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SUP Israel: Ran Kalif Interview
We're stoked about our exclusive interview with filmmaker Ran Kalif. Below Ran gives us the lowdown on the SUP scene in Israel, along with some great footage of some of the great SUP waveriders coming out of Israel.

Can you tell us your background in SUP?
I used to surf when I was a kid, we lived by the sea and it was part of my early days. Everyday after school we used to hang out at the local spot and always found something to do in the water. Later on I got myself a good camera and started to shoot water sports, especially surfing and windsurfing, back then it was on film and very expensive, every shot was calculated. When I was sixteen my parents moved inland and it was a real disaster for me, the ocean was part of me and I took the relocation quite hard. 15 years have passed traveling for my work and in the past decade I have finally returned to the ocean, kitesurfing the waves and lately when it popped up, doing SUP and naturally filming it.

When did SUP start hitting big in Israel?
About two years ago you could see a few strange looking guys walking on water with long paddles, it seemed too strange for most of us. Last winter I got a phone call from a surfer friend named Amit and he invited me to try it out, still, it was too strange but after a few sessions I got hooked and it became a true drug, couldn't let the paddle go too far from my hands anymore. From that winter on, you could see more and more guys paddling and before we knew it the local breaks and the lineups where a mix of paddles and surfers altogether.

Is SUP being widely accepted or facing resistance from the Israel surf scene?
It really depends on the spot I guess, here most of the spots are beach breaks and cannot hold high swell, in these places there is plenty of space for everyone so no real issues. But on the premier few reef point brakes, where the swell can go up to a decent 6ft breaking outside usually after the storms hit, you can see that it becomes quite uncomfortable for so much fins in the water, let alone paddles, so we have to give respect and give a way few waves before we take some. No real hostility yet, mainly because on the better days not many SUP surfers can prove grounds yet, I guess in a few years it will change and the scene might explode.

What are some of the good spots for paddling in Israel? Are there flat water paddling spots as well as the waves you show in the video?
Israel offers diverse conditions for SUP. We have the Sea of Galilee up north offering great flat water trips, same goes southerly with the Jordan river which can be quite challenging with the currents and whitewater mess, you can paddle the amazing flat scenery of the Dead Sea there is nothing like it on this planet and further down south you can paddle the flats of Eilat with it's dark blue deeps and coral reefs. On days where the wind is gentle off shore (2-3 knots), paddling along the coastline can be both a good workout and a real trip, like the underwater city of old Caesarea or the caves of Rosh-Hanikra up north.

As for the surf, we have quite nice reef breaks that can hold their own, good left handers and rights. Places like the backdoor and the casino in Haifa, Shavei-Zion up north, Jaser-A-Zarka and Hilton beach to name a few can deliver great sessions, besides these we have many more beach breaks delivering the daily fix to keep it going.

Do you see SUP growing as fast in Israel as we are seeing it in the U.S.?
SUP is going big here right now, many are getting into the sport and some dealers are really starting to push it forward with events and paddle groups, up to the point that there are a few local shapers here making their own and even a new SUP company having a range of very nice shapes (called "Shibumi SUP"), I still get a loner sessions but they become less and less frequent and when the surf comes up you can really see spots dominated by SUPs. Lately some kids and women are showing up with SUPs and even my kids are begging me to let them quite school from time to time for the paddle…I even see some of my surfing friends doing it on shortboard SUPs

Can you tell us the names and backgrounds of the guys in your videos.
The guy I am chasing after in the videos is named Amit Inbar, a former top pro and quite an accomplished windsurfer, he also kites strapless in the waves like no other and really kills it in the water, he lately started a new SUP brand with some interesting designs. Amit and some others here are pushing the sport forward in the right direction, making it look like real surfing especially with some quite short and wide SUPs (7 to 8 feet sizes) allowing more tricks on the face of the waves. We have some other good SUPers here like Lishai Miller who was a a kitesurf pro for Naish, most of the other guys are afternoon heroes and former surfers who wanted a fresh change and now kills it with SUPs.

Big thanks to Ran for sharing his videos with us, and for giving us some insight on the SUP scene in Israeil. Stay tuned to PaddleBoard Specialistst this year for more videos from all over this SUP filled world of ours.

For more info on our entire SUP collection call us at 1-877-473-1199 or check out paddleboardspecialists.com.