In Spring 2016 Casey and Ryan Higginbotham prone paddled 3.540 kilometers from southern Alaska to the Mexican border on the tip of California. Prone paddler kneel on their boards, which are similar to SUP race boards or rowing boats.
They paddle just with the power of their arms. This was a world record for longest distance prone paddling. „We were looking for adventure and wanted to raise awareness for coastal protection“, they said. It took the two California State Lifeguards seven months.
ISPO.com: Thinking about water sports, in the last few years new target groups have been addressed thanks to SUP. In which direction will this development head now?
Casey Higginbotham: I think the next trend could be in more people using them as a form of travel, i.e. multi day lake trips. Additionally more demos for kids, and race series for kids.
SUP with a Big Potential
A lot of brands and manufacturers are very creative, when they want to attract beginners (inflatables SUPs and SUP-surfboards, hybrids for SUP & windsurfing etc). Do you think, this potential is already used up, or will the hardware be even more versatile one day?
I think it would be narrow-minded to say it's used up, there's always another idea for the future of every sport, I mean it may be a stretch, but what about SUP physical therapy, or designing SUPs for handicap individuals, there are all these different opportunities for SUP.
Hydrofoil is Another Style
Will inflatable boards supersede solid boards (for SUP and SUP-Surfing) someday? Ordo you think this is only something for beginners and occasional users?
I think for the the recreational market they will, they're so much more convenient. That being said I don't see it expanding to the race/surf market as much given where the products are today, but with an experimental push in all directions, once an inflatable is on the level of a solid board there’s no reason why they wouldn't supersede the solid board.
Hydrofoil – why is this topic so interesting right now for a lot of water sport activities?
Hydrofoils offer another style of water activity, your off the water, no chop. The kite boards for example can be ridden in less wind than a typical kite board. They can ride solely off the bumps in the ocean. Once you understand how a hydrofoil moves, it is very easy.
Water Sport Is for Everyone
In your opinion how important is it, that famous brands from outside the sports industry invest in water sports? How do you see the development here?
It's crucial, it's another way to expand the market, they can reach far more people. It brings in a lot more sponsor money, if they can support a sport for a while. When Nike entered the surfing world in the mid 2000s, it brought in more money than it had ever been in professional surfing before. Even though those brands seem to move away quickly sometimes, in the short period it raised the awareness enough and their impact is still felt long after they’re gone.
Robby Naish says, the customer in the water sports segment is in a very good position, like no time before. Would you agree?
I agree, the range of equipment and population that is targeted currently has never been bigger. Anyone near any body of water can engage in water sports, which includes over 50 percent of our world population as mentioned before. For every customer, from beginner to expert there is a type of watersport and enough variety to keep experimenting and engaging as well.
Water Sports Goes Lifestyle
What do you think, will be the trend 2018 in the water sports sector?
I think it is about the lifestyle. It's just another branch opening up where a lifestyle topic can bring in more individuals who you wouldn't consider as your typical water sports athletes. Hardware of course will keep popping up, but a lifestyle push such as the "SUP camping" I think is great for retailers to pick up. This could be the next new trend. This is also because besides being able to promote the new board design, you will also be able to sell all the different accessories used when going "SUP camping". So many spots are accessible that way.
At the ISPO Water Sports Village all kinds of water sports are united, although the sports are pretty different from each other. Do you think there is something that characterizes all water sports lovers?
It has to be the passion for being in the water, it's the ocean/water in general that keeps people fired up and having fun. Everyone is so passionate about being in the water no matter what the reason is. Everybody loves being in the water, it's not just an "enthusiast" sport for people, it's absolutely a lifestyle.
Video: Water Sports Village at ISPO MUNICH 2017