Marcus Hansen hopes training on pulsating down wind runs along Tutukaka coast and kilometres on the quieter waters of Whangarei Harbour will be the fitness foundation needed for a string of top performances on the international stand up paddle boarding circuit this year.

The 24-year-old Whangarei man's paddling career was given a huge boost late last year with international board makers NSP sponsoring the relative newcomer to the sport to compete overseas. He's the first Kiwi male to be sponsored to compete on the international stand up paddle boarding circuit.

While he is coy about revealing the dollars in the deal, he says it's a budget that will allow him to stand and compete along side the best in the world.

"It means I go from the bones of my arse to making this happen," he reckons.

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"NSP give me a budget and they give me boards and I can plan for the racing year ahead. I've always dreamed of doing this. It was my intention when I was funding myself around the world to various events. So this is awesome."

Stand up paddle boarder Marcus Hansen has joined the NSP team on the World Tour. PHOTO/ Michael Cunningham
Stand up paddle boarder Marcus Hansen has joined the NSP team on the World Tour. PHOTO/ Michael Cunningham

Hansen has rocketed to the top of the sport since after taking it up seriously in March last year.

The former Whangarei Boys High School student has never been far from sports involving the water and has sailed competitively up until he jumped ship to stand up.

As a competitive sailor Hansen and sailing partner Josh Porebski were runners up in the Rio Olympic qualifiers to eventual 49er gold medallists Blair Tuke and Peter Burling.

Marcus Hansen, right, and Josh Porebski at Oceanbridge Sail Auckland in 2013.
Marcus Hansen, right, and Josh Porebski at Oceanbridge Sail Auckland in 2013.

Hansen said he then dabbled with qualifying for Rio as a windsurfer but decided to focus on stand up paddling, something he had done for fun over seven years.

A stunning first season caught the eye of NSP and resulted in Hansen becoming a sponsored paddler.

This month on NSP's official website they announced they were proud to add the New Zealander to their international rider lineup.

Solid performances at the gruelling 11 City Tour -220KM endurance race across the canals of Netherlands, King of the Cut and The Doctor, in Australia, all played a key part in cementing his position on the team for 2017, they said.

This year's campaign has started off on a winning note after he took line honours at Otahu Cup at Whangamata. He will compete at the New Zealand SUP Nationals at Orewa in March in preparation for his off shore racing stint.

Racing under the NSP banner Hansen will compete on two circuits- the Eurotour and the World Series.

The Eurotour is the biggest stand up tour of its kind and takes in flat eater to rivers, ocean waves, lakes, beaches, and is set against some of the most iconic scenery in Europe. Long distance races can be up to 20km while technical races are shorter and usually involve completing circuits of a course marked out with buoys.

The World Series includes races in Hawaii, China and America and a race Hansen will compete in at Tokyo in May. He is also eyeing the Worlds Championships to be staged in Denmark. At the Worlds in Fiji last year Hansen finished 7th in the technical race and 9th in the distance race.

Backing up races over five consecutive weekends with the body performing at 100 per cent is his key focus.

"It's going to be tough racing and get that consistent performance and getting the body working at 100 per cent is going to be the challenge."

Until he jet sets off overseas he is working as a labourer at a local sawmill and training up to three times a day on and off the water. He currently paddles about 80km a week mixing it up with distance paddling and interval training.

He said local paddler Karl Roberts had been supportive, along with NSP New Zealand distributor Shan Miller, his parents and New Zealand paddlers who had pushed him during races.