This is an observation for race directors looking to get more people to come and enjoy their races.
When you have a challenge that goes beyond a simple 5K or 10K race, one that has obstacles that transcend a straight line, a start and a finish, you can inspire people to consider their own performance as the reward (or punishment).
The more you lean toward a straight forward race for distance, like a 5k sprint, the more age groups and classes come into play and the more important it is to clearly, loudly and frequently communicate the competitive divisions.
For SUP, I wholeheartedly believe there should be a 14 and under division for men and women and a Travel Division for inflatables of all sizes and shapes. Have age and gender groups for these. The rest are open paddlers who are there for the challenge of the course. It’s the only way. If you want to compete, get in the competitive division. Race directors can then recognize the age groups. The more divisions you add, the less meaningful and manageable it gets.
For races that are specific to a location that requires an unlimited board, like M2O or a 12’6″ like PPG, go for it.
For racers, you have to decide if you want to compete for personal reasons, to accomplish personal goals, or if you want to enter into the division where there is competition.