After speaking to several of you recently, I decided to share some thoughts on SUP, the business, the sport, the politics, etc. I have recently gone through a period of “SUP Burnout.” As I have spoken with many of you about this lately, I discovered I wasn’t alone. In fact, those of you that weren’t going through some type of burnout, due to the sport, were in the minority. What I mean by “SUP Burnout” is when the drama, the politics, and the business side of SUP, get to the point where it starts to ruin your love for Stand Up Paddling.
In my case, I write these articles, reviews, and stories just because it’s something I enjoy. I don’t sell advertising on my site. I give it away freely, to people and companies I like and believe in. I am fortunate enough that I have a good job that provides for my family to the point, that I don’t really need a second income at this point. What I do with this site, is just for fun and for sharing the stoke with others. Even the revenue generated from the fin sales, usually just gets dumped back into the community, in the form of sponsoring racers/surfers, charities, etc. Even in a situation like mine though, it can get ugly from time to time.
Sometimes even when you are genuinely trying to do someone a favor, or help them out, they may get pissed off at you. Reviews are the toughest part. You can say 10 great things about someones product and only 1 thing you would like to see improved, and all they seem to see is the 1 negative. This happens almost every time I write a review. Let’s face it, there are no perfect products. Even the best board, paddles, and accessories could stand some level of improvement if people are really being honest with themselves. An example might be the weight of a board. Boards that are super light, are also usually prone to damage easier. They are also often made of Carbon Fiber, which means they are less tolerant to heat. Boards that are more durable, also tend to weigh more. Point any of those things out though and someone will be upset with you.
The problem arises when the “Business of SUP” gets in the way of the “Enjoyment of SUP.” Even when you try to do things the right way, and for the right reasons, drama will still find you. There will always be people that are unhappy with you for some reason. In some cases, people or companies, you dearly love will sometimes turn on you without you even seeing it coming. I have heard from several of you recently that you are in a similar situation. In some cases you are being pulled in multiple directions by your sponsors, or you find yourself “in the middle” of 2 companies/competitors, that have motives and objectives that may not always line up with yours. I have heard from a few of you that you have had to sever relationships or ties with one manufacturer, because a sponsor of yours has a relationship with another company. This sucks when it happens, especially when your heart is still with the original company. This is when friendships often get destroyed for the sake of business. Its sad, especially in our sport, which owes a lot of its growth to the premise of Ohana, and the Aloha Spirit.
Others of you have told me that the competition has gotten so fierce, you have had to train to the point where it has completely stripped away your love and enjoyment for paddling. In other cases, it’s just the pure drama of the “he said-she said” that happens sometimes. What this has resulted in for many of us, is “SUP Burnout.” I have been feeling it too this summer. The worst part is, over the last 2.5 years, SUP has been my escape from the problems and stresses of life. Lately though, SUP has been the source of a lot of those problems and stresses. I have learned one thing through this experience. Never let your Sanctuary become your source of stress. When you feel it coming, the best thing I have found to do, is just pull back. I was so busy with work, and keeping the site up, I was having almost no time left to paddle. Over the last few weeks, I have made it a priority to just Go Paddle! I have been trying to go 5 times a week. That is pretty challenging with my work and travel schedule, but it’s a goal worth chasing.
What I had to do to make this possible is change my mindset. In the past, I wouldn’t go paddling if I didn’t have a full hour or more to spare. It just didn’t seem worth it, when I figured in changing twice, loading up the board and paddle twice, having to shower again, etc. I have abandoned that line of thinking and started going even if I only have 30 minutes to spare. While I can’t do any distance paddling in 30 minutes, I can do 20 minutes of intervals, and 10 minutes of just sheer cruising and enjoying the water. It’s just enough time to get a sweat going, and get some endorphins pumping. When I get off the water, the stress is gone. Plus, I have lost 10 pounds over the last couple of weeks, because of it. In addition to the stress relief and weight loss benefits, just getting back to paddling for the last 3-4 weeks and forgetting everything else, has really rekindled my love for the sport.
The only piece of advice I can give, is to be watchful for this happening to you and make adjustments as needed. If you find this type of thing happening to you, just pull back. Take time off, spend it with friends and family, and just get back to paddling for fun. Forget the drama, and competition, and all the rest of it for a bit and just recharge. You won’t regret it. I realize for some this is not as easy as it is for others, but hopefully you get the point, and can make some type of adjustments to get back to a better place. I have always heard that most things in life are good in moderation. The flip side of that, is that even good things, when done to excess, can become bad. I feel this old piece of wisdom applies here too.