The idea of renting boards for SUP races in not new. I remember back in the day when down wind race became a big thing on Maui there were more participants than boards. Before I owned a board, I rented every year. I had to reserve way in advance to make sure I get one. This was the only way I could participate in a race. Board logistics are a big thing in our sport, we all know the saga SUP Athletes have to live through to get their board to a destination.
Thanks to Union Paddlers you can be a SUP Athlete without having to travel with your board. You can now rent your favorite SUP raceboard on location. Another great advantage of SUP raceboard rentals is that it can drive participation rates up as new comers get to experience a race without having to buy a board.
Andrey Kraitor is one of the creators of Union Paddlers a professional board rental service. We had to know more about it and reached out to Andrey.
Hi Andrey can you explain to us how your concept works?
Hi Mike and the entire audience of the magazine.
First I want to thank you for your work and the passion with which you broadcast, these video interviews from the island, talking and thinking about our sport, for me as a user it is unique content.
Let’s get to our topic:
Union Paddlers – created by paddlers and for paddlers.
We are a team of three Olympians in canoeing, including an Olympic champion and World and European champions in canoeing and SUP, and years of experience experience in Olympic Canoe Sprint and Rowing by Sports-Camps.net.
Thanks to our experience in the paddling world, we know first-hand the main issues that prevent paddlers from performing at their best.
The service itself is a solution to major problems in the availability of premium equipment for competitions, logistics and full support to an individual or team in preparation through training camps and clinics.
We want to provide a platform where an athlete can search for a training group or a place to train, and a coach or a training center can offer their services.
How did you get the idea?
The idea is the solution to the problems I have had as an athlete and many other riders who travel to competitions from other continents or Asia and Eastern Europe.
In central Europe athletes can travel inland with their equipment, for others it becomes a challenge, regardless of the cost.
The same is true for the training centers and units, of which there are still very few. So the idea was born naturally.
Especially seeing the experience of Olympic rowing, which has changed the sport by expanding the geography of the competitions with the possibility of renting boats to Europeans in Asia and the rest of the world at competitions in Europe, we saw how the number of teams coming to the competitions is growing, just because they can get the equipment on the spot.
I believe that through the service we contribute to the development of the sport, our sport is commercial, and without government resources we can only grow with this barter, the industry and the users interacting.
What is the feedback from the SUP Community?
I will say that giving a board to such talents as Camron Trippney and Ollie Hoagton and seeing them start in Europe is our success, my joy as a sport fan. I marked these guys, because I’m really proud of them, but the feedback is positive. This is about the competition rent, but our big focus is about the partnership with the clubs and juniors, we offer an option of one year to rent of board, plus we give the same board to the client, at the competitions where we are present, this way the rider has a racing board at his spot and takes one at the races, and “travels light” we already work on this principle with the Greek Club AETOS from Theassaloniki, with young star Rea Logothetiand under coaching Stelios are happy that the athletes of Stelios have the option to practice on the premium boards.
Demand is growing, it depends on the scale of the competition, the World Cup is definitely a big demand, the other competitions so far less, but I think it’s a matter of time. The project is long term, the investment is great, I believe in the potential, it can work B2B.
So far we are working only with the individual paddler, I see that when we start working with the organizers, then everyone will benefit: the athlete – knowing the possibility of rental, the organizer – which will get a larger number of participants, and we have an expanded calendar, because logistics is very expensive, and unfortunately we can not afford to attend many competitions, if the request only 3-4 boards. Our resource is new and little known, and the support of the organizers will contribute, as well as our interview.
How does the process work and what boards can people get?
The process is very easy, we are in contact with the community and at every stage we are focused on providing services to customers , today in our fleet is all of Starboards, but we are will get another brands to provide options for choosing boards.
Choose a board and location. Travel light and paddle fast.
You are partner with the ICF, will there be board rentals in Thailand?
For Thailand we are still working on all requests even for single boards requests, we try to give solutions.
Available boards you can find at both web site :
sports-camps.net and unionpaddlers.com
If you have another request, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are also calling on all other brands as well: “If you wanna provide your boards for riders, let us make this connection.”
You can find all the events we will be at on our website:
- The Lake Rocks Festival – Austria
- SUP Race Festival Scharbeutz – Germany
- Nordhausen SUP Race – Germany
- Agios Nikolaos on SUP – Greece
- Baltic Skrea Beach Paddle Race – Sweden
- Corfu SUP Race – Greece
- ICF SUP World Championships – Thailand
If some organizers would like to have us at their event , just contact us and we find a way to serve and provide SUP SOLUTUONS and make our paddlers «travel light».
Thank you very much Andrey for all the details. I think this is a great idea. As I said in my intro the first 3 years of me being able doing down wind SUP Races was only because there were rentals available. Otherwise I could not have done it.