We protect the freedoms of the SUP community
About USTake Action
Getting Involved

What is at Risk?

Paddle boards as “vessels”

There is a movement among federal and state actors to classify stand up paddle boards as “vessels.”

Because paddle boarding is a relatively new and popular sport, a common misconception among law makers is that SUP is like kayaking and canoeing. Yet SUP shares more similarities with surfing—both paddle boards and surfboards are inherently buoyant and are not prone to the hazard of sinking as canoes and kayaks are.

Paddle boarding is one of the safest, if not the safest, water based recreational activities.

Mandating life jackets

Special interests are pressuring the Coast Guard to regulate stand up paddle boards in a one-size-fits-all manner that would require the use of life jackets in all circumstances.

The repercussions of such a classification would be to limit the freedom and mobility of SUPers by ignoring the obvious problems that are inherent in the use of life jackets while operating stand up paddleboards in ocean waters and potentially other bodies of water.

 Stand up for paddleboarding!  Stand up for safety!

About Us

Who We Are

FreeSUP grew out of a small group of similarly-minded stand up paddlers in Southern California who wanted to promote SUP and ensure SUP is preserved for future generations. Stand up paddle boarding is closely related to surfing. SUP is a silent sport or activity. It does not involve a motor, and it does not deliver the cheers of a crowd. The reward comes in the form of hard-won grace and moments of connection between the paddler and nature. A love of SUP demands participation in the cause to protect it.

Stand with FreeSUP to make sure that government regulators understand the flaws in the ill-advised proposals currently promoted by special interest groups.

What Drives Us

Our Mission

Our mission is to promote and preserve the lifestyle unique to stand up paddlers, particularly throughout the So Cal region. We promote the interests of stand up paddlers and future generations of stand up paddlers by lending a collective voice to SUP causes and concerns. Staying true to our members’ core values, FreeSUP strives to uphold and maintain the highest standards of ethics in accomplishing these goals.

What We Are Working On

Currently we are working to stop the special interest movement that is lobbying the local, state and federal agencies to impose unnecessary and unsafe life jacket regulations on SUP. By classifying the stand up paddleboard as a ”vessel,” many requirements could be put upon the SUP rider including: wearing a Coast Guard certified life jacket, carrying with you a whistle or noise device while on the board, and carrying a flashlight while out in the dark. These requirements are arbitrary, are likely to create a dangerous situation, and should be left up to the individual’s discretion depending on the individual’s circumstance.

There is no data to support the idea that SUP is as dangerous as other watersports such as kayaking and canoeing. In fact, the very minimal statistics presently available demonstrate SUP continues to be the safest water based activity, even though the number of people enjoying SUP has increased from year to year. We should not stand idle and allow the government to regulate a watersport that has been shown to be inherently safe. Concerning SUP, one Senior Coast Guard Regulatory Officer has explained: “We don’t have data that validates the utilization of the [life jackets].”

Available data suggests life jackets can increase SUP dangers. Indeed, the very reason surfers are not required to wear a life jacket is due to the significant threats to safety a life jacket presents. Former Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has brought this issue directly to the Coast Guard’s attention.

“The board riding community makes a good case that life jackets actually increase risk of injury.”

Former Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

letter to the former Coast Guard Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr


Get Invoved

Make a Call

You can make a difference. Join our efforts in bringing the inherent safety of SUP to the attention of the local, state and federal officials so we can avoid needless and unsafe regulations.

We recommend you contact the Coast Guard directly to make sure your voice is heard:

USCG Headquarters
(202) 372-4000

USCG District 11
(310) 521-4260

Spread the Word

Tell other paddle boarders In addition to contacting the Coast Guard, tell other paddle boarders about the threats facing our local SUP community. There’s no better way to make an impact than to become an active advocate yourself.

You can point out that there is a critical lack of data validating the use of life jackets for SUP, particularly when it comes to SUP in ocean waters. Be sure to note the financial motivation behind SUP life jacket regulations: life jacket manufacturers directly benefit from the proliferation of life jacket wear or carriage laws.

Canoe and kayak manufacturers know that the added cost of gear will deter people from the relatively new sport of SUP, and these manufacturers lobby for increased regulations as a way to compete with SUP manufacturers.

Contact Us

Start a FreeSUP Chapter in Your Area

Each state and region of this country has unique conditions for paddleboarding. Paddleboarders everywhere need to have a voice that will represent policy positions appropriate for their area. We want to encourage and support other like minded paddlers to start a FreeSUP chapter in your community.

Please contact our Executive Director using the form below to find how to start a FreeSUP chapter and this issues that may be impacting your ability to enjoy this fantastic sport.

Contact Us

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