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SUP – New Sport Trend during COVID-19 in Phuket

Trend is always vibrant and all about introducing new experience, developing and changing. SUP is now very popular, becomes a new sport trend during COVID-19 situation in Phuket.

Recently, Laguna Phuket in collaboration with Thailand Surfing Federation hosted the SUP competition “Laguna Thailand SUP Championship 2021”, to bring new watersport to Phuket held at Xana Beach Club, Bangtao Beach which ran from March 31 to April 4, 2021. The competition was the kickoff of a series of events “Laguna Phuket Revive 555 Festival” which combined sports, music, cultural and community events over three weekends, from March 31 to April 18, 2021 to offer a unique choice of activities and events, aimed to help provide a boost to Phuket’s economy and promote domestic tourism.

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SUP surfers were ready to go, the competition took place at Bangtao Beach.

As a local people and live in this area. I could not miss to arrange my day watching the competition. Packed the bag and grabbed my favorite Canon 5D3 Mark III together with EF 70-200mm telephoto lens to take the photos. Expected to get some good action shots of the athletes. The competition ran from morning until afternoon but I chose to go a little bit late around 10 AM – 11 AM, because I thought it was a proper time when the direction of the sunlight was getting right. This was very important for photo shooting! I went there on Saturday 3rd – Sunday 4th April at the same time. That day, the weather was great, clear sky over blue sea, soft waves despite the influence of the monsoon storm at that time which resulted having rain in many places over the past 2-3 days. The competitions were ranging from professional and amateur by which I saw many young age participants, couples and families attended the game. The race types are as follows:

Click here to see more cool action shots

  • Fun Race 6 km Open Division
  • Fun Race 6 km Age Group Division
  • Shadow Technical Race 6 km Open Division
  • Shadow Sprint 200 m Open Division
  • Shadow U16 Technical Race 6 km
  • Shadow U16 Sprint 200 m
  • Technical Race 8 km Open Division
  • Technical Race 8 km Age Group Division
  • Sprint 200 m
  • Men Team Relay 4 x 500 m
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SUP surfers were ready to go on shore.

About SUP

SUP, also known as Stand Up Paddling, is activity where people stand on a board and use a long paddle to move through the water. SUP is one of the fastest growing watersports over the last few year. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, SUP becomes new sport trend, the sport got huge talking in popularity, people started looking for new and safe activities or keep social distancing to avoid spending time in crowded places or in groups. Therefore, stand up paddling turned out to be the perfect activity for this!, with the added benefit of a full-body workout. And yes, it’s as fun and cool as you imagine for you and your family; which is probably why it is gaining so much attention across the country.

It is believed that Stand Up Paddle boarding has originated in Hawaii islands, where all board sports have started.

Bangtao Beach Aerial View
Aerial view of Bangtao Beach

Bangtao Beach is located in the west coast of Phuket island, a pristine beach known for its natural beauty, with white sand beach and a beautiful blue backdrop of the Andaman Sea. The perfect tides during March till April, were sure to draw the SUP surfers from all over Thailand to challenge the race.

Why Phuket?

The climate of Phuket is tropical, hot all year round, with a rainy season lasts from May to October (low season) and a dry season lasts from December to April (high season). Due to the influence of the southwest monsoon, nearly the end of March till April, there could possibly have a certain increase in showers and cause having stronger wind current that create some decent wave level. Waves are not huge but are great for beginners and competitions. This is an exciting moment for surfers to fight against the waves and push up the puddling skills.

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SUP athlete challenging waves.

When is the best time to play SUP in Phuket?

During the high season from November to April, the ocean remains more calm, the warm and clear waters surrounding Phuket are an excellent playground for SUP lovers.

However, for surfing season, the best is from May to October, which is the low season when the monsoon creates bigger waves and stronger winds. Between June to September, Phuket hosts annual surfing events on some of its beaches. The well-known spot is at Kata Beach where there’s always surfer community, board rental shops and a series of contests taking place.

Benefits of SUP

There are many reasons why stand-up paddle boarding is becoming so popular:

  • Easy to Learn
  • Fun for the entire family
  • Great exercise/change up to your normal workout
  • The new scenic vantage point you get while exploring the area by waterway

People describe stand up paddling as a relaxing activity which is healthy for your body and perfect to enjoy the beautiful nature at the same time. People can also carry their pets on these SUP boards while they sail, which is an additional advantage for many paddlers.

In conclusion

SUP is one of the new sport trends which is very fit to COVID-19 situation and great for Phuket in long term – where Phuket itself has a great benefit of natural beauty which is surrounded by the sea. Either East Coast or West Coast of Phuket island can be a wonderful playground for SUP lovers. The sport itself offers a great workout and fun activity among family and friends while also benefiting for physical distancing – to avoid crowded places or stay in groups.

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As the spread of COVID-19 pandemic hits Thai hospitality business, especially take a huge impact to Phuket’s tourism industry. Yet local operators and government sectors do their best to attract at local tourists from all over the country to revisit Phuket. Sport tourism might be one or another way to build up strong engagement between visitors/athletes and local community in a sustainable environment. Especially, the sport events can help generate and distribute income, local providers such as hotels & resorts, restaurants, entertainment, and attractions also benefit from the influx of tourists visiting the country and boosting the economy. Hosting sport competitions in Phuket is one of the great choice…

“Live in the Sunshine, Swim in the Sea, Drink the Wild Air”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson –