Australian Sup Life Blog 5.0 - Paul Jones

Welcome to the next Australian Sup Life blog.

First of all I would just like to say a big Thankyou to everyone who has taken the time to check out what Australian Sup Life is all about. To everyone who has contributed their photos thank you so much, keep them coming! To all the legends I have interviewed to this point, thank you for the great reading content.

I was hoping to get this blog out and onto the internet before the 12 Towers event on the Gold Coast and again before scheduled Longboard Sup Revolution Bali event but life has thrown a few curve balls preventing such things, we do apologise, however we know you all understand. So this is the re edit if you will.

I have really been enjoying the process of starting Australian Sup Life, from building the website, setting up the socials, spending my hard earned on my camera and water housing set up, connecting with people through the love stand up paddle boarding from all walks of life, to refocusing and bringing the blog back to life.

There has been such a great response with now 224 followers on Instagram, over 90 subscribers to the website, 399 members on the Facebook group page, and some great responses on the Seabreeze posts and I only launched at the start of 2020.

The first of the blog series. Its probably noticeable that I have been interviewing Australian paddlers from the foundation of the sport, I feel it’s important to share the fundamental history of SUP in this country, I would love to cover it all, however I feel these important snippets are a great way to showcase a little of what has gone on over the past decade…

So from Sydney’s Northern Beaches via Margaret River via Newcastle on route to Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast to have a chat with Mr Paul Jones.

Cross stepping style master

I first came across Paul Jones at the Noosa festival of surfing in 2017, which just happened to be the last time stand up paddle boarding was a part of the festival.

I entered the opens (shortboard) and 10ft division of the surfing, however It was actually my first time competing in an open ocean distance race and B.O.P race, I remember Jonesy briefing the competitors with very clear and firm instructions like a general giving orders to his army, it was all very serious and the elite racers were ready for battle, I remember being extremely nervous and confused like a lot of first time racers, Jonesy was cool calm and collected and explained everything for a second time in which gave me a little more confidence, so many paddlers lined the starting position on the beach, then the countdown began… 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Go!

ASL - Hey Jonesy, Can you tell us about your involvement with the Noosa festival of surfing? The history and association of stand up paddling with the festival to SUP ultimately being outed by the festival?

PJ - NOOSA….. Would you like the uncensored version or the politically correct version?

Haha only joking! People might not know but SUP’s have been included at Noosa from the birth of our sport around 10 years ago. I took over the SUP side of things in 2013 mainly because it needed someone that knew about SUPing and what competitors needed in a cracking event, but my hard work and the sports success over the 4 years to build the event into the biggest in Australia was it’s own down fall, basically with out going into all the details and the long list of opinions, we got too big for the festival and the long boarders didn’t like it. The ironic thing is SUP’s are still the biggest event at the festival and over stages the long boarding event with the Dogsurfing (note 90% of competitors use SUP’s) hahaha.

ASL - What was your first SUP experience, what made you want to pursue stand up paddle boarding?

PJ - It would be roughly 10 years ago, Tully St John rang me up and said “Jonesy you have got to try this new sport its call SUP surfing, you use a paddle”.

I drove up to Noosa and when I saw this monster I nearly fell over, it was around 11ft and looked like a aircraft carrier! It was about lunch time and I raced down to the beach at Alex in messy 2 ft onshore surf, I couldn’t stand on the thing for any more than 5 seconds and fell over a thousand times, after about one hour I threw the bloody thing in the car and phoned Tully... “this sport is stupid you can have it back”... “ Hang in there Jonesy, take it out tomorrow morning when its glassy, trust me you’ll love it” .. The rest is history.

ASL - I’m a bit of a history buff, especially with SUP in Australia. Can you run us through a brief timeline of the stand up paddle history on the Sunshine Coast?

PJ - From my knowledge there was three people that started stand up Paddle boarding in Oz and all 3 lived in Noosa, so the Sunshine Coast is kind of the birth place of SUP in Australia.

(This will be argued of course) I’m very vague on the details but I believe Chris De Aboitiz went over to Hawaii and saw crew surfing with massive longboards and paddling back with paddles, he then came back to Noosa all buzzed up about this new sport he just witnessed and with the help from Woogie Marsh and Tully St John they started making the first surf SUP’s and race SUP’s in OZ.

Throwing buckets

ASL - Can you tell us about your local area from Surf breaks to downwind runs etc?

PJ - The Sunshine Coast is the second cousin to the Gold Coast in regards to epic waves and clean down wind runs, but I didn’t start SUPing to SUP 6 foot spitting barrels and fight the traffic when I’ve just done a 14km ocean DW run. YES we have average surf, it’s always around 1-3ft, can be soft and gutless and it just doesn’t get that big... Perfect for SUPing surf in my book! Our down wind runs are not the best with a lot of refraction coming off headlands, river mouths and an island called “Old Women” but because it isn’t ideal, its super fun and challenging, we have produced some off the best down wind paddlers on the planet!

Matt Nottage, Lincoln Dews, Woogie Marsh to name a few have all told me “If you can down wind the Sunny Coast you can down wind anywhere in the world and you will find it easy”.

ASL - I noticed you collaborated with Tully St John from Laguna Bay surfboards on some new NSP designs, can you tell us how the collaboration come about and the results of the collaboration?

PJ - I love working with guys like Dale Chapman, Alian Teurquetil and Tully, you can learn so much about the board you’re riding and it defiantly takes your surfing and racing to the next level. With all three guys I mainly just give my honest constructive criticism about the board they have designed or we sit down and chat about what has worked and hasn’t worked in the past to come up with new ideas of the future models and what the average punter can excel on. The board Tully is playing around with for NSP is a SLOG (SUP-LOG or a big boys longboard) we were going to show it off to the world at the Longboard Sup revolution Bali Cosmic event but unfortunately it was cancelled.

ASL - How and when did your relationship start with NSP?

PJ - About 2 years ago I hooked up with NSP but it feels like I’ve been with them for 10 years.

I know this will sound like sponsorship dribble but NSP are amazing! From day one I was a part of the family, rubbing shoulders with legends like Travis & T2. Having chats with master shapers and designers, being involved with which new team riders should come on board, getting phone calls from the head office about which layups I prefer for the next seasons boards and helping bring in new shapers to the NSP family.

ASL - 12 Towers, What a weekend! Can you share your perspective as a competitor that has also been a part of the organisational side of things with the Noosa festival of surfing.

PJ - Troy Pease is the “Ben Hur” of SUPing in Australia. The 12 towers event would be a nightmare event to organise and run, its on in Queensland’s cyclone season, the Gold Coast ocean from the Seaway to Snapper can be amazingly fickle from one day to the next, the event runs thought different council zones, Gold Coast paddle club politics at times is a bit challenging and a sport that is constantly changing from year to year. For Peasy to have this event running for 10 years! “GIVE THAT MAN A MEDAL” (P.S.) I’m very proud to say I’ve raced in all 9 events so far and can’t wait to celebrate the big 10 in 2021.

ASL - Unfortunately you had to make a last minute decision to cancel the Longboard Sup revolution Bali Cosmic weekend due to the current situation, we chatted via messenger, it was an extremely intense time, can you run through that snippet in time for the readers?

PJ - Covid-19 you suck! It was a hard decision at the time because it was the 2nd week of the virus being on the Australian governments radar and all the information from the experts was so unclear, Dale Chapman was ringing me up everyday telling me he’s freaking out and trying to give me all the facts and scenarios if we went. In the end it wasn’t worth it and I decided to pull the pin. A week later the whole world had shut down international non essential travel.

Pre Covid 19 nose ride

ASL - What are your thoughts on the Sup revolution movement, where do you see the movement heading?

PJ - I’ve been pretty out spoken about Longboard SUPing in the past and where it should head into the future.

Yes, over the years I have changed my views regarding the best way to move forward but a few times have always stayed 100%.

In my opinion these 4 things are crucial for the sport to succeed.

1. The 50\50 criteria needs to be adopted in every event, I have completed a criteria around two years ago which all stake holders have approved and adopted in most major events.

2. Judges need to read the criteria and adopt it and not be influenced by a surfers style.

3. Flow and a true blend of the criteria needs to be rewarded.

4. Make it fun for all ages and abilities.

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