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SUP magazine’s Paddle Rankings

There's going to be a lot of this over the weekend at Doheny. Photo: JP Van Swae

There’s going to be a lot of this over the weekend at Doheny. Photo: JP Van Swae

Welcome to the first-ever SUP magazine Paddle Rankings. Boom! That just sounds authoritative. If you’re over the whole pro paddling scene, move on to the next post. This is serious. Mostly. The list below is our take on the world of racing, written with human emotion, so yeah, they may be a bit biased. We rely more on the eye test than analytics, even though we’ll use hard facts too. This is unabashed, unadulterated, opinionated, pro-race reading. And with the US Open finishing up last week in Huntington, and the Pacific Paddle Games, presented by Salt Life, at Doheny State Beach set to go off this weekend, the timing couldn’t be better.


1. Kai Lenny
Is it just me or has Kai Lenny’s body changed? He’s actually moving more toward the Danny Ching body type these days. Almost no no one trains harder than Kai, so it’s easy to see how he’s bulked up. That extra strength seems to be paying dividends, he’s been tough to beat at World Series races (he can wrap up a world title on Oahu next week) and I love watching him paddle: super powerful, yet he moves his race board with a style that’s pleasing on the eyes. The technical race as this year’s Pacific Paddle Games is tailored to Lenny’s style. Distance is always the wildcard for him. He finished second at Molokai, albeit 16 minutes behind Travis Grant, and ended 25th at Hood River. Don’t expect him to blink on this big stage.


2. Connor Baxter
Connor has had a tough year by his standards: he pulled out of the Molokai—his pet race—and he just hasn’t looked in form. And his results have reflected that. But the kid is so accomplished at 21 so it’s hard to really ever count him out of anything. He seems worn out after a long year but this weekend will go a long way in determining where he’s at. His lackluster year might just be the fuel he needs to set fire to #PPG2015.


3. Danny Ching

Our Top Four is extremely muddled as each paddler is capable of taking a win against the others depending on the day. But Danny Ching has stayed successful for so long I can’t help making this proclamation (and would be stupid not to): Ching can never be underestimated. He’s got the ideal body for power paddling in any condition: He’s light, muscular and put together in a perfect package for winning races over time, much like Mo Freitas, Zane Schweitzer and Kai Lenny. And his paddling record at Doheny is second to none. The winningest paddler of his generation, he’s without a doubt a favorite to take the Pacific Paddle Games’ overall title.


4. Travis Grant

Travis Grant is one of our favorite paddlers. He knows the sport—and the mechanics of paddling—supremely well as he has a background in building paddles and paddling outrigger. And no one in the world is better in distance and downwind (he won best performance at SUP magazine’s 2015 SUP Awards for his second, and dominant, Molokai win this year). But he hasn’t won a major technical race in several years now so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares at the PPG’s this weekend. If he wins the distance, he’ll most likely just need to crack the Top 5 in the technical to take the overall title.


5. Mo Freitas
There’s no need to justify Mo Freitas being in the Top Ten in our Power Rankings. But we might need to rationalize putting him this low. One of the most uniquely gifted paddlers in the sport, Freitas is a podium threat anytime he registers for a number. He’s so young, it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out for him in 2016 after finishing 3rd overall at the World Series event in Huntington last week (he’s currently in 5th for the year). For now, he’s a legitimate threat to win the PPG’s and earn his spot farther up this list.


6. Kelly Margetts

Alight, this is a nod to the mature paddlers amongst us. At 43, Margetts is having an unbelievable year, winning the grueling Gorge distance race against a stacked field and finishing second in the Aussie titles. And he always did well at the BOP. It’s hard to give what Margetts is pulling off a sports analogy that works. Kelly Slater is close but Slater has had a lot more sustained success. I could think of some baseball pitchers who’ve had late-career revivals but the comparisons are too random. Simply put, dude is killing it into midlife. Something most of us can only dream of attaining as we grow older.


7. Zane Schweitzer

OK, sentimental favorite here. Zane has a ton of ability. He might not crack the top ten of some world rankings but he’s just as talented as the field above him. I always feel like he needs one big win to put him over the top and I find myself rooting for him on the beach. He definitely had a breakthrough season on the surf side, finishing second in the world and is ranked 7th in the World Series. Maybe it’s his time at the PPGs?


8. Casper Steinfath
Fear the beard. Or at least know it’s chasing you down. Casper hasn’t won a big event when paired against the world’s best competition, other than a victory at an ISA’s in 2013, but he’s always right there in the top seven of most races he’s entered He’s an extremely versatile paddler and is comfortable racing rail-to-rail with the best paddlers on the regular. It’s only a matter of time before Steinfath—and his beard—earns a break.


9. Titouan Puyo
Titouan Puyo has become one of the best paddle athletes alive. Mostly because of where he grew up (there’s a lot of God-given ability in there too): his parents raised him in New Caledonia and he’s a long-time canoe racer. Needless to say he knows how to read the open ocean. And that’s why he’s busted out this year, finishing third in both distance and technical in Hood River. He still hasn’t taken that final step to the podium, and his technical race ability is still developing, but he has all the tools in the shed.


10. Slater Trout
Slater, Slater, Slater. Gifted. Talented. Marginally interested in following the race circuit around the world. But that’s OK, cause he can still come out and crush it with the best athletes in the sport on any given day. And that’s why he’s always on the watch list at any given event that he chooses to attend. And he seems to do well at combo events like the PPG (he finished 6th overall at the Payette River Games). Not to mention, he was one of the first guys to sign up for this race.


1. Candice Appleby
Candice Appleby will be the first to tell you that God makes her a great racer. We tend to think it’s because she’s an outrageously intense competitor. Whether you think her success this year is divine intervention or not, Appleby is crushing it. An undeniable truth. She won the World Series Title last week and is set for a rematch against her stiffest rival, Annabel Anderson this weekend. Whether that rivalry is as heated as it once was is debatable, but it still makes watching these two go at it fun.


2. Annabel Anderson
Still one of the sport’s greatest athletes, Annabel Anderson has again strategically picked the races she’s attended this year. Her performance at the Gorge was supremely impressive as she swept the podium. While Appleby wasn’t at the event, it was still a fine showing. The live broadcast of this weekend’s event definitely gets a ratings boost when Appleby and Anderson are in the same beach start. Stay tuned. This one is too close to call.


3.Fiona Wylde
Wylde has the potential to become the next star of women’s racing. Some would argue she’s already there but with Anderson and Appleby still in the game, it isn’t quite her time. That hasn’t made her results any less impressive. She ended the season tied for second overall on the Standup World Series and at the Gorge Paddle Challenge, she finished the elite course in third and second in the distance. She was also the only person to challenge Anderson at the Carolina Cup this year.


4. Angela Jackson
Angela Jackson is a gifted Australian racer and is in that top four conversation anytime she’s in an event. She’s been concentrating on building a board brand with her husband, Paul, so her focus hasn’t been entirely on the water. But she still managed to finish fourth overall in the World Series rankings. I always keep my eye on her at the start line—she’s always a threat.


5. Shae Foudy
Dana Point, California’s Shae Foudy is having a breakout year. It’s official. She won the Santa Monica event this summer and grabbed the Breakout Performance award at the SUP Awards—one of the few “locals” to ever win an award at the annual event held each year in San Clemente, right down the road from where she grew up. At 16, she has a legitimate shot at becoming the best female racer in the sport. And that could happen next year. It’ll be interesting to see how she fares this weekend.

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Molokai 2 Oahu | Paddling’s Most Prestigious Race Is Tomorrow

molokai 2 oahu 2015

For racers in the M2O, tomorrow’s event represents the pinnacle of months of planning, preparation and dedicated training efforts. When the day finally arrives, the combined effect is pretty surreal. Here, the community rejoices and reflects with respect and good blessings for the crossing to come. Photo: Eric Aeder.

Molokai 2 Oahu | Paddling’s Most Prestigious Race Is Tomorrow

Industry leaders refer to it as “the closest thing to a world championship in SUP.” Earth’s most accomplished racers consider it the ultimate challenge in paddling. It’s the sport’s definitive race event, taking place on the world’s most revered paddle crossing, between two islands that once set and continue to uphold a standard by which all standup racers gauge their abilities. It’s the holy grail of downwind racing; the Mecca of ocean paddling. It’s  Molokai 2 Oahu (M2O) and it’s happening again tomorrow.


M2O 101

Nearly two decades ago, a group of dedicated Hawaiian paddlers officiated the first-ever paddle race across the Ka’iwi Channel—also known as the Channel of Bones—a 32-mile crossing from Molokai to Oahu commonly referred to as “the most grueling paddle crossing on earth.” In founding M2O, these pioneering racers were emulating what their Hawaiian ancestors had done for countless years prior—harnessing the region’s annual mid-summer trade winds and riding the freight train-sized bumps those winds create northwest across the great Pacific channel from island to island. Tomorrow, the tradition continues with the 19th annual Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard Championships.


What to Expect This Year 

The Constants:

The promise of excitement, adventure, challenge and carnage inherent to the most demanding event on the race calendar is as apparent as ever this year. So is the likelihood that a handful of the world’s top champions—Connor Baxter, Kai Lenny, Travis Baptiste, Andrea Moller, Annabel Anderson, Candice Appleby, to name some—will tow the rum line across the channel to Oahu. Similarly reliable is the advantage possessed by veteran legends like Jeremy Riggs when it comes to navigating the intricacies and nuances featured in the Channel of Bones. Safe to say—these components will play out in conventional style for tomorrow’s race.

The Variables:

The trade winds that traditionally grace the Ka’iwi Channel this time of year are quite literally the driving force behind the M2O. With them, paddlers have been known to cross the 32-mile wide channel in just over four hours (last year, Connor Baxter set a new record in the unlimited class with a time of 4:08:08). Without these winds, the crossing can take double that time, even for the most conditioned paddlers.

This year, to the most extreme extent in recollected history, the winds are virtually nonexistent.

“We’ve had a windless Hawaiian summer,” Suzie Cooney, veteran Maui downwind racer and coach to some of the world’s top paddlers, told SUP mag. “The trades that normally grace our predicted courses are just not cooperating this year. Tomorrow’s race is going to be a showdown of those who have been training in all elements and are in the best physical condition.”

The prospect of no wind is magnified by the passing of Tropical Storm Enrique, expected to track near the islands tomorrow with potential to shut down the wind altogether. Pair that factor with two major swells that are currently running their course through the channel—an east and a south—and conditions for tomorrow’s race are expected to be entirely unique to the status quo for the Ka’iwi Channel.


See the full start-list of registered racers for tomorrow’s M2O.

Tune in to the live webcast tomorrow to witness the epic event in real time!

Check out the below videos for even more in-depth insight into the year’s most prestigious race event.

Stay tuned for an insightful essay on M2O from world champion racer, Annabel Anderson, to be released exclusively on this afternoon!

Check back with for live updates, exclusive analysis, and a full gallery recap of the 2015 Molokai 2 Oahu World Championships.

Molokai 2 Oahu Official Preview

72-Hours: M2O


America’s Cup Winner Jimmy Spithill Talks Racing the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships

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Baxter, Appleby Sweep Standup World Series Stop No. 1 in Barcelona

connor baxter barcelona

Connor Baxter wears the yellow jersey with authority as he reclaims his presence at the head of the pack coming into the 2015 Standup World Series. Photo: Albert P. Laborda/Waterman League

Baxter, Appleby Sweep World Series Stop No. 1 in Barcelona

The opening event of the 2015 Standup World Series, held over the weekend in Barcelona, Spain, played out in storybook fashion as last year’s World Series champion, Connor Baxter, ignited his 2015 campaign with commanding first-place finishes in both the distance and sprint races.

Baxter’s dominance shouldn’t have surprised anyone, but it may have been an upset for some. Fellow pack-leader, Kai Lenny, finished second overall in Barcelona, a valiant effort but without the definitiveness of Baxter’s victory. Lenny earned his way to the Finals and nabbed second in the sprint race, but took an uncharacteristic seventh in the distance event, which found Lenny in a points tie with French racer, Arthur Arutkin. As the overall standing went to the racer with the highest single-event ranking, Lenny’s runner-up finish in the sprint was enough to break the tie and synch the second-place overall title. Look for Lenny and Baxter to go back and forth throughout the World Series calendar.

Casper Steinfath

Defending European Cup titleholder Casper “The Viking” Steinfath heads to next weekend’s World Challenger Series event in Finland after a fifth overall in Barcelona. Photo: Waterman League

Arutkin—a talented SUP surfer and burgeoning contender on the international race circuit—put on an powerful display at this year’s World Series opener, earning third-place overall and awarding himself stature as the Series’ unquestionable early dark horse. After beating many of the world’s top competitors in both the distance and sprint races, Arutkin is on everyone’s radar as a well-rounded threat for the 2015 season.

On the women’s front, Candice Appleby delivered unrivaled dominance, claiming victory in both the sprint and flatwater races at the Barceloneta Beach race venue. Appleby’s win comes after a less than ideal 6th-place finish at the Payette River Games, from which she left directly for Barcelona to seek redemption on flat water. There she found it in cunning style ahead of runner-up Angie Jackson, whose second-place overall finish was awarded after the points tie broke narrowly in her favor ahead of young Slovenian talent, Manca Notar.

While the 2015 Standup World Series is off to a characteristic start given the lead-holders and their traditional dominance, plenty of talented wildcards, such as Arutkin and Notar, are displaying early potential to shake things up drastically heading into Stop No. 2 on the Standup World Series, the Fehmarn World Cup, Germany in July.

Stay tuned to for more European event coverage and insight from the Standup World Series.

More event coverage.

First-place overall victors of Stop No. 1 of the Standup World Series—Connor Baxter and Candice Appleby—revel in the rewards of victory. Photo:

First-place overall victors at stop number one of the Standup World Series—Connor Baxter and Candice Appleby—revel in the rewards of sweet victory. Photo: Waterman League





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2015 Euro Tour | Stop No. 2 | St’Ives Bay Celtic Cup

2015 Euro Tour | Stop No. 2 | St’Ives Bay Celtic Cup

Connor Baxter and Fiona Wylde Claim Victory at Stop No. 2 on the Euro Tour

What’s that saying about Europe in the summer? That’s right…there isn’t one. But after yesterday’s St’Ives Bay Celtic Cup—the second stop on the newly established Euro Tour (a series unifying the most prestigious races of Europe’s formerly fragmented race circuit)—there really should be. We’ll go ahead and let you figure that one out.

Saturday’s St’Ives Bay Celtic Cup wasn’t the biggest SUP race in the world. It wasn’t the biggest in Europe, probably not even the biggest in England. Nestled discreetly between higher-caliber events like the OluKai Ho’o, Lost Mills race in Germany and the events of the Standup World Series, it might be easy to overlook the legitimacy of the second stop on the Euro Tour and the only new race on the tour’s stacked, world-class race agenda.

But after Saturday’s 13-kilometer distance race culminated with victories for 20-year-old Hawaiian world champion, Connor Baxter, and 17-year-old Pacific Northwestern prodigy, Fiona Wylde, the St’Ives Bay Celtic Cup garnered some well-deserved attention for the quaint but growing SUP society in southwestern England.

Baxter—the undisputed favorite for the Celtic Cup—maintained a consistent lead throughout the race, but his win was by no means a landslide. After three long laps in windy conditions that provided contenders with both downwind and upwind segments, Baxter crossed the finish line in 1:28:07, a mere six seconds ahead of the runner-up, Spaniard Fernando Stalla, and 15 seconds ahead of third-place finisher, Italy’s Paolo Marconi. The six racers to follow were lads of the UK, whose worthy contention carved out an unprecedented level of credibility for the growing English SUP racing community.

On the woman’s side, Fiona Wylde proved yet again that her talents as a SUP competitor are myriad. Wylde, who opted to compete in the male-dominated 14′ division, finished in 1:38:34, beating out nearly half the men overall, and leading the women with a gap of more than two minutes.

After the cancellation of the SUP World Cup in Fehmarn, Germany, the next race on the Euro TourLost Mills, Germany—is now widely considered the most prestigious SUP race in all of Europe. It’s coming up on June 4, so stay tuned to for full coverage, photos and details of the event.

St’Ives Bay Celtic Cup Full Results

1 Connor Baxter 1:28:07 14′ 15.00
2 Fernando Stalla 1:28:13 14′ 11.25
3 Paolo Marconi 1:28:22 14′ 9.00
4 Paul Simmons 1:28:30 14′ 7.50
5 Ryan James 1:29:16 14′ 6.38
6 Aaron Rowe 1:30:57 14′ 5.25
7 Pete Holliday 1:31:44 14′ 4.50
8 Ollie Shilston 1:31:45 14′ 3.75
9 Mark Slater 1:33:36 14′ 3.38
10 Jim Terrell 1:34:31 14′ 3.00
11 Chris Parker 1:34:40 14′ 2.70
12 Tim Harley 1:34:58 14′ 2.40
13 Crispin Jones 1:36:00 14′ 2.25
14 Nicholas Watt 1:36:06 14′ 2.10
15 Damian Warner 1:37:14 14′ 1.95
16 Benjamin Fisher 1:38:34 12’6 1.80
17 Charlie Jones 1:38:40 14′ 1.65
18 Matthew Wall 1:42:34 14′ 1.50
19 Scott Warren 1:43:03 12’6 1.35
20 MacRae Wylde 1:43:08 12’6 1.20
21 Tim Rowe 1:44:42 14′ 1.13
22 Jamie Harman 1:47:06 14′ 1.05
23 Dominic Moore 1:48:07 14′ 0.98
24 Luke Bolsin 1:48:42 14′ 0.90
25 Barry Short 1:48:53 14′ 0.83
26 Carl Sawyer 1:49:18 14′ 0.78
27 Jason Sawyer 1:54:22 12’6 0.74
28 Chris Bates 1:54:56 14′ 0.69
29 SA Trott 2:02:59 12’6 0.65
30 Will Peak 2:04:27 14′ 0.60
31 Peter Everitt 2:08:54 14′ 0.57

1 Fiona Wylde 1:38:34 14′ 15.00
2 Marie Buchanan 1:40:43 14′ 11.25
3 Susak Molinero 1:45:07 14′ 9.00
4 Tarryn Brown 1:49:41 12’6 7.50
5 Emily King 2:02:59 12’6 6.38

Euro Tour Full Schedule

WEEK #1: Port Adriano SUP Race
– Mallorca, Spain, May 23 & 24

WEEK #2: The SUP Race Cup
– St. Maxime, France, May 30 & 31

WEEK #2: St’Ives Bay Celtic Cup
– St. Ives, UK, May 30 & 31

WEEK #3: The Lost Mills
– Brombachsee, Bavaria, Germany, June 4-6

WEEK #4: Bilbao World SUP Challenge
– Bilbao, Spain, June 13 & 14

WEEK #5: The Adriatic Crown
– Marotta, Italy, June 20 & 21

WEEK #5: Deep SUP Race
– Noja, Spain, June 20 & 21

WEEK #6: Happy Summer SUP Race
– Namur, Belgium, June 27 & 28

Want more from the Euro Tour?
See SUP the mag’s recap of the Stop # 1 on the Euro Tour, the Port Adriano SUP Race.

Full description and breakdown of the 2015 Euro Tour.


Cover photo courtesy of The Euro Tour

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2015 ISA Worlds | Appleby and Baxter Take Gold In Technical Races

candice appleby technical race isa world

Candice Appleby takes gold in the women’s technical race on the final day of the ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship. Photo: Panas

2015 ISA Worlds | Appleby and Baxter Take Gold In Technical Races

The final day of competition at the 2015 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship was marked by another gold medal for Candice Appleby and the US SUP Team, solidifying the United State’s dominance with gold medals in every SUP discipline of the week-long event.

On the Men’s side, Connor Baxter brought home a first-place finish in the technical race, marking Team Hawaii’s third gold medal and synching Hawaii’s runner-up finish in the overall event.

Check back with for a full gallery and recap of the 2015 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship.

Connor Baxter sprints toward the finish line and victory for Team Hawaii in the SUP technical race at the 2015 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship. Photo: Greg Panas

Connor Baxter sprints toward the finish line and victory for Team Hawaii in the SUP technical race at the 2015 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship. Photo: Greg Panas

More exclusive SUP coverage of 2015 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship

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Baxter and Moller Repeat Wins at 2015 OluKai Ho’olaule’a

Connor Baxter is feeling it after his fourth win in as many years at the OluKai Ho'olaule'a. Photo: Aaron Schmidt

Connor Baxter is feeling it after his fourth win in as many years at the OluKai Ho’olaule’a. Photo: Aaron Schmidt

Baxter and Moller Repeat Wins at 2015 OluKai Ho’olaule’a

Connor Baxter and Andrea Moller once again showed their mastery of Maui’s Maliko run today, taking wins at the 2015 OluKai Ho’olaule’a in wonderful 15-20 knot-plus winds that make this stretch on of the true downwind paddling meccas in the world.

It was Baxter’s fourth win in a row and Moller’s seventh. In one of the most amazing streaks in the history of our sport, she’s never lost this race. Baxter’s unofficial time of 44:25 would be a new course record, if confirmed.

More than 500 racers showed up to test their mettle in the fantastic conditions on the north shore of Maui.

Baxter won by over two minutes, with Travis Grant, another one of the world’s best downwind paddlers coming in at 46:28. He was followed by Dave Kalama (3rd; 47:16), Travis Baptise—who was on a 14-footer vs. the unlimiteds— (4th; 47:20) Danny Ching (5th; 47:25), Georges Cronsteadt (6th; 47:35) and Livio Menelau (7th; 47:38).

“Stoked to get second today,” Grant said. “Connor was in a whole different league today. That was one of the most epic, fastest runs we’ve ever had. We did eight miles in forty-some minutes, which is unheard of.”

The undisputed female champion of the Maliko Run: Andrea Moller celebrates her seventh Ho'o SUP title. She also races OC-1. Photo: Schmidt

The undisputed female champion of the Maliko Run: Andrea Moller celebrates her seventh Ho’o SUP title. She also races OC-1. Photo: Schmidt

Moller also left no doubt in the women’s event with a winning time of 53:20, ahead of second-place finisher Sonni Honscheid (55:38). She was followed by talened waterwomen Kathy Shipman (3rd; 55:57), Devin Blish (4th; 56:27), Terrene Black (5th; 57:24) and Fiona Wylde (6th; 1:00:14).

Check back for more photos and reports from this year’s OluKai Ho’olaule’a.




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Connor Baxter Talks 2015 OluKai Ho’o and Champion Strategy

Connor Baxter has taken more than 70 first-place finishes in his five year career. Will the OluKai Ho'o be 71? Photo: Matty Schweitzer / @Mat5o

Connor Baxter has taken more than 70 first-place finishes in his five-year race career. Will the OluKai Ho’o be 71? Photo: Matty Schweitzer / @Mat5o

Connor Baxter Talks 2015 OluKai Ho’o and Champion Strategy


What’s the secret to being the world’s most accomplished SUP racer? An agenda of endless travel, for one. A rigorous training regiment and constant time spent on the water, for another. And let’s not forget the ability to assess ones opponents and capitalize on their shortcomings. But for champion SUP racer Connor Baxter—2014 SUP Male Paddler of the Year and the communal favorite for this weekend’s OluKai Ho’olaule’a race—there’s a secret ingredient to success that’s often overlooked by the competition. According to Connor, it’s all about having fun.

SUP: What’s your schedule looking like for the upcoming season?

CB: My schedule is starting to get pretty busy. We had the Carolina Cup, then I flew home and now we’re going straight into the OluKai. The OluKai will be a double-weekend for me because Saturday is the standup race, but I’m also competing in the OC1 on Sunday. Right after OluKai, I’m heading down to Mexico for the ISA World Championships. Then I go straight from Sayulita over to Europe for six weeks for a bunch of races over there. All the events kind of roll into each other. But then I’ll head home in July for all the Maui races and the Molokai 2 Oahu. I’ll go straight from there into Brazil, then Japan, then over to Cali for the BOP and all those fun ones. Then I head back to Hawaii for Turtle Bay, and after that I’m pretty much done for a short month. Then it all starts again.

How are you feeling going into all of that?

Well, since the Brazil contest got changed, I ended up getting an extra two weeks at home before the Carolina Cup, which was amazing. Instead of going from the contest in Brazil straight to North Carolina for the Cup, luckily I was able to stay home for two weeks. During that time there was a lot of training, photo shoots—all that fun stuff—but it was nice to get in a rhythm with training and eating before heading into this crazy schedule.

How is the transition from the Carolina Cup to the OluKai Ho’o?

Luckily it’s pretty easy for me, since the OluKai run is in my backyard and that’s what I do every day. It was more difficult going from my training at home to North Carolina, because over there there’s no wind. And if you’re not working with the wind, you’re paddling against it, which is always fun (laughs). Carolina is a flatwater race—Danny Ching’s favorite—so it’s fun to go battle him over there. Carolina makes the OluKai feel like a short sprint, because with the wind we’ve been having on Maui lately, eight miles goes by like a two-mile sprint on flatwater.

Who’s going to have the competitive edge at the OluKai Ho’olaule’a and why?

These days, everyone seems pretty equal in terms of riding swell and reading bumps, so now it’s about whoever can paddle over bumps faster. The extra edge of paddling over bumps and connecting them is going to make the difference for whoever crosses that finish line first.

Who are your predicted standouts this year?

I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of the normal guys. I’m not sure if Kai Lenny’s doing the race—he’s always doing his own thing—but there’s also Kody Kerbox and some other Maui people like Travis Baptiste, Zane Schweitzer and Livio Menalau. Then there’s the guys who are flying in like Danny Ching and Travis Grant. Those guys are always really strong, fast paddlers who always put up a good fight. It’s going to be an interesting battle. The field is pretty evenly mixed as far as people flying in versus people from Maui.

Any new training strategies going into the OluKai?

Earlier this year I spent a month in an intensive training program in New Zealand and it really opened my eyes to how professional athletes are training these days. So I’ve been applying that to my preparation for all the races. I’m training hard, spending a lot of time on the water, time on the board, time racing, and just enjoying it. Most of all, I’m just having fun with it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing that, I think that’s the secret key right there.

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Video: The Connor Baxter Campaign

Video: The Connor Baxter Campaign

With the summer race season merely a few moons away, and the 2015 Standup World Series promising to deliver an unprecedentedly impressive race circuit, contenders are preparing for battle. No contender displays more poise than reigning World Series champ, Connor Baxter. Baxter’s rivalry with Kai Lenny is as healthy as ever, adding ferocity to both competitors’ drive and promising to deliver serious drama in the highly-anticipated 2015 season. Judging from this edit, Baxter’s campaign looks tough to match, but with the likes of Lenny, Casper Steinfath, Kody Kerbox and a hand full of other title-worthy racers nipping at his heals, we’ll have to wait till June in Barcelona to see who’s been making the most of their off-season training.


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Starboard’s Connor Baxter World Champion!

Starboard's Connor Baxter World Champion!

Congratulations to Connor Baxter for winning the 2014 Stand Up World Series World Championship! What a great year Connor is having and it is only fitting that he is the World Champion.

Connor provided a recap for us below. There is no rest for Connor though, the BOP will be in 6 days and he for sure will give all the top Racers a run for their money in this the largest race of the year.

Good luck Connor and all the Starboard team riders!!


The 2014 Huntington Grand Slam was a great event. The contest started off on Tuesday with the trials for the surfing portion. The next day the main event started and I was in heat 10. The waves were funky and super hard to judge where to take off. I was sitting in second place but then Brennan got a great wave which narrowly put me in third place, so I had to go the loser round and had one more chance to make it to round three. So the next day I got ready for my next surf heat with Robin Johnson and Fernando Stella. This was a very close heat between all of us but I edged out the other two guys to advance to round three. This next round I had a super tough heat and surfed my best. But just got edged out.

I had one day to rest before the sprint race on Saturday through the waves. I got an epic meal and a lot of sleep so I was feeling ready to go. I woke up the next day feeling good and got warmed up for the first heat. I went out there for my first heat using 50% of my energy, knowing that I had a bunch of racing to do. I came in comfortably in the lead and that moved me onto the next round. For my next heat I played the same tactic and came in first, which put me into the semi finals.

The semi’s were definitely more stacked and I had to use a lot more energy, especially with the bad start I had. I barely made it into the finals, and I knew that this is the one that I had to be flawless on. I got ready and hit the water with the perfect start heading out to the first turn. I was a little behind but snuck into a wave with Kai, Mo and Casper. I knew I had to do something that was going to give me a lead on Kai coming into the last two events, so I turned right to get in front of Kai and Casper. This gave Mo and I a great lead coming into the second to last turn. I ran around the inside buoy and then got stuck on the inside. Casper and Mo somehow got out just a few board lengths ahead of me. I put my head down and sprinted as hard as possible to catch back up to them. They turned and then I turned shortly after and sprinted my butt of to catch the wave that I knew they would catch. I just got on it and the three of us headed into the beach on that same wave.

It was a crazy double up wave on the inside and Mo and I hung on and jumped off to sprint up the beach. With my longer legs I was able to outsprint him up the beach in first place. I was stoked to win – Because now I was one step closer to getting the overall title.

I rested up and got ready for the next day doing the long-distance. I got the course memorized and headed up to the start line. I was ready to give it my all and claim the title I have been working hard for. The horn blew and I sprinted to the beach and onto my board. There was a set breaking on the inside taking all of us out. I got back on my board and tried to make it over the next one but just fell on my stomach. I was far enough out that I snuck over the next one and was off to the first buoy. I jumped into the train in 5th place and caught my breath. When we turned the buoy there was some small bumps and I love small bumps – so I passed everyone and took the lead. I turned the downwind buoy in first place and started making my way up to the beach run. Everyone pulled behind me going upwind and then Jake was the only one to pull ahead and lead for a bit. Lucky he did this, because both of us barely snuck onto a wave into the beach, which allowed us to take an early lead. Jake and I just stayed out in front holding off the other guys. Always just barely ahead. It finally came to the last lap and I turned on my afterburners. I stayed in the lead most of the way but Jake caught up going to the last buoy. After the buoy turn, we caught the same wave heading to the finish – and then I caught another little bump that he didn’t get on all the way to the beach – coming in 1st place. I was super stoked to have won the event and claim the World Title.

Here are links to a couple of short video’s of the event.

I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Dakine, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Rainbow Sandals, Futures Fins, Argos App, UB Super, Virus Sportswear, Trident Sports, GoPro, OnIt Pro, Waterman’s Sunscreen, Garmin, Igloo Coolers, Hammer Nutrition, iDcard, Sunrite Maui, and Hi-Tech Sports.

Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers and all the volunteers. Great Event!!

Connor Baxter

You can stay in touch with Connor:
Join his Facebook page
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Subscribing to his blog
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Connor Wins Gorge Event – Clean Sweep!

Connor Wins Gorge Event - Clean Sweep!

ongratulations to Starboard’s Connor Baxter and Annabel Anderson for winning the annual Gorge event in Portland, OR.

These two amazing racers are on a roll this summer, winning just about every race they have entered. We look forward to the next upcoming events on the Stand up World Series (Sept 20) and the BOP (Oct 5).

In the meantime, enjoy this recap by Connor from the Gorge…

The 2014 Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge was an epic event. It was an action-packed two day weekend with three races.

Day one started with the flat water technical course race. It was about 5 miles – 5 lap course with a lot of buoy turns. All the men competitors were on 14 foot race boards. I had my Starboard 14′ Allstar.

The women went first and after they finished their race all the men lined up. There were about 50 Men Elite paddlers so the start line was packed. And – stacked with the best talent – Danny Ching, Travis Grant, Kai Lenny, Jake Jensen, Georges Cronsteadt, Kody Kerbox, Slater Trout, Chase Kosterlitz – just to name a few.

I was rail to rail with everyone around me, so when the horn blew and I went to take my first stroke I hit the board and went right over the handle bars. By the time I got up I was in about 25th place. I took a deep breath and said the race isn’t over until it’s over and started passing a few people.

When I got to the first buoy I was in about 18th place. Then the drafting line started and I hopped on the side of everyone and used the side wake to catch back up to the front. By the next buoy I was in about 10th and at that turn I passed a few more people.

And the next stretch was longer, so I was able to hop into fifth behind Danny, Jake, Travis and Kai. We all turned a few buoys and I started to notice Kai slowing down so I got on his side and passed him.

And now I was in fourth with 4 more laps to go. I stayed in that spot for a bit and then for the second to last lap I took the lead and led that lap. When we started the last lap the pace picked up behind me – so I did as well to stay in front.

Coming into the fourth to last buoy the pace picked up even more and I made sure to turn that buoy first. Lucky I did – because Georges tried to get the inside and took Danny out – which let Kody and Travis go around. All I heard was a splash and yelling and I took off and tried to hold the guys off until the finish.

I turned left, then right, then made my last left turn into the beach and knew I had it. I sprinted one last time and ran up in first with my board. I was super stoked to have won after that horrible start.

I got some great food and got a lot of sleep for the next days “double downwinder”. When I woke up the river was dead calm and super glassy. So for the two downwinders it wasn’t looking good. I went to the event site and after the meeting – there was still no wind.

As we drove up to the start, it got windier and windier. So as long as there were bumps – I was happy. The girls left 30 minutes before us and then we lined up and again we were super close to each other. So when the horn blew I was up and out. It went from flat to small bumps to bigger bumps and by the time we were halfway to the first buoy the bumps were fun. So Danny, Travis and I were up in front and having fun surfing the bumps.

We all stayed like this until the the next buoy. The wind died – so I knew I needed to get ahead and hold the OC1 paddlers off (Danny, Travis, Georges). Luckily there were some sloshy bumps which I love. So I just kept a steady pace and held the guys off and got to run up the beach with my board in first place.

After that finish, I knew I had another downwinder – so I got some UB Super in me, stretched out and got up to the start line. We had about 30 minutes until the next start. And we all lined up quickly because the wind was lightening up. This time I had a great start and took the lead pretty quickly from Jake. The bumps were there but you had to work hard. So I put my head down and found the rhythm and didn’t look back. I just did the same thing I did last time and held them off again. I ran up with my board for a clean sweep.

I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Dakine, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Rainbow Sandals, Futures Fins, UB Super, Virus Sportswear, Trident Sports, GoPro, OnIt Pro, Waterman’s Sunscreen, Garmin, Igloo Coolers, Hammer Nutrition, iDcard, Sunrite Maui, and Hi-Tech Sports.

Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers – Steve Gates, the excellent commentating by Al Paterson – and all the great volunteers. Fantastic Event!! A definite must for next year!!!

Connor Baxter

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