who do we carry this further. Can this be a foundation for a solid world ranking without dispute? Could be get athletes to agree to follow one tour and consolidate the pro races into a unified and marketable tour?

We do not need to look far, every sport has a tour spectators can follow and trust to see the best competing against each other. If spectators can trust they can follow a tour and see the same athletes compete in different venues and a following will be created. Now you have a story to sell, but consistency is key. As of right now we do not have international consistency in the sport so this ranking system is quantifying the performance of athletes and measures the relevancy of a race.

Just like the athletes performance, a relevancy of a race can change year by year. Lets filter out the races that remain relevant consistently.