Paddleboard Aloha and Ohana. Is it a thing of the past?

Global Partner

Standup Journal has been asked to share this open letter to the standup paddleboarding planet:

My name is Mike Dobbins. I’m from Orlando, Florida where I’ve been stand up paddling for a little over 6 years. I would like to share my thoughts based on observation of the growth of our sport, in the hope that this situation can gain more awareness and be stopped!

Please share your thoughts in the comments below so we can have a constructive open forum on this topic

A Letter to the Editor, By Mike Dobbins

Paddleboard Aloha and Ohana.
Is it a thing of the past?

“Aloha” and “Ohana” are two Hawaiian words used in the standup paddling world daily. Along with these words, the shaka is thrown a thousand times…A sign of friendship and compassion.

Has the next generation of paddlers forgotten the meaning of these words, or even been taught the meaning? The shaka sign seems to be no more than a photo prop anymore!

Most by now know of the poor sportsmanlike conduct displayed at the BOP 2014 this year, where the fight for 1st place was taken a bit too far.

What’s Happening?

Unfortunately it became the main topic of discussion or debate after the event. These are professional racers who have a strong following of up and coming racers.

I’m using the two professional racers who were involved to paint the picture. Why? Because this type of racing is becoming a problem and an every growing concern at races.

Every weekend we have races and events worldwide. For almost every event there is a new story of protest. This is becoming more and more popular and signs of poor sportsmanlike conduct are being accepted during the races.

Yes, most everyone on the water wants to finish first. And when titles and money are on the line they go hard! But at what cost? Stories of every man for himself mentalities include:

Dumping and running over paddlers on buoy turns

Paddle push offs on another’s board

Ramming racers in a draft repeatedly to the point of damaging others boards!

Throwing the rider off or out of rhythm should be an instant disqualification.

Yes rubbing is racing! It happens. However, sinking ones ship in the name of a draft is unacceptable. Where is the training for this coming from?

Who is teaching that these tactics are ok?

In years past, if a racer fell, the first thought was “ARE YOU OK?” Now its turning into “Here is my chance to make my move!”

Let your mind, body and strength be that power not the misfortune of your fellow racer. YES, I agree we want to win but I’ll say it again…At what cost?

Drafting out of board class or gender seems to be a problem of the past. No, it hasn’t stopped, but it seems harmless compared to this new generation of paddlers that are going out with a “It’s me against the world” mentality.

So many think this is the way to get recognized, get a board sponsor, or win the prize money

But at the end of the day you’re just a bully! Parents supporting such behavior is no better than a little league dad fighting the coach or another player. It’s getting out of control.

This style of racing isn’t going to get anyone anywhere but hurt. When this behavior is protested, it’s written off as nothing…Why?

I think mainly because the race directors are not used to this new Wild West race style and don’t know how to handle it. Who pays to have your board repaired or replaced? This is not why most of us got into racing and will only push new racers away. New guidelines and rules need to be implemented before someone gets injured!

How long before blows are thrown after a heated exchange on the water?

Does it need to come to this for change? We all know it’s happening and if you are the friend or parent of such a paddler, then it’s time to explain why we are here and what Ohana means. That super shaka in every picture is no better than the middle finger when you carry yourself like this!

To the next generation of standup paddleboard racers: Here is your chance to make a difference. Take the power and put it into training!

Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, peace, compassion and mercy

Aloha also has come to be used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello. “Aloha” is also included in the state nickname of Hawaii, the “Aloha State.”

“Ohana” means family (in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, adoptive or intentional). The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another.

The shaka sign, sometimes known as “hang loose,” is a gesture often associated with Hawaii and surf culture. It consists of extending the thumb and smallest finger while holding the three middle fingers curled, and gesturing in salutation while presenting the front or back of the hand; the hand may be rotated back and forth for emphasis. The shaka sign was adopted from local Hawaiian culture by visiting surfers in the 1960s, and its use has spread around the world.

-Mike Dobbins, Orlando, Florida

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