Editor’s Note on SUP Magazine’s 2019 Pacific Paddle Games Announcement

Today SUP Magazine is announcing it will not hold the 2019 Pacific Paddle Games (PPG).

Despite this decision to no longer produce the event, we are working closely with our sanctioning partner, the Association of Paddlesurf Professionals (APP), and California State Parks to ensure the future of this prestigious event, exploring options to bring it back in 2020. (more from the APP here, who plans to withdraw the PPG from its 2019 World Tour line-up — press release below).

This was a tough decision and heavy news to bear.

It was our honor to produce a season-capping, championship-level event. The Pacific Paddle Games was a gathering, a marketplace and a celebration for athletes from around the globe, for brands pushing our sport ahead, and for spectators alike to showcase and to unite the SUP community on a storied stage.

Operating an event at the scale of the PPG is no small task. There are serious hours logged and dollars committed to bring it to life. The stakeholder brands, within and closely aligned with the standup paddling industry, who helped present the PPG were the first to know and hear that this choice was not made lightly. It was a choice based on strategic changes at SUP Magazine and the Adventure Sports Network group (our parent company) following the recent sale to American Media, Inc.

That change in ownership will not alter your experience as a reader. As standup paddling’s title of record, crafting and curating the sport’s best editorial offerings, with inspiring stories, info and imagery from every end of the SUP world—that core offering remains unchanged. Maintaining “The Voice of Standup Paddling” is integral to our larger group of action-outdoor titles’ editorial strategy.

If anything, the new ownership should help amplify that voice as a well-resourced media organization poised for the long term, investing in the future of SUPthemag and equipping it for the challenges that lie ahead in paddlesports media production — and its only-increasing consumption digitally. (In the weeks to come, expect updates with how we can better share content and the stories from the SUP world to a broader audience, integrated in AMI’s Active Lifestyle Group, which includes Men’s Journal).

What does the larger future for SUP hold? It’s no secret that standup paddling as an outdoor industry segment is slowing down at best, and in decline at worst. You could measure that in reduced numbers of open class racers at last year’s PPG, but you wouldn’t guess that from the energy on the water, or from the level of elite competition. While the initial boom that fueled SUP’s rise may have subsided in North America, there are positive signs of sustained growth internationally. For anecdotal evidence, again, look no further than last year’s PPG, with the most internationally diverse roster to date, or perhaps you enjoyed the comments popping up from every paddling corner of the planet.

It’s necessary to broaden the view of that livecast, however, to what was happening off the water; the general public’s perception, and reception of the sport cannot be overlooked. Is there a waning desire for outdoor-fitness brands big and small wanting to align with standup paddling? I’ll leave that to smarter folks, but our decision factored the need to focus our resources on our own core offering. That is, to produce content first. The pivot away from event production as sole operator of the Pacific Paddle Games, means we are more committed to you – the reader. That translates to continued audience development and growth in digital, social, and video production, now with the broadened audience connected with our new partners.

We look forward to working with the APP to bring back the event in 2020. We know what Doheny State Beach represents, not only as hallowed ground with the event path first blazed by The Battle of the Paddle to elevate the sport in its fledgling years, but also as the home beach where our first fires were lit. (Ten years ago, we launched SUP Magazine exactly one mile away from Doheny in the gritty San Juan Capistrano office park home of Surfer magazine.)

And what we do know for certain with regard to the future of standup paddling is that this sport will never die. That fact is certain, much more so than how, in the years to come, how we will present and digest the most relevant and engaging story-based media, and on what channels. Those are rougher waters.

However, any paddler knows that the more challenging the conditions, the better the story. We’re as eager as ever to keep paddling ahead, to keep shaping that story, always reaching for the open water that lies ahead. — DAVE SHIVELY

March 20, 2019

Carlsbad, California: SUP Magazine is announcing it will not hold the 2019 Pacific Paddle Games (PPG).

Despite its decision to no longer produce the event, SUP Magazine is working with its sanctioning partner, the Association of Paddlesurf Professionals (APP), and California State Parks to explore options to bring PPG back in 2020.

As a result of this decision, the APP is reluctantly forced to withdraw the PPG from the line-up for the 2019 season. However, the APP World Tour is working closely with the new management of SUP Magazine to ensure its future and is committed to working on the return of this prestigious event for the 2020 season.

— See more on the Pacific Paddle Games, including highlights from a memorable 2018.

The article was originally published on Standup Paddling

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