American Canoe Association to Hold SUP Summit

ACA to hold SUP Summit in San Diego, California March 4th 9a-12p at Mission Bay Hyatt



SAN DIEGO, California – Since 1972, the ACA has been acknowledged as the primary source of paddlesports education and instruction in the United States as we have administered the National Paddlesports Instruction Program. Currently we have over 5,500 certified instructors in the U.S.  In addition, we have instructors in 22 countries worldwide.

We fully realize that the SUP discipline bridges both paddle and board sports and have made every effort to be cognizant of, and honor the history of SUP and surfing.

A brief history of the ACA's involvement with SUP education:
In 2008 and 2009, the ACA was asked by a range of user groups and individuals to begin to create a national SUP education curriculum.  After much discussion, we started a pilot program in 2010 through the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission in Charleston, SC.  Throughout that entire year, CCPRC staff taught the general public in weekly SUP courses in a wide range of venues, flatwater, moving water, tidal, surf, etc.  In conjunction with that effort, the ACA's volunteer Safety Education and Instruction Council (SEIC) created a Discipline Committee for SUP, with an open invitation for anyone to join and participate in the development of the Level 1 and Level 2 SUP curriculum.  The focus was on beginner instruction in calm venues.  Literally overnight, the SUP Discipline Committee had close to forty people on it, from coast to coast and with expertise in various aspects of SUP.  In January of 2011, the ACA launched our Level 1 and Level 2 SUP Instructor Certification program.  Throughout the year, we hosted, with local Instructor Trainers and other local organizations, 14 Instructor Certification Workshops in the U.S. and 1 in Europe.  116 individuals were certified as either a Level 1 or Level 2 Instructor.  Concurrently throughout 2011, the SUP Discipline Committee was working on two Level 3 courses, one for moving water/whitewater and the other for ocean surf.  We plan on having those approved at the March SEIC meeting and we will begin to roll them out shortly afterwards.  The Level 4 whitewater and ocean surf instructional courses are in the initial stages of being developed.

The ACA has an open process, and we encourage anyone, or any organization, who is interested in helping with the development of the curriculum to join the SUP Discipline Committee and help shape SUP education, from the surf break to river rapids to calm water.  The ACA structure, composed of volunteer discipline committees and the oversight of the volunteer SEIC is then supported by the ACA National Office staff.  Currently we have 3 full-time staff members in our Education and Instruction Department.    

The ACA's focus in regards to SUP is to provide a range of education and instruction resources to the entire SUP community, from the beginner to the expert.  However, the ACA has an open mind - open door policy in regards to allowing individuals or organizations to become involved with the development and revision process.  We have subject matter experts in certain areas and routinely gather the advice and insights of others.

In addition, the ACA is one of the primary entities that represents paddlers (SUP included) in national public policy issues like the US Army Corps of Engineers lifejacket wear policy on inland lakes, or the US Coast Guard vessel classification on federal waters, or with individual state Boating Law Administrators and policymakers who might want mandatory education or board registration.  Once again, although we have the state and federal government contacts, we need input from all SUP sectors to be able to effectively educate regulators on all aspects of this great sport.

The primary goal of the ACA in our SUP endeavor is to work with all interested entities to make the experience safe, and fun, for all those who SUP.

If you'd like to learn more, please join us at the SUP Summit in San Diego.  It's a free event, which will be part presentation and part open discussion on topics that affect us all, from the curriculum content, to the pro's and con's of leash and lifejacket wear, to the US Coast Guard's SUP vessel classification.  After the indoor component, we'll all take a quick paddle on Mission Bay.

Thank you for your time, energy, and commitment to improving Stand Up Paddleboarding for everyone.


Christopher Stec
Chief Operating Officer
ACA | Canoe - Kayak - SUP - Raft - Rescue


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