Updated: Jan 5
Welcome to the first Australian Sup Life article.
I really hope to engage with the general SUP community, showcasing the passionate paddlers, shapers, shops, distributors, clubs, events and individuals from all walks of life and corners of Australian SUP scene mixed in with some high profile international paddlers.
First up we have 10 Questions with Andrew Cassidy, a true shredder and a humble pioneer of the sport in Australia.
1. Its’ a honour to have you open the blog series, tell us a little bit about how you first got into stand up paddling?
It was one of those clean, small winter days back in 2008. I had a day off work and wanted to hit the surf but it was even too small for my 5’8” fish. I’d seen some guys doing it in Hawaii a few months before and it looked like fun ... on the right day. I went down to my local surf shop and they were having a special on 11ft Oxbows. I couldn’t say no. The rest, as they say, is history – I was addicted.
2. I only recently got up to speed with the fact that you founded the Sydney SUP club at this years NSW state titles, Can you give the readers a timeline on the history of the club, the crew and some fond memories?
We’ve been going nearly ten years now. A brain child of Sam Parker, Andrew Allen, John Christensen and myself. I did the first four years as President which was a lot of work but heaps of fun and very rewarding. I handed the reins over to Chucky Domin and then he passed it onto Pete Morgan. It’s still a super strong club – I reckon the best in Australia. A lot of Australian champions cut their teeth and honed their skills in SPSC heats.
3. I think its great you are still documenting the Australian SUP scene under Australian Paddle Surfer Magazine, especially the competition side of things, can you tell us about the magazine and its history?
Yeah, I don’t really do much with that anymore. There just isn’t enough time in the day between family, work, sleeping and getting out in the water. But it was awesome while we (my wife and I) were full swing into the couple of issues we did get out. It was 2009 and we were the first SUP mag in Australia so everyone was frothing on it. If there are some good conditions for shooting and I’m not out there myself, I’ll still take photos or shoot some video. And I know how much everyone loves to see images of themselves in action (from experience!) so I’ll pop them online for all to enjoy. I reckon I’ll get back to a print version of the mag in some format, at some stage.
4. Competition. I’m always hoping I don't get you in my heats, how long have you been competing in SUP surfing and do you have a contest strategy or just surf how you would in a free surf?
I reckon I’ve been going to SUP surf contests for longer than anyone in Australia. I missed the first Noosa comp and the first Malfunction but I was in the first Snowy McAlister event in 2008 and most of the major comps since that. Most of the guys that went in those early events have since fallen off the contest scene. I think I’m the only guy who has competed at every single Australian Titles since Surfing Australia started running a SUP division. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. I’m still trying! Contest surfing is quite different to free surfing – lots of different strategies come into play. Sorry, I can’t tell you what my strategies are as we might end up in a heat together again. Ha Ha.
5. 10ft Surfing and contest. There was a big push to have the 10ft division in the state titles all through out Australia this year which eventually did happen, but there was no 10ft addition to the national titles. What are your thoughts on the progression of this style and 10ft division in competition?
I think it is awesome for the sport. The pointing end of the competition scene is so hard if you aren’t sub 25 years old, aren’t sub 70 kilograms and don’t ride a sub seven foot board. The ten foot plus division opens the sport up to such a bigger market of competitors of different ages and body shapes. Contest organisers will get more registration fees, retailers will sell more boards, competitors will have more fun – it’s win-win for everybody. Bring on the longboard SUP revolution.
6. I have heard a lot of good things about Sunova’s boards, can you tell us a little bit about the company as well as any roles you may have with the design or your role as a team rider?
It’s a great company and they make awesome boards. Bert Burger is a master of design and construction techniques. I did a visit of their factory in Thailand earlier in the year and it is amazing what they are doing there. The materials, production processes and quality control are amazing. They are getting ready to scale things up and are working on even more innovative stuff – they are full power ahead. They really look after their team riders and I absolutely love the stuff they let me ride so I reckon I’ll stick around for as long as they let me. Who knows, maybe there could be a Casso line of models coming up further down the track.
7. What’s in the quiver? (Feel free to include all boards opposed to just sup boards)
At the moment (changes every few months), I’m lucky enough to have:
- 7’4” Sunova 2IN1 Foil SUP (great quiver killer for when you can only take one board) - 7’8” Sunova Foilboard (Sunova’s first prototype SUP foilboard – still goes awesome)
- 7’10” Sunova Flow (my old comp board that got trashed by the airlines)
- 7’10” Sunova Creek (my current comp board – love it)
- 7’11” Sunova Speeed (the board I take when conditions are too hectic for the Creek)
- 10’0” Sunova Style (my ten footer that I take everywhere and surf in anything)
- 12’0” Sunova Search (a super fun board in ten inch surf or ten foot surf)
- 14’0” Sunova Faast (for those downwinder days).
8. Foiling. Seriously how addictive is it?
Freaky addictive. It gives me that feeling I had when I first started SUPing – can’t wait to get out there again and try and progress a little bit more. It’s super tricky but that makes it so rewarding when you get a good glide. It’s definitely not for everyone and should only be done at the right spots – but I love it. It makes crap surf, insane fun.
9. Being from the Northern Beaches of New South Wales, can you tell us about the coastline, SUP friendly spots and spots that SUP’s should stay clear from?
The Northern Beaches has some great surf but it really isn’t that SUP friendly. Lots of beach breaks in between rocky headlands makes it really hard to get out when you can’t duck dive. And every beach has its own set of locals that really don’t like blow-ins, especially on cumbersome craft that could limit their wave count. I’ve been surfing some of those beaches for forty plus years and still have to be VERY careful with how I conduct myself out there. There is an unwritten ban on SUPs at Whale Beach Wedge, Newport Peak, Little Avalon, North Narrabeen and Dee Why Point.
10. What’s one of the best SUP experiences that is embedded into your memory?
I had a day out at Tea Tree at Noosa a few years back. It was an epic, unseasonal winter swell wrapping into the point perfectly. There were only a handful of us out there but one of the other guys was Dave Rastovich. I was the only one on a SUP but we were taking turns and hooting each other as we rode by. Watching Rasta surf perfect waves up close was surreal and then having the crew respect you like an equal while you’re out there on a SUP was just awesome. No barriers or prejudices that day which was so nice and very uncommon.
check out some of Andrew Cassidy's Videos below.
SUP Surfing: https://vimeo.com/199642367
Ten Foot SUP: https://vimeo.com/248616528