May 12, 2013
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

Connor Baxter In His Own Words: Winning OluKai Back-To-Back

Connor Baxter's OluKai flying finish

Connor Baxter’s flying finish at OluKai 2013 (photo © Anae Anderson)

Boss Man’s note: Connor Baxter won yesterday’s massive OluKai SUP Race on Maui in impressive style, finishing clear of Downwind King Dave Kalama, arch rival Kai Lenny and a stack of other elite paddlers.  The win gives Connor back-to-back OluKai titles and continues his stellar form in the first half of 2013, where he’s been virtually unbeatable.

Connor was good enough to share his thoughts after the win, which you can see below. Also be sure to check out the full 2013 OluKai results when you’re done. A total of 336 stand up paddlers crossed the finish line. Awesome!

2013 OluKai SUP Race Recap by Connor Baxter

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.

OluKai 2013 Stand Up Paddle race

The start of OluKai 2013 as seen from the cliffs. There’s 336 stand up paddlers out there… (photo © Karen Baxter)

Dave Kalama and I pulled away right from the beginning and like always – were just trading off back and forth. 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.

Connor Baxter - OluKai SUP Race

Connor about to hit the shore for the final run to the finish line (photo © Karen Baxter)

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.

– Connor Baxter

1st: Connor Baxter, Maui (0:50:04)
2nd: Dave Kalama, Maui (0:51:39)
3rd: Kai Lenny, Maui (0:52:35)
4th: Slater Trout, Maui (0:52:54)
5th: Scott Gamble, Oahu (0:53:19)
6th: Georges Cronsteadt, Tahiti (0:53:26)

>>> See the full 2013 OluKai SUP Race Results

OluKai 2013 SUP Race winners

The 2013 OluKai SUP Race podium finishers… L-R: Georges Cronsteadt, Scott Gamble, Slater Trout, Kai Lenny, Dave Kalama, Connor Baxter (photo © Karen Baxter)