Stand up paddling world title holders Connor Baxter and Fiona Wylde will host the first ever International Canoe Federation online webinar on Sunday, giving paddlers of all abilities a rare opportunity to learn from the very best.

Registrations are still open for the Sunday webinars, which start at 8pm CET. More details can be found here.

The ICF caught up with Connor and Fiona ahead of the webinar.

ICF:  What sort of benefit do you believe a webinar such as this can bring to SUP?

FIONA: One of the biggest benefits that I see coming from a SUP Webinar like this is the connection to the community that the event creates. I think back to when I was starting to race before I was pro and racing on Starboard, if I had the chance to jump on a Zoom call with Connor Baxter, I totally would have. Webinars get people excited, especially during a year when we could all use a bit of excitement. Also, it's extremely encouraging for us as athletes to see the excitement from the sport. We haven't had exposure to paddlers this year, so to connect and make an effort to talk to one another, motivates me to keep training and pushing the sport. 

CONNOR: A webinar is a great way to learn from the best and gain a few key things to level your game up! You might not always have the opportunity to paddle with a professional paddler, so no matter where you are you can tune in and learn some tips.

ICF. SUP has been one of the success stories of the pandemic period - the growth has been phenomenal. Why do you think so many people are turning to the sport?

FIONA: There's nothing better than being outside and breathing fresh air, especially when so many of us have spent more time in our houses than we ever expected! Add a paddle into that equation, its the chance to get away from whatever is going on on the land. Plus paddling is so much fun! Throughout COVID-19, paddling has been one of safest ways to socially distance and get exercise. So many of my friends have called paddling their 'sanity' this year. Maybe some of your followers can relate to that?

CONNOR: Stand up paddling is one of the easiest water sports to learn and all you need is water. You can get an amazing workout in just a short amount of time working the full body. During this pandemic people had more time on their hands and wanted to get outside to play. Plus you can go by yourself and have a blast or have a one friend join to keep the group small.

ICF. A lot of people have taken up SUP in the past 12 months. Is it a difficult next step to go from a starter to someone who paddles competitively? And will the webinars help people take that next step?

FIONA: The only thing that is making the jump into competition difficult right now is the pandemic and travel restrictions. But even still, this is an incredible time to improve your skills and prepare for a race. This is something that I really want to talk about during my time on the webinar. There are a lot of things you can do off the racecourse to prepare for competing, but also, you gain so much experience from racing. I'll talk about how to prepare for your first race and how to improve even if you are a veteran racer, and what I've been doing to challenge myself during these times without competition. I'll chat through little tips and tricks that I do, both on and off the water to be the most prepared and confident I can be on race day. 

CONNOR: The beautiful part about stand up paddling is you can get into competing by entering the amateurs division to see where you are at in your age division. Going pro is doable if you want to invest the time and mindset to becoming the best! It involves lots of time on the water and training hard.

USA Connor Baxter stand up paddling sprint gold Qingdao 2019 SUP

Stand Up Paddling