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Looking ahead to 2023

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

With the 2022 season at a close, we can look back on a successful year organising our National Series and our National Championships, so it's time to start looking ahead to 2023. Over the next few months, our time will be spent coordinating our competition dates, reviewing rules and regulations, and designing and organising the materials we need, such as medals for our events.

Our 2023 National Series & Championship Plans

For 2023 we are looking to establish a new streamlined configuration for our National Series and Championship. This year has taught us a few lessons and confirmed some of our theories. We can now feel confident about our implementation across 2023. These changes will include redefining our event formats, adding further standardisation, plus redefining our board and paddler age categories.

National Championships

This year our National Championship took a step towards a singular championship across our disciplines. There was an opportunity for competitors to compete in Distance and Sprint championships and for the combined overall champions in Men's and Ladies' fleets. Congratulations to our winners, Hector Jessell and Natalie Cant, taking the overall Men's and Ladies, respectively.

2023 will return bigger than ever as we bring our Technical format into a two-day event alongside Distance and Sprint competitions.

Event Formats

Firstly our Distance Series will now become a Flat Water Distance Series. The event criteria are these events must be held at 'inland' locations. We will also push the recommended distances up to 12 -16km in length as we look to bridge the gap between our home events and those at international standards. We will continue with a shorter Challenge option for those new to racing, with distances around 6 - 8km recommended.

The Tech Series will be a complete Ocean Tech Series emphasising challenging our paddlers in open water conditions. Depending on our event criteria, these events will include at least two races across a single or two-day format. These events will consist of a shorter Tech Race of around 4 - 6km and a longer Hybrid-Tech race of 6 - 8km as standard. The Tech Race will include multiple laps with transitions or critical turns, and the Hybrid-Tech format will include a distance element to the course layout. Our two-day events will also include a new beach Sprint event making for an exciting and fast-paced addition to our series.

Board & Age Categories

2023 will see a significant change to the board and age categories not seen since the initial UKSUP series conception back in 2014. GBSUP has always tried to support our UK market primarily. Still, we must also consider the viability of running multiple categories and age groups and the rulings around these to ensure the sustainability of our operation. We will cover more details on the new categories in a follow-up blog, but to give you an overview, here is our proposed new structure for 2023.

Board Categories

  • Race Fleets

    • Hardboard Up To 14'

    • iSUP Up To 14.'

  • Nisco

    • One Design Category using the Naish Nisco board

  • Prone

    • Open to any board type/length

  • Challenge Tour

    • Open to any board type/length

Paddler Age Groups

  • Race Fleets (Up To 14' Categories Only)

    • Juniors 12 -17

    • Open* 18 - 29

    • Seniors 30 - 39

    • Masters 40 - 49

    • Veterans 50 - 59

    • Grand Kahunas 60+

  • Nisco

    • Open to any age 12+

  • Prone

    • Open to any age 12+

  • Challenge Tour

    • Open to any age 12+

*Any paddler may choose to enter the Open Age Group.

How will event entry work?

For 2023, paddlers will enter their chosen Board Category first. This will set your competitive class for the event. If you choose the Nisco, Prone or Challenge categories, you will compete in a mass event with paddlers of all ages and abilities.

If you enter the Up To 14' iSUP or Hardboard categories, you must also choose your Age Group. Note there will be no overall placings for 2023, with paddlers instead competing in their age group for the Up To 14' fleets.

The Open Age Group

Our flagship Age Group is the Open which, as the name suggests, is open to all ages. Paddlers who wish to compete against each other for top honours as our fastest paddlers should enter the Open Age Group.

The Open Age Group also allows us to have a single entry category for specific requirements, such as International Selection events or wildcard entries, to ensure fair competition and results.

An example is the APP wildcard entries we ran for 2022, with the top two paddlers in our overall Distance Series being offered the wildcard entry to London. In 2022 we took the results from the 14' category, which automatically omitted our other categories, such as the 12'6" fleet.

For 2023 if we are to run the APP wildcard again, a paddler must enter the Up To 14' Hardboard and Open Age Group category to be eligible for the wildcard entry. The same goes for ISA or ICF selection. We will use the Open Age Group to match the criteria set by the relevant external body/selection requirements and create a fair competitive scenario for respective selection (see further information on our International Selection goals later in this blog).

The Open Age Group will also be the 18 - 29 age group by default. For individual events, the top 3 placings will be formed from the results on the day as per the first paddlers over the line who entered the Open Age Group. However, the series standings will remove out-of-age group paddlers from the standings to ensure the 18 - 29 paddlers are placed correctly for their age group. This means that any paddler entering the Open Age Group who is not between 18 - 29 will be omitting themselves from the final series standings.

Regional Series & Grassroutes Support

Following on from our initial pilots in our Regional Model across 2022, we are expanding our offering to support more regional series and organisations getting into SUP racing for the first time. This comes in the form of a 'Sanctioned Event' pack and 'Regional Series Support' services, through which GBSUP can offer alignment to our racing formats, support those new to running events and help coordinate regional series for novice and experienced paddlers alike. These offerings will include shorter distances across the same standardised race formats to fit alongside our new National Level model. We will continue with our current divisional model across our regional events for 2023.


After the WSA Junior Clinics and Race's success at our events this year, we are looking to continue and expand our Junior racing development support into 2023. The WSA alignment will continue, with the clinics and races returning to suitable events. Alongside this, we are developing a 'Junior Racing Support' model, much like our regional initiatives, to bring a level of standardisation and support to organisations looking to build up their Junior programs.

International Collaboration

This year, GBSUP spent time working with British Canoeing, England Surfing, British Surfing and BSUPA, as we were asked to step up and help run some international team event selection events. The outcome was the selection of national teams and individuals for the ISA and ICF International Events. As some will know, the events went off without a hitch. Still, due to last minutes changes by some of the international organisers, the outcome of these selections has not gone smoothly or to plan.

Over the past year, to help our understanding and gain new insights, we have spoken to several other international teams, including the Suisse, Italian and Spanish teams, to see how they have organised and taken control of the selection process. But our conversations with them didn't stop there. We spoke to them in depth about junior development, race organisation and much more, all of which we have taken onboard and will be considering as part of future GBSUP initiatives.

International Selection Events

As always, we are trying to help grow and support the UK's SUP racing community through several initiatives and plans delivered throughout the year. For 2023, we aim to be bolder than before. Two of our events will be expanded next year, making them multi-day competitions covering our 3 disciplines of Sprint, Distance and Tech events. We will offer these events to the relevant UK selection bodies (ICF & ISA) as events that can be used within their selection process.

Note - at this time, we do not yet have any international selection agreements in place. While we anticipate being in this position again in 2023, our decisions around our proposed Board and Age Group changes are not aligned with any specific body. Our intention is to give us the flexibility to match any respective criteria in the fairest way possible through the use of our Open Age Group category. Details on any international selection or wildcard scenarios will be communicated at the appropriate time.

Signing off 2022

Our ultimate goal is to build our complete offering to a level where we can attract bigger sponsors whilst supporting the UK SUP Racing scene. We will shortly send out our 2022 Paddler Survey, allowing you to input your thoughts to GBSUP and help us understand what makes our racing community tick.

We will also be setting up a request form for our 202 series winners so they can request postage of their respective trophies. Please keep an eye out for this being communicated once ready.

GBSUP is here to support everyone in the SUP community, from grassroots to international racing.

If you wish to contact us about anything above, please email us at

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