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TRENDS 2012 With the infancy of the SUP market,


telling statistics have been scarce, but as data trickles in, early numbers indicate an upward trend. Te Leisure Trends Group reported that SUP boards outsold canoes nearly two to one in July 2011. Te Outdoor Industry Association began tracking SUP in 2010 as a part of their annual Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, showing that 1.05 million people in America got on a SUP board last year. Tat’s equal to about 60 percent of the population who paddled a whitewater kayak. Follow-up studies in coming years will reveal whether the pattern is really one of growth, rejecting or propping up the hearsay. Partner, designer and shaper at SUP


industry pioneer C4 Waterman, Dave Parmenter says his community sees things differently. “Tere was never a doubt for the key players in Hawaii that SUP was here to stay,” he points out. “It’s really a cultural gap that exists between Hawaii and the rest of the world.” Since its appearance in the main-


stream, SUP equipment has been evolv- ing with more models and different de- signs popping up each season. “Standup boards are becoming more specialized, but mostly from a marketing angle,” Par- menter says. With the introduction of any new


sport or established niche sport to a much wider audience, the market tends to be- come flooded with alleged innovations as manufacturers jump on the bandwagon hoping to differentiate their products and get their piece of the pie. “Tis growth is not sustainable and


there will be a brutal culling of the herd soon,” warns Parmenter. “Te same thing happened during similar growth bubbles in surfboards, sailboards and sit-on-top kayaks.” In the future, Parmenter predicts com-


panies will cluster around one of the twin poles of market realities—price-point or prestige brands. “Tose in the middle will get it in the neck.” So if SUP isn’t a passing fad and there is


a growing bubble spurring a glut of board and accessory manufacturers, where will the steady flow of paddlers come from to fuel this segment of the industry? “Te sheer numbers and sales are currently made up of former non-paddlers and non-surfers,” Parmenter says. “Tey are people who have heard about the fitness benefits and are charmed by the simplic- ity and surf cachet of the new sport.”


38 Annual 2012


THERE WAS NEVER A DOUBT FOR THE KEY PLAYERS IN HAWAII THAT SUP


WAS HERE TO STAY” —DAVE PARMENTER, C4 WATERMAN


I


If you roll your eyes and balk at the SUP craze, there are developments happening elsewhere in paddles- ports. Tere’s just less pomp and


circumstance surrounding the headway be- ing made. And probably for good reason— lately, advancements have been incremental not monumental. Sue Rechner, CEO of Confluence Watersports, the company that owns Wilderness Systems, Dagger, Per- ception and WaveSport, is careful not to undervalue moderate progress. “Evolution will always be less attention grabbing than revolution,” she says. “But innovation under any definition is important to ensure the in- dustry continues to engage consumers and attract new participants.” Brian Day of the Pyranha Mouldings


family of brands, including Pyranha, P&H and Feelfree, puts the current state of the market into perspective. “SUP is dynamic right now because people are trying to figure out what it is going to be,” he says. “White- water, touring kayaks, sit-on-tops—these are established product niches in a mature market so they are somewhat less dynamic.” Rechner agrees, “You can’t compare exist-


ing and popularized paddlesports to a brand new concept that will obviously garner lots of attention.” At the same time, it’s easy to be disappointed that there have been no earth-shattering innovations like the plan- ing hull, short boats or bent-shaft paddles to stir things up in the now-traditional paddle- sports marketplace. Tese revolutions get people excited and breath life into the sport. But these moments happen in cycles, and thankfully so. In between groundbreaking paradigm


shifts comes the opportunity to hone de- signs. “I think that all innovation is about evolv-


ing existing forms into better designs,” says Day. “You have to focus on what you know.” Designers continue to play with volume


distribution and seat height and position in order to get the most out of the performance possibilities of the whitewater planing hull.


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