When Connor Baxter writes a recap of his races, it’s like being right there on the water with him. FOLLOW Connor on social media (links below) to get all his updates as they happen. You can get the full story from SUPRacer. Read his recap now:
(Connor Baxter) The 2016 Bilbao World SUP Challenge was another huge success. Every year this event is one of the biggest stops on the Euro Tour, with an elite field of paddlers and great weekend vibe.
After a few days relaxing through Paris and Bordeaux I got to the city on Wednesday. I did a nice jog along the river where the race was going to be held, to start visualizing and planning what I needed to do.
The race was being held during max high tide, so there was little current to worry about. For that reason I just had to focus on paddling. As it got closer to the contest day the nerves and excitement started to kick in and I was ready to go! This year the points were only on the distance race so that meant one day of 120% effort.
The race started at 4:30 in the afternoon, so it was a lazy morning of stretching and eating food before game time. When I got to the event site I set up my Starboard Sprint with my Manta Futures Fin and headed up to the starting line. It was a standing up rolling start and when that horn blew, I was a little caught off guard. I fell back into the super choppy water. Then, I managed to catch a few little wakes from everyone and got some clean water That’s when I started to get into my rhythm for the next 14 kilometers.
There were a total of six turns in the course and I knew that negotiating them well was the only way to drop the huge train that was lined up. There were a few huge surges that dropped some of the train, but the top ten guys hung on and were together for the whole race.
I felt really good and kept telling myself that “I got this”, which gave me a lot of energy to stay in the lead pack. Coming into the second to last turn the gear shifted and everyone had the pedal to the metal – and I dropped back to fifth place and was hurting, but then I got some inspiration from one of the greatest athletes Muhammad Ali, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” So I went in the next gear and started passing forth place and then into third before the last turn.
As I got closer to the final buoy turn I knew if I wanted a shot at winning I needed to be turning on the inside and be the first one to turn. So I sprinted again to get on Michael Booth’s inside for the turn. I quickly turned and put my head down for the final sprint. My body was cramping up, but I just kept telling myself – mind over matter – and I sprinted even harder, until I crossed the finish line in first place.
I was super stoked to win the distance race and knowing that there wasn’t a second day of racing was a great feeling. Now off to the fourth stop of the Euro Tour – San Sebastián!!
SUP water athletes are pioneers in a young sport that’s growing exponentially each year. Almost anyone of any ability level or age can find success and SUP adventure on almost any body of water. Over the past decade standup paddling, surfing, exploring and racing has grown from unknown to a sport followed by millions. Leading the culture, training, story and growth of the sport are a handful of elite athletes. Some of these men and women have been nominated for the 2014 SUP Awards. The categories you can vote for between now and September 11 are: Top 3 Male Paddlers,Top 3 Female Paddlers, Movie of the Year, Top Philanthropic Effort and Top Expedition.
SUP water athletes are pioneers in a young sport that’s growing exponentially each year. Almost anyone of any ability level or age can find success and SUP adventure on almost any body of water. Over the past decade standup paddling, surfing, exploring and racing has grown from unknown to a sport followed by millions. Leading the culture, training, story and growth of the sport are a handful of elite athletes. Some of these men and women have been nominated for the 2013 SUP Awards. The categories you can vote for between now and September 11 are: Top 3 Male Paddlers,Top 3 Female Paddlers, Movie of the Year, Top Philanthropic Effort and Top Expedition.
Connor Baxter battles a strong field to win the Oleron World Series in France – June 2013
The June 2013 Oleron Stand Up Paddle Challenge opened the European leg of the Stand Up World Series on the beautiful Oleron Island. Featuring one of the most stunning and challenging long distance courses combined with the exciting World Series Sprint Racing, Oleron Island is always an exciting stop for the 2013 Stand Up World Series.
This World Series event featured the world’s very best athletes, from Ratings leader Connor Baxter (Starboard), Kai Lenny (Naish), Jamie Mitchell, Beau O’Brian (Starboard) and Paul Jackson (Fanatic), to Europe’s leading lights Casper Steinfath (Naish), Leonard Nika (Starboard) and Bart de Swart (Starboard), the Oleron Stand Up Paddle Challenge will provide the ideal platform for competitive stand up paddle-racing.
The second stop of the 2013 European leg of the Stand Up World Series was the Bilbao World SUP Challenge, held in the Basque country of Spain. The Bilbao World SUP Challenge inspired the world’s best paddlers to the City to battle it out for the $20,000 prize-purse and all important ranking points on the Stand Up World Series. After breathtaking performances and close finishes throughout the series, Connor Baxter came out on top giving him a 100% winning record this year!
Connor Baxter surging his Starboard to speed – photo by Michael Terrien
June 10, 2013: In the words of Connor Baxter after paddling to his third straight win in the World Series Stop 3 for the World Series in Oleron, ” France was an amazing event. This was a two-day event and like always we had both a long distance and sprint races.”
A last-minute storm just before the start of the distance race created a change in the course distance from 30 km to 6.5 km due to heavy winds. The beach start in the storm conditions caused some chaos for the athletes. By the time the leaders arrived at the first buoy, Connor Baxter held the lead with Kai Lenny pushing a close second. He was followed by Casper Steinfath, Leonardo Nika and the rest of the elite field.
A bevy of spectator and filming boats created side chop and added to the difficult conditions. At a crucial moment one random choppy wave hit Connor and cause him to fall of the board. A quick scramble back and he was paddling hard, but the interruption gave Kai the break he needed to capture and hold the lead.
Day two of the series brought better, though cool, weather and a field of athletes raring to go in the sprints. As the heats progressed toward the final field, it was apparent that the competition was still strong. The heat was stacked with the world’s fastest racers all trained and ready to excel.
Along with Connor Baxter, Eric Terrien , Kai Lenny, Casper Steinfath, Jake Jensen, Leonardo Nika, Chase Kosterlitz, and Beau O’Brian were ready to sprint from the start.
From the moment of “GO!” in that final heat, Connor sprinted off the beach, into the water and didn’t look back. His fellow Starboard teammate Beau O’Brian was right beside Connor all the way to the first buoy. In spite of a fall at the second buoy, Connor had a good distance in front of second place.
With two more buoys to go, Connor’s strategy was simple, “I just kept my head down and my paddling on full throttle. I pretty much had it in the bag after I turned the third buoy and the last buoy but I didn’t let up – just in case. I caught a bunch of little swells on the way in and secured my first place.”
Casper Steinfath came in second then Connor’s Starboard teammate Beau O’Brian in third. It was a sweet win for Baxter who stayed focused and positive in spite of battling health issues just last year. The grin on his face said it all. This is a waterman whose heart and passion for what he does inspires us all. Find Connor Baxter, water athlete, on Facebook.
Connor Baxter, Dave Kalama, Kai Lenny, Suzie Cooney and all the elite SUP racers are in the front ready for a challenging run.
“The Olukai Ho’olaule’a is a great event. Every year paddlers look forward to competing at this event in the infamous Maliko downwinder. The day started out with rain and very light winds. But, when driving down along the north shore we could see that the wind was picking up and the rain had stopped – and there were a few whitecaps. It was looking like it was going to be a good day. Driving into Maliko Gulch, I knew there were going to be a bunch of people – there were cars parked all the way out to the highway – and it was only 10am. What a great turnout.
Once we got there – I checked in and got my board ready. And, of course had to say hi to everyone. At 11:30 we had a pule, a Hawaiian prayer and then all 300+ of us hit the water for a 12:00 start. It was a water start on the outside of the bay. The wind was a little onshore so I decided to start further outside. Once we were all lined up on the water the boat waved a yellow flag so we got ready to race. And bam the green flag went up and I sprinted right from the beginning. Dave Kalama and I pulled away right from the beginning and like always – were just trading off back and forth.
Dave Kalama showing his powerful form making his way to a strong finish
Once we got to outer Baldwin I knew I had to put a gap on Dave. So I put my head down and I shifted into 6th gear and didn’t stop until I had a comfortable lead. Once I was a little ahead, I got into a steady rhythm and kept going.
Coming into Camp One I was a little nervous, because I didn’t have a leash and there were waves. So I caught a medium size one and stepped to the tail and rode the wave to the inside. Once I hit the flat water I just kept my head down and sprinted all the way to the finish.
Awesome shot captured by Terry Marie Galpin
I had a good lead of a minute and a half on Dave – and two and a half minutes on Kai in third place. I hit the beach and ran all the way to the finish line and spur of the moment I got a great idea to dolphin dive across the finish line – even though there was no one even close to me.
Overall it was a great event and I had a lot of fun and really stoked to defend my title and hope to do it again next year! I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Maui Jim, Rainbow Sandals, Trident Sports, Rista Fins, Dakine, GoPro, OnIt Pro, Waterman’s Sunscreen, Igloo Coolers, Sunrite Maui, Hammer Nutrition, iDcard, EFX and Hi-Tech Sports. Also a big
Mahalo to all the event organizers and volunteers.”