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New SUP Program Levels & Version of The Manual

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The Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Program Development Committee is pleased to release the 2014 version of the Stand Up Paddleboard Program Manual. This release represents the most significant evolution in the program! This version (v4.0) is now available at in the Instructor Services section in the left column.

(Hint: if you have trouble finding the Instructor Services menu and SUP Program link, you simply have to renew your membership first for 2014 season). 

New Comprehensive SUP Program

The Paddle Canada SUP program has been in a state of evolution since it was launched in 2011. Stand Up Paddleboarding is a relatively new sport, and as it has evolved, so has our program. Version 4.0 has seen the most significant changes to date. Going forward, we do not expect any significant changes. Small changes happen at least annually, but the essentials of the program are now stable.

The Paddle Canada SUP program is the most comprehensive in the world! It consists of the industry-standard introductory stream, from which paddlers can pursue further skill development in their choice of River SUP, Surf SUP, or Touring SUP. There are instructor and instructor-trainer levels that correspond with each skill level.

In the next few weeks, we will be making changes to the Paddle Canada database to accommodate the new program. Once that is complete, instructors and instructor-trainers will be able to register their new courses!

With the database update, you will notice your certifications will undergo a change in name to align them with the new program.

  • River instructors (and ITs) will become River 2 instructors (and ITs)
  • Coastal-Surf instructors (and ITs) will become Surf 1 instructors (and ITs)
  • Coastal-Journeying instructors (and ITs) will become Touring 1 instructors (and ITs)

The SUP Program Development Committee will develop roll-out clinics for the new Surf 2 and Touring 2 instructor and IT levels. Details will be available by spring.

Additionally, their are limited funds to send instructor-trainers to areas of Canada that are under-served by the SUP program, and areas where existing SUP instructors require recertification and/or are seeking further professional development. If you know of such a region or group of paddlers, please contact the committee soonest at [email protected]. We are planning subsidized IT visits now.

Presently, some detail is missing from the new Surf and Touring streams. All items in each course are included, but the specific outcomes and descriptions are being polished for publication right now. Program manual v4.1 will be released soon into the instructor section of paddlebuzz with all the appropriate detail included. Stay tuned.

In summary, some of the important changes to the program include:

  1. The Introduction to SUP stream has been renamed to Basic SUP, and Basic SUP Instructor respectively. A Basic SUP Instructor Trainer program was created. The name change is to bring it more in line with names of similar programs in kayaking and canoeing.   
  2. The Coastal stream has been replaced with the two separate streams of Surf and Touring. There are two skills levels in each, along with corresponding instructor and instructor-trainer levels. The split was to accommodate paddlers who want to pursue only one of the two sub-disciplines – surf or touring. The class ratio for Surf courses changed to 1:4.  
  3. The instructor and instructor-trainer levels of the River SUP program were reformatted into two levels of each, to correspond with the existing two skill levels in River SUP.   
  4. Allowance was made in the program for apprentice instructors and assistant instructors, along with standards and conditions for their use.  
  5. Additional smaller changes and additions were included, including: clarification on the correct use of the “Conditional Pass”, helpful information on the federal regulations surrounding “Guided Excursions”, updated information on required First Aid certifications, and notice of changes to the standards for “Certification Maintenance”.

There have been many changes to the SUP program! All instructors and instructor-trainers should review the new program manual thoroughly.

Happy paddling!

Stand Up Paddleboard Program Development Committee

[email protected]


The new version of the program manual (Version 4.0, January 2014)  available to download in your Members Area of website under Instructor Services menu –> SUP Program.

Overview of SUP Program on has been updated as well including new Program Flow Chart here.

Here is a summary of changes in 2014:

  • Updated: Changed the name of the Introduction to Stand Up Paddleboard skills course to Basic SUP skills. Changed the name of the Introduction to Stand Up Paddleboard instructor course to Basic SUP instructor. Created Basic SUP instructor-trainer level. 
  • New: Split the former ‘Coastal’ stream into separate ‘Surf’ and ‘Touring’ streams, each of which includes 2 skill levels, 2 instructor levels and 2 instructor trainer levels. 
  • Updated: Reformatted River instructor and instructor-trainer to include 2 levels of each. 
  • New: Added a module clarifying Conditional Passes. 
  • Updated: Removed all references to “PFD” and replaced them with “lifejacket.” 
  • New: Added Assistant Instructors and Apprentice Instructors, and related standards. 
  • Updated: Changed the instructor:participant ratios for Surf courses to 1:4. 
  • New: Added information regarding changes to Transport Canada’s Small Vessel Regulations regarding “Guided Excursions.” 
  • Updated: Information regarding the First Aid requirements when operating in wilderness to each instructor level. 
  • Updated: Revised prerequisites for Flatwater Instructor courses to include “or equivalent skills and knowledge.” 
  • Updated: Made corrections & grammatical edits