International Surfski Paddling Association Launched

Thursday, 28 January 2010 09:12 | Written by  ISPA Press Release
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Following a unilateral declaration by the International Canoe Federation that they intend creating surfski World Series, concerned race organizers from all over the world came together in the last week to form the International Surfski Paddling Association.


An interim committee has been created comprising:

  • Dean Gardiner
  • Michele Eray
  • David Jensen
  • Rob Mousley (President)
  • Boyan Zlatarev
  • Jonathan Crowe
  • Dawid Mocke

“The committee’s first task has been to open communications with the ICF,” said Mousley.  “It appears that they took this action without consulting more than a few individuals in surfski and we are concerned that the people on the ICF working committee are neither representative, informed not involved enough in our sport to make appropriate decisions.”

The announcement of the ICF intentions came in their January newsletter.

“It took us all by surprise,” said Mousley.  “No-one had any idea that this had progressed beyond a concept.  No-one in surfski would have agreed with this without a great deal more consultation.  Although we’ve made repeated unsuccessful requests to the ICF for the information, we can’t tell what impact the ICF rules and regulations will have in terms of costs and additional bureaucratic processes.”

ICF Working Group

At the ICF, the various paddling disciplines are run by committees called “working groups” which comprise five members working under a chairman.  “It appears, although we cannot get confirmation of this,” said Mousley, “that the working groups are voted in by the 150 federations that fall under the ICF.

“The problem is that by far the majority of the canoeing federations have no knowledge whatsoever of surfski paddling.  So we could find ourselves with surfski being run by a group of individuals from landlocked countries.

“This is the biggest issue,” said Mousley.  “As Dean Gardiner has often pointed out, the races that work are driven by people with a passion for the sport.  Unless the working group comprises experienced individuals who know and love the sport, ICF are on a road to failure.”

Another issue raised by the ISPA is that of media rights.  “Given that the media rights for these races are the only asset that the sport has that is attractive to potential sponsors, it is crucial that we have a proper understanding of who would own what in the future.  It is our position that the races must retain their own rights.  Would ICF take these away?  We simply don’t know.

"Key to the current popularity of surfski racing is the fact that the average paddler can line up with the best in the world.  ICF World Cup sprint races limit the number of entries per country.  We need to ensure that this doesn't happen to surfski under an ICF regime."


“The committee believes that it could be beneficial to work with the ICF,” added Mousley.  “The problem is simply that we don’t have enough information to judge.  What exactly ARE the benefits of ICF?

“Possibly the very fact that we’ve had no formal governing body has made it difficult for the ICF to address the sport as a whole.  But with the formation of the ISPA, they now have a communications conduit.”

The ISPA has taken its first steps to address the situation and has been corresponding with the ICF Secretary General, Simon Toulson.

“The first exchanges have been a little fraught,” said Mousley.  “However, we hope that the ICF will in time understand that we do want to work with them and that we simply have the interests of the sport at heart.”

2010 ISPA World Series

The committee has also confirmed the races for the 2010 ISPA World Series.  The races are:

  • Perth Doctor (Aus): 16 January 2010
  • EuroChallenge (Spain ): 1 May 2010
  • Durban World Cup (South Africa ): 16 May 2010 (to be confirmed)
  • Mauritius Ocean Classic (Mauritius ): 24 May 2010
  • US Surfski Champs (San Francisco , USA ): 21 Aug 2010
  • Dragon Run (Hong Kong ): 27 Nov 2010
  • Dubai Shamaal (UAE): 2 Dec 2010

“Based on feedback from the paddlers; and given the situation with ICF, it was felt that the World Series system be simplified this year,” said Mousley.  “We’re working on a program to support the smaller races in a similar manner to the star ratings that were in force last year.”

Plenty of work to do

“We have a lot of work to do,” said Mousley.  “We have to get the ISPA properly registered, constituted.  Although we believe we have a good balance of the various stakeholders on the interim committee, we will be calling elections in the next few months to replace the interim committee with a properly elected one.

“We already have a web domain – – which will be up in the next week or two.  We have a draft constitution which will be circulated shortly.  We’re in the process of registering a legal entity.

“But we see this all as extremely positive.  Whatever happens with the ICF, we will at least have a (perhaps overdue) centralized body to represent and coordinate the sport.  We’re very grateful to the ICF for kicking us into gear!

“The support from the race organizers has been fantastic and we hope the rest of the surfski community will be behind us too.”

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