Boat wakes and draft trains

We came across some nice drone shots from last weekends SUP Race in Italy. It was an ICF qualifier. (Thank you Chrisitan Taucher @chrisdiver) We posted a few videos and pictures but then a video surfaced that raised some eyebrows.

If you look at this video and you are a SUP Racer or somebody that is covering races you are watching this in complete disbelieve.


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In this video we are seeing a draft train taken over by a small boat. At the speed the boat is going it is creating quite a bit of a wake in an otherwise glassy lake.

Then the boat slows down pretty much in front of the leader of the draft train. Obviously the paddler is taking full advantage catching the third wake pulling away from his followers. Some of them are able to catch up and at least three paddlers are petty much pulled along by the boat.

We watched this video a few times and asked Chris Taucher if there was no major drama after with massive complaints. He told us that there were complaints but that it was during the inflatable race.

So far the situation.

The first reaction off course was that if this would have been a pro race the implications would have been much more severe. On the second thought however one could not help but wonder, what the heck was the captain for this boat doing.

Regardless of pro or not, everybody deserves a fair race.

Boat wakes – A sensitive topic

Boat wakes and SUP Races don’t go well together. We often have cases where boats unwillingly help paddlers. Event at ocean races where we often have choppy waters paddlers are able to capitalize on boat wakes. We remember once, many years ago at the M2O we had a situation at the final stretch where Travis Grant was able to capitalize on a boat wake. Team Baxter filed a protest. At the ICE Race in Thun the follow-boat at the long distance race created a wake and involuntarily pulled the leading pack further and further from the rest.

These kind of situations are mostly minor cases and disputes are getting solved on the spot as most of the time the outcome of the race is not considerably jeopardized. The scenario in the video above is on a whole other level, we can guess if this would have been the pro class rather than the recreational one, we would have had a full blown shit storm on our hands.

Rules for boats

International organizations, race organizers and other rule creating bodies must come up with clear rules and guide lines. SUP is only getting more competitive and with more and more races having good price money to get the best of the best to participate we can’t have a boat interfering with the outcome of a race. Regardless if we are looking at the recreational class or an elite class, we cant have races decided by boat wakes anymore.

The media dilemma

We as media like to follow the races closely. Commentators are often on boats, but have to stay far away from the action. With the paddlers far away from the camera it tends to become boring for the spectators. In fact this is the case with all long distance races, they are just not as exciting as the short and fast Tech. races thus not offering good content for media production. The boat wake situation is not helping either.

Regardless, if this sport wants to grow up and we have big international federations such as the ICF involved with possible Olympic hopes the outcome of a flat water SUP race can’t be tilted one way or the other by a boat wake.