Connor Baxter In Europe: “My SUP Race Cup Insights”
Connor Baxter was in great form at the French “SUP Race Cup” on the weekend, leading from start to finish to take out Saturday’s Beach Race in extreme conditions, before battling to the line with Travis Grant in Sunday’s Distance Race.
Connor and Trav had an epic duel all weekend and were the clear standouts of the event, so keep reading to hear Connor’s thoughts on how it went down…
First Week of the Euro Tour by Connor Baxter
I arrived in Nice on Thursday afternoon, two days before the start of the SUP Race Cup, but unfortunately my Starboard Race board didn’t show up at the airport…
Yannick, who organizes this event, picked both Bart and me up at the airport and we drove to the event site at Sainte Maxime, which is a Mediterranean town just to the north of the famous Saint Tropez.
The event was hard, but it was great. The first day they kicked it off with a 7km race. My Starboard Race Board made it to the beach 30 minutes before the race started! Great timing!
The wind was blowing straight offshore, which made it very difficult in every way. The course was simple, but with the winds blowing around 20-25 knots, made it very interesting and anybody could win it.
The first buoy was straight out in front and really close to the shore, so I tried to line up with it as best as I could. I lined up in about knee-deep water and waited for the horn to blow. Once I heard that horn blow, I went into beast mode and like always paddled like crazy to that first buoy. Going to the first mark it was a short sprint with the wind on our backs.
This 50 metres of paddling was the ONLY part of the race where the wind helping us…
I lead to the first buoy and made a quick turn and sprinted to the next one. The wind made it very hard to paddle, but training at Kahului Harbor every morning with the wind honky made this race ideal for me, so I used my signature stroke and was able to hold the lead.
As I got closer to the next mark, Travis Grant pulled up next to me and was paddling super hard. This just made me get even more energized and I put it in 5th gear and stayed right next to him. We made the buoy turn and we were off to the next buoy. We stayed side by side the for the rest of the 3 laps.
On the final lap we were still neck and neck, right up until the last buoy. Going into this buoy turn I knew it was going to have to be the best turn ever if I wanted to win this. So bam, I whipped my board around and put my head down until I saw sand and jumped off my board and ran up in first. I was super stoked to beat such a fast paddler, but I knew the next day was going to be a grind with the long distance race.
I showed up to the beach on Sunday for the long distance race and filled my water pack, drank my Hammer Nutrition and was ready for battle. For the distance race we had to do a beach start, which are always my favorite.
Once we all got lined up for the start the horn blew and we were off again.
I knew today was going to be long, so I decided to start off strong, but when I rounded that first buoy I jumped into the famous “draft train”. I normally hate doing this, but everyone else was, so I decide why not.
This race was 18 kilometers and we all stayed in a pack of 10 or 15 for the first half of the race. Going to the far mark it was all upwind, which sucked. But I knew as soon as I turned that buoy – it was game time – downwind! So I stayed in the train and once we rounded that buoy I took off like a bat out of hell.
I used every bump to help me get ahead. And, of course Travis Grant had the same idea. So we both pulled away from the pack and once again we were side by side. As the bumps got better and better I started to pull ahead of Travis. I lead all the way until the second to last buoy and all of a sudden Travis some how caught back up and we turned the buoy and had a one mile sprint straight to the line, straight into the wind.
We stayed right next to each other until a freak swell came from nowhere and he caught it and I missed out. This allowed him to come in first and put me into second. Overall I was super happy on both of my finishes. And now it is time for the next battle up in Germany – in just a couple days!
I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Rainbow Sandals, Trident Sports, 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. Fantastic Event! I’ll be back next year for sure!!