Trident Sports Blog

Category: Standup

  1. Connor Wins the Pacific Paddle Games The Super Bowl of SUP

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    The 2017 Pacific Paddle Games was another huge success and an epic show. As always it took place at the infamous Doheney State Park in Dana Point California. It was a two day race on Saturday and Sunday with nonstop action.

    The first day was basically a warm-up day with only one race heat to do. The top 10 from the heat made it to the semi finals, which took place on Sunday. So as always when that horn blew I went all out to the first buoy turn and was able to catch a few bumps to the next buoy. Once I was comfortably in the top five I was able to let off the throttle a bit and focus on technique and conserving energy. It was a two lap race so I just conserved energy and was able to run up in third place and into the semi finals. I got a great meal and a good night sleep, because the next day was going to be a long, intense day of nonstop paddling.

    Sunday’s schedule consisted of the long distance race in the morning, then the semifinals midday and finally to wrap up the whole day we finished it with the technical finals.

    I woke up early and went to the beach to get warmed up and get my equipment ready. For the distance race I geared up my 2018 Sprint 14×23 with my Manta Future Fin.

    It started at 8:30 with a water start and I lined myself up with a straight shot to the first turn. The horn blew and I sprinted as hard as I could, but got caught in the traffic just behind the top few guys. I stayed in the draft in about fifth place with one thing on my mind and that was to save energy to win it. It was a two lap course outside of the surf zone, but there was some wind that broke the top five guys away from the pack of hungry paddlers. The first lap basically stayed the same and I just conserved energy and caught as many bumps as possible. The top five hung in together until the last stretch from the far south buoy to the last right-hand turn into the finish line. There were some nice bumps going with us to the last buoy so I put my head down and did what I do best. I was able to stick with Danny and Michael just before we had to turn. That’s where I made my move and kicked into sixth gear – allowing me to turn the buoy first. There were no waves to help but I just kept hammering and catching as many little bumps as possible all the way up the beach in first place.

    I was super stoked to win the distance race, but I knew it wasn’t over yet. I still had to race the semifinals and the finals, so a lot more work to be done.

    My semifinals was definitely stacked with the top 6 distance men in the first semifinals. I didn’t have the best start but was able to pull back up in the front towards the end of the race – for a 5th place finish. There was an hour in between the next race so I took a quick power nap and got refueled. I was not only excited to race against the best considering this is the Super Bowl of stand up paddling, but that this race year is finally coming to end!

    I got lined up and picked my position on the start line for a straight line to the first buoy. The race horn sounded and I hit the water full speed! Casper and I got the best starts and sprinted hard to that first buoy.

    I was able to have a nice first turn not getting to caught up in the madness behind me. From that point on I wanted to make it clear that I was here to win! The top four of us made a quick turn the next buoy and that’s where I knew I could spread the field out going downwind with the bumps and small swell. I broke away a couple of board lengths, but Lincoln Dews eventually caught me back up. For the entire rest of the course, Lincoln and a battled it out switching places back and forth. On the second lap at the inside bouy Lincoln got my inside line and from there on out I knew it was going to be a grind. We picked up the pace and we’re talking back and forth before each bouy turn to make sure we had a clean turn. On the last lap we both caught a wave again to that inside bouy but this time I wasn’t letting him get the inside line. I hammered away out of that second to last turn and Lincoln stayed right behind me. On the last turn I put my head down and gave it everything I had left. I pulled a board length ahead of Lincoln and got a little bump. Right before the finish Lincoln caught a wave and almost caught me, but I sprinted to the finish and was able to outlast Lincoln on the run up the beach.

    This is my 3rd PPG Title – but this one is extra special. It was my goal to win both the distance and course race and I finally won the PPG with a clean sweep.

    Couldn’t do it with out all the help from my sponsors and family! What an incredible weekend and year!!

    I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Salt Life, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Futures Fins, Harmless Harvest Coconut Water, Dakine, Hammer Nutrition, GoPro, Garmin, Waterman’s Sunscreen, OnIt Pro, UB Super and Hi-Tech Sports.

    Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers, sponsors, race director and all the volunteers. Epic Event!!

    Aloha,
    Connor Baxter

    You can stay in touch with Connor:

    Join his Facebook page www.facebook.com/connorbaxterathlete

    Following him on Instagram www.instagram.com/conbax

    Twitter www.twitter.com/ConBax

    Subscribing to his blog www.connorbaxter.com/blog

    YouTube channel www.youtube.com/user/baxconnor

    Mahalo for all the Photos by “Georgia Schofield/ Starboard”

  2. The Fastest Man on a Paddle Board?

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    Interview with 2016 APP World Champion, Connor Baxter

    Connor Baxter is making a name for himself in watersports. The twenty-two-year-old Maui-born waterman is fast becoming recognized as stand up paddle boarding’s elite male athlete, owning an impressive list of first-place finishes, including winning the overall 2016 APP World Tour title.

    In 2017, the pressure to remain on top has increased. The surge in popularity of stand up paddle boarding has brought with it a great swell of talent, talent that is now paddling hungrily after the Champion and constantly raising the bar of competition.

    We caught up with Connor before he kicks off his 2017 season to learn more about his passion for paddle boarding, his motivation to be the best in the world, and his thoughts on this year’s APP World Tour.

    Connor Baxter

    Connor grew up in and around the Pacific Ocean waves. Born to watersport athletes, at the age of eight he entered competitions in surfing and windsurfing – sports which nurtured the athletic ability and tactical mindset that serve him so well.

    Paddle boarding for the first time aged eleven, it wasn’t until he first tasted competition at fourteen that Connor really embraced the sport, winning the inaugural 2010 Maui2Molokai. It’s a race that he has never lost.

    “Winning my first race really gave me that stoke,” Connor remembers. “I beat a couple of older guys and took home a bit of prize money which is always nice. Paddle boarding has been a passion of mine ever since and I’ve been training super hard and travelling the world because of it.”

    Connor’s 2016 season was packed full of big races (eighteen in total throughout the year). Although supported by his sponsor, Starboard Stand Up Paddle Surfing, the travelling involved with so many competitions can be exhausting. “It’s the most challenging thing,” Connor explains. “At home the routine is great – you can eat your normal breakfast, sleep in your own bed, and have a solid day of training. Travelling breaks that all up, so it can be pretty tough to stay on form.”

    “I want to make a name for myself, like Laird Hamilton

    Maintaining form is challenging for any elite athlete, not least one who spends most of the year touring the world and living out of a suitcase. Self-discipline is essential to success, and Connor has it in abundance. He is part of a generation that embraces the general trend of health and well-being, using the wealth of information on offer to great effect.

    Connor realizes his consistent performances rest on two core principles: the right diet and keeping fit. “It’s hard to keep fit on the water when travelling,” he admits. “I do a lot of core foundation training and calisthenics. Oh, and a lot of running – you can run anywhere. When I’m at home, I’ll mix up my paddle boarding with swimming and cycling to give my joints a rest.”

    Connor feeds his intensely active lifestyle with what he likes to call ‘premium fuel.’ “I keep a pretty strict diet,” he says. “I eat three meals a day consisting mainly of protein, vegetables and high-quality grains like quinoa and sorghum. I also try to cut out bread and gluten. Again, this is something that’s hard to maintain on the road, but when I’m home I’m usually good about my food.”

    A good diet and attitude he must have, as the talent rising from the ranks in professional paddle boarding is putting more and more pressure on the World Champion to stay in peak condition and on top of the roster. Rivalry is fierce to be ranked among the top twenty paddle boarders in 2017, as demonstrated by the number of immensely capable athletes on the APP World Tour.

    But is Connor feeling the pressure?

    “It’s getting harder to maintain a peak level across all events,” he says. “If you look at the competition now, Casper Steinfath is winning a lot of the sprints and Michael Booth is winning a lot of the long distance. All the competition is really focused and training hard, which at the end of the day is great for the sport, but definitely harder for me!”

    The growing number of competitors suggests that professional paddle boarding is slowly but surely pushing itself in front of a bigger audience. Having been involved in the sport since its infancy, Connor appreciates more than most how far it has come in recent years.

    “The sport is growing every year,” he says. “More people are wanting to watch it and try it; the competitors are out there, and the bar keeps being raised.” Connor certainly isn’t wary of dreaming big for paddle boarding. “I see the sport continuing to grow and hopefully one day it will be part of the Olympics.”

    It might be a dream to represent the USA at the biggest sporting event in the world, but thanks to the efforts of many within the paddle boarding community, especially those at the APP, that dream may eventually become a reality. The APP and other big-time event organizers are providing fantastic platforms for athletes like Connor to go out and make a name for themselves, and the 2016 Champion is looking to repay these efforts.

    “My main focus this year is definitely the APP World Tour,” Connor states. “The 2017 stops look insane and it’s great to see the places that worked so well last year, like Germany and Maui, are still on the schedule. I’d love to retain the overall title.”

    Connor on the APP World Tour 2016

    It’s going to be another year of hard work for him, as the 2017 APP World Tour alone has eight stops. It looks like the challenging routine of travelling will have to be met head-on yet again!

    In sport, the harder you work the greater the reward, and it’s clear what reward Connor seeks. “I want to make a name for myself, like Laird Hamilton,” he smiles. “When I was a kid, my Dad saw Laird on a paddle board doing lengths up and down Baldwin Beach Park on Maui’s North Shore. Even back then, my Dad said, ‘That’s going to be the sport’.”

    As Connor keeps pushing himself to victory in 2017 and beyond, one thing is certain: the boy from Maui is well on track to one day being recognized among elite watermen like Laird Hamilton. But Connor is quick to add that this goal should never compromise the one piece of advice by which he tries to live: “Always have fun, and never give up.”

    Catch Connor on the 2017 APP World Tour at the Maui Pro-AM: March 10-12.

  3. Team Starboard Winning on Production Boards

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    After such great results by our team at the Pacific Paddle Games (Connor Baxter  – Overall Men’s Champion) and (Fiona Wylde –  3rd Overall Women’s), we wanted to remind you that Our Team Riders are Winning on Production Boards – boards that the end consumer can ride and buy!

    We have spent a lot of time on R&D and our masterminds have created production race boards that win in all conditions – the All Star, Sprint and ACE are proven winners!

    Take a look at just a few Team Starboard 1st place finishes for the 2015 season:

    1. European Tour Champion – Connor Baxter (Starboard holds 5 of top 10 positions)  – All Star and Sprint
    2. ISA SUP Technical Race Champion – Connor Baxter – All Star
    3. 1st Place Barcelone SUWS – Connor Baxter – All Star
    4. 1st Place Japan Cup Women – Fiona Wylde – Allstar
    5. Italian Surf Expo SUWS – Zane Schweitzer – All Star
    6. Bilbao World Cup SUWS – Titouan Puyo – Sprint
    7. Deep SUP Race- (Euro Tour) – Roman Frejo and Ane Zulaika – All Star
    8. Happy Summer SUP Race Namur (Euro Tour) – Titouan Puyo – All Star
    9. Lost Mills Distance – Connor Baxter – Sprint
    10. Lost Mills Fastest Paddler on Earth- Trevor Tunnington – Sprint
    11. SUP Race Cup France (Euro Tour) – Titouan Puyo – All Star
    12. St’Ives Bay Celtic Cup (Euro Tour) – Connor Baxter and Fiona Wylde – All Star
    13. 12 Towers BOP – Shakira Westdorp – All Star
    14.  NZ SUP Champs – Daniel Hasulyo – ACE
    15. Harry’s Paddle AUS – Trevor Tunnington – Sprint
    16. Ultimate Waterman Distance – Connor Baxter (Starboard holds 4 out of 8 positions – ACE
    17. Australian Flatwater SUP fest – Trevor Tunnington – Sprint
    18. Noosa Festival of Surfing BOP Race – Shakira Westdorp – All Star
    19. NJR PRO CUP (New Caledonia) – Titouan Puyo – All Star
    20. Phuket SUP Race – Ollie O’Reilly – All Star
    21. Forster Island Distance – Titouan Puyo – All Star
    22. Code Red NZ – Zane Schweitzer – All Star
    23. Heaps more local and National Race winners and Champions for sure!!
  4. 2015 Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge

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    The 5th annual CGPC went off with plenty of drama this year.  After a windy week with some benchmark windy days hitting wind speeds the 30 mph range.  The Thursday and Friday before the event we had some of the best swell we have seen on the Gorge in a few weeks so those who got here early were rewarded with some epic down winding conditions.  The CGPC suddenly started filling with the worlds best athletes after some other major events in our industry were cancelled which led to the largest event in 5 years.  Unfotuanley a tragic accident happened the day before the event when a paddler from Florida fell off his board in big windy columbia gorge conditions and was never to be seen again. There were search parties organized by many of the events athletes and I spent 2 hours combing the banks with binoculars and by foot.  Unfortunately as I write this Andreas Pombo is still missing.  Everyone here at Starboard/Trident send out our deepest thoughts and prayers for his safe return.  We will still keep looking and the local authorities in the Gorge spent 3 full days of organizing and conducting searches in very unfavorable and challenging conditions.  A fund has been setup so please make a donation if you have the ability.  http://www.gofundme.com/cz2js8sw

    The Juniors had over 60 paddlers with a very competitive field so it was actually divided into Juniors and Super Juniors classes.  Then we saw the Open class with a massive field as well.  Over all there were over 300 paddler at this years CGPC.  The event was very well attended and even though there were no windy days everyone had a great time and got a chance to sneak a peek at some of the 2016 gear that is just hitting the water.  It was obvious that the Starboard brand is very popular by the number of Blue boards on the water.  The Allstar has proven its performance in the Gorge and has become one of the better downwind, flat water, and rough water (one board does it all) board that took podium spots in nearly every class.  

    2015 Gorge Paddle Challenge

    The start of the day on Saturday with the gross was quite spectacular and in fact many of the juniors would also be competing in the open classes because they are so strong at such a young age.  The open classes on Saturday would be a 4 lap/mile race with some unreal athletes.  I rode the 14×23 Allstar and got a win in my age category with a 4th overall finish just behind my team mate MaCrae Wilde who got me by one board length and put in an amazing effort at 52 years young.  Then the women Eoite start went off and Fiona Wilde help the lead until the last lap when she had a serious billable for the podium and ended up in 3rd with an amazing spirit to the line against Angela Jackson.  The men’s pos was an amazing field with competitors from over 20 different countries and one of the most stacked fields I have ever seen in a race.  It was Connor Baxter on the 2016 Allstar 14×23 with an amazing hole shot start.  bUt after 5 grueling miles and some major tactical errors and line choices that almost changed the finish order.  In the end it was Titouan Piyou on the 14×23 Allstar who was able to contest the second place spot but settled fro third after a huge sprint to the line against 3 other paddlers.  It was hot and the smoke hanging in the air was making breathing more uncomfortable than it should have been.  There are dozens of fires burning near Hood River in Oregon and Washington and the lack of wind meant smoke was sitting and clogging the airways of some of the worlds best paddlers making an already challenging “W” course with almost 10 turns per lap!  In the end Danny Ching hung on to the win after a huge mistake that cost him substantial margin ahead of 2nd place.  We were especially proud of Titouan and Connor for their top 5 finishes.

    2015 Gorge Paddle Challenge

    Day 2 was supposed to be a double downwinder with 2 runs that would be added together for an overall time, but the lack of wind meant it would deb a flatwater distance race for one 7 mile race from Viento to Hood River which is the downwind “run” but this turned into a tactical race of drafting and current reading while paddling Upstream against the biggest river in the Northwest with almost 5 knots of opposing current in some spots.  When the horn went off for the Elite classes it was an amazingly fast start and in the end we saw some serious draft trains meaning the race would start just before the finish and this made for some very dramatic finishes including Fiona Wilde against Terrene Black for an all out sporting that landed Fiona in 2nd place for another top finish for Team Starboard in the Elite women’s class.  Maris Buchanan (10th place) and Shannon Bell (6th place) from England and Canada respectively also had epic performances.  In the mens it was an insane race between about 10 athletes trying to chase down Georges from Tahiti, but he lost steam and the “peloton” of drafters were eating up breakaway athletes just like a bike race as they move much faster as a drafting group than anyone out there on their own.  At the last buoy the group broke up and it was an all out sprint for the last 300 meters to the finish.  It was obvious the heat and increasesed pace of this race was taxing athletes and the sprint in the end was just too much for many athletes who had left too much on the water and didn’t save anything for a sprint finish, that is unless you were Titouan Piyou (3rd), Beau Obrien (4th), Connor Baxter (5th) and Giogio Gomez (9th)  who all Sprinted to the line for a top ten finish.  There were def some major route decisions that really liked up the pack and those who could hang on to the draft trains were able to improve their performances and shake up a star studded filed of racers who might normally see themselves a lot higher in the finishing results.  In the open class it was a mad dash to find the smooth water at the start and set a good pace that you know you can maintain for 1.5 hours of grueling flat conditions against current, through subsurface vegetation, lots of other people board chop and some boat traffic.  IN the end it was a super tough race and you could see it on the faces of the finishers as they came into the beach of the Riverfront Park in Hood River.  Congrats to Macrae Wilde for a top ten finish and to all the senior and junior athletes who paddled a Starboard and survived a long race to the finish.  Big shout out to Derek Fromm as well for his awesome performance and always positive attitude.  Look out for this guy in the future he is one of the fastest in the NW and will soon be a player in the Men’s Elite class.    

    2015 Gorge Paddle Challenge

    Overall it was a bittersweet weekend with lots of smiles and tears and it was definitely a tough decision for the organizers to deal with the Andreas tragedy and the No wind conditions but I have to give them all a huge hats off for another epic years of racing and fun for everyone who came to this magical region to play and race on their SUP boards.  Starboard/Trident would also like thank everyone who organized, volunteered, supported, and/or participated in  the 5th annual Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge.  We would also like to send a huge THANK YOU to Big Winds and Steve Gates (including his whole BW crew) for adding so much to our paddling community and the sport.  

  5. Black Creek Outfitters does Starboard SUP Polo

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    Andrew Crane and the gang at Black Creek Outfitters tries their hand at SUP Polo.

    This was the first actual event that I shot aerial footage of during one of the first ever stand up paddle board polo games. I was surprised to discover that it looks quite tiring, and fun!

    Lots of objective hazards for a drone. paddles, balls flying over water, etc. Got pretty close to the athletes, and everything went smoothly!

    Props to Matt Hite for pushing the evolution of SUP. a BOSS. Black Creek Outfitters, Jacksonville, FL.

     

  6. Easy Rider does SUP Polo

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    Easy Rider in Edmonton hosted their first SUP Polo Tournament a few days ago, and the reviews were +++!

    What a blast!   There was more laughter than any SUP event I have ever been a part of.

    Check out some of the pics:

  7. SUP the Mag Profile on Jessica Rando

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    SUP the Mag recently profiled Canadian Starboard Team paddler Jessica Rando in their latest issue:

    Ontario’s Jessica Rando is no newbie to winning in paddle sports. The Canadian is a World Champion Dragon Boat Racer, Canada’s Sprint Canoe National Champion and a Pan American Canoe and Kayak Champion. She also competed as a lightweight rower in college, and now competes in SUP while running a paddling business, The Paddle Coach. With her experience as a top competitor across multiple paddle sports, it’s no surprise that Rando began to win titles shortly after taking up standup paddling. Here, we get to know one of Canada’s top SUP women.

    Read the whole story on SUP the Mag’s website.

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