The beginning of the stand up paddle surfing explosion


I asked Todd Bradley over at C4 Waterman for some pictures from when Dave Parmenter, Brian Keaulana and Todd were building the first stand up paddle surf boards.

Todd Bradley, Mike Fox and Brian Keaulana - Founders of C4 Waterman

 (Picture from left: Todd Bradley, Mike Fox and Brian Keaulana)

I thought it would be cool to see into the past. We got into a discussion on the roots for the explosion of stand up paddle surfing.

Q: When did you guys shape your first stand up paddle surfboard?

A: The very 1st Short SUB’s was abt Dec 2002 or Jan 03 when Dave Parmenter built the 1st 10′0″ ’s it was that following March that Brian Keaulana Surfed it in the Buffalo contest, and loaned it out to all kine guys. Brian was the 1st person to organize a SUP surf event. Buff 2002.
1st Buff was 15 guys, 2nd 32, 3rd 48 4th 75, and now its nuts!!

We then introduced the SUP event format at the Noosa event 2/06 and the publicity from this and the recent 07 Stienlager Series that we persuaded organizers to allow us to have a division in combined with the PR that we have generated with all these events combined over the years has spawned a plethora of SUP events around the world, this summer .

(Pictures of Todd shaping a stand up paddle surfboard blank with a chain saw)

Stand up paddle surfing blank

Stand up paddle surfboard being shaped with a chainsaw

Q: When did you know stand up paddle surfing was going to be big?

A: It was those 1st 10′ built for Brain and then for me, combined with the international exposure from the Buff event that this sport turned the corner and became at High performance sport.

Q: What happened next?

Dave Parmenter, Brian Keaulana & I [Todd Bradley] then began our adventure to fine tune and create more designs that are now copied and replicated around the world . Dave is the only shaper in the SUP industry that has the shaping pedigree. He’s a former top pro surfer and has one of the highest performing stand up paddle surfing abilities in the industry today. Combine that with his home in Makaha , the best testing grounds in the world for testing these shapes with Brian. C4 designs come from the “Core of the sport”

Q: When was the first ocean race?

A: The 1st ocean race was organized by me and was the summer of 2005, Brian & I convinced paddleboard race organizers to allow us to have our own division but we had to put up the prizes and our own trophies.. for the Hennisey and “Choose Your Weapon” races . There were 6 of us in the race Bonga Perkins, Dave Parmenter, Todd Bradley, Brian Keaulana, Kamaki Worthington, Archie Kalepa. Race organizers didn’t really acknowledge much but we were stoked. It was that same year that Brian Keaulana & I also convinced Quiksilver Molokai Race organizers to allow us to have a division for stand up paddling. Again, we had to fund the Prizes and trophies ourselves . 1st race was Archie (Solo) 1st ever. Other in the race as teams Brian & Todd, Dave & Bonga, and 2 gals from Maui . The rest was history as the events grew for SUP in Paddleboard racing and this is the 1st year it has been added in most paddleboard races in Hawaii and around the world. Attached are pics of me cutting out the blanks for the 1st even built SUP racers. had to use a chainsaw to get the 1st cuts . that was a fun time.

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3 Responses to “The beginning of the stand up paddle surfing explosion”

  1. JP 1JP

    I went to the San Diego ASR tradeshow last weekend and there were a ton of SUP booths. I was shocked at how terrible most of them looked. In my opinion it doesn’t bode well for the evolution of the sport if the more hokey companies flood the market. Most of the stuff looked like crap you would see at Wal*Mart or something. I thought the nicest looking SUPs were in the Hobie booth.

    When I was a kid my friends and I did SUP on old sailboards with canoe paddles, that was fun.

  2. Bill Ward 2Bill Ward

    JP-I have not worked at those trade shows in years, but I heard the same thing from a NUMBER of concerned people. I heard it was absurd how many new faces where jumping on the SUP bandwagon.

    The good new is that this amazing Hawaiian born sport is being discovered, appreciated and practiced by people all over the world. I can only think that the Duke and Bobby Ah Choy are smiling from above as they see how much joy and good health it brings to so many people.

    The sad news is that where there is this kind of stoke, there is also some greedy SOB’s out to make money from it with little regard for quality, respect or tradition. That comment is certainly NOT directed at those at the forefront of this growing sport, like the good folks at C4, Blane Chambers, Sean O, JL and a few others. The difference between their products and the fly by night-gotta make a fast buck at the ASR trade shows are obvious to everyone.

    Our only recourse (as SUP surfers, environmentalists and yes, consumers) is to educate ourselves on who is making quality products and following and respecting tradition and fully support them.

  3. Evan Leong 3evan

    Thanks Bill. I agree that the local guys here in Hawaii are living and breathing the sport. I see guys like Blane Chambers, Todd Bradley, Brian Keaulana and Sean O ripping it up on their own equipment. I had an interesting discussion w/ Todd where we talked about the roots of not just SUP but water sports here in Hawaii like canoe paddling, surfing and others. It really comes down to the soul of this whole thing and that’s really attractive to a lot of people.

    When it comes to the actual product there are a lot of very small details that only the guys that do this all the time know about. That is evident in the stuff that works and the stuff that doesn’t. The cream will rise to the top.

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