Battle of the Paddle Hawaii – Recap from Connor Baxter



What a weekend. I did it. I placed in the MONEY in the Elite Race – and I placed in the money in the Long Distance Race. I was the on the Podium twice this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Photo above: Connor on the Podium for the Elite Race

The Battle of the Paddle Hawaii took place this weekend at Fort DeRussy in Waikiki. The event started on Saturday with races in the Open Age Division, at noon. The Elite Race – which offers the prize money – followed and was held at 3:00 in the afternoon. I entered the Elite Race – and my goal was to be in the top ten – in The Prize Money and on the podium.

The competitor list was one of the who’s who’s in the SUP World. Intimidating – Yeah!!! Which meant getting on the podium would be just that much more sweet.

The Elite race was about 5+ miles long, in and out from the shore, around buoys, through surf, into flat water and included sprinting on the beach. Quite complicated. It was super hot, the wind changed directions from side shore to offshore – it was a grueling and challenging race. It was non stop paddling and total mindset.

For the Elite Race, all competitors must be on 12′6″ boards maximum – and when registering you have to measure your board to make sure it fits into the regulations. I was on my Starboard 12′6″ Surf Race – which was an excellent board for this race course!!!

The start was a running beach start – and with 100+ competitors it was a fight to get a good position and good start. My start was not great, as I got pinned between Chuck Patterson and another competitor, so I had to slow down and get behind them so that I could even paddle. Fortunately, we all started furthest upwind, which gave us a better line to the first mark. I rounded the first mark in about 15th place and kept this position for the first lap. By the second lap I started catching up and worked up to about 11th pace. The final third lap I made up the most ground and actually caught up to 7th place, but on the last buoy after I rounded it, the 8th place guy caught a wave and passed 2 of us.

I finished in 8th Place – In the Money and On the Podium. This was a fun, grueling, challenging event – with a great feeling of accomplishment at the end.

After the awards ceremony – I ate 2 dinners – got a good night sleep – and was ready for the next day’s events.

Sunday was the Long Distance race which had 200+ competitors. I had to check in at 8:00am at Hawaii Kai. By 9:45am, we had the briefing, which told us what we had to do. At 10:00 we were at the start line and ready to go. Around 10:03 we were off. Right from the get go everyone on flat water unlimited boards pulled into the front. By the time, I rounded the outside marker and started to head downwind I was at least in 17th place over all. Thirty minutes into the race I caught all the way up to 3rd place. By the time I passed the half way point I was in second place. For 20 minutes I held second place but then the third place guy, which was on a flat water 18 footer, passed me with only thirty more minutes left of the race. Close to the finish, all I could hear is my mom and dad and a lot of other people screaming my name saying “Come on Connor” and “they are right behind you” – who were Dave Kalama and Travis Grant finishing seconds behind.

I finished in 3rd place Overall – again in the Money and on the Podium. Also got 1st place in my Division – in the Long Distance. What a great weekend. What a fantastic feeling.

I want to thank Starboard for all their support and for making great boards and paddles!! I also want to thank my other sponsors for their help and support – Nike 6.0, Mark Raaphorst at SIC, Dakine, Sunrite Maui, Waterman’s Sunscreen, and Ion Wetsuits.

Aloha -
Connor Baxter

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3 Responses to “Battle of the Paddle Hawaii – Recap from Connor Baxter”

  1. Fred Hyun 1Fred Hyun

    Good one Evan! Connor is a terrific young man. Looking forward to seeing big things for him in the future. Parents Karen and Keith, are fantastic and super supportive.

  2. Sand Sock Girl 2Sand Sock Girl

    Yay! I’m happy for you, job well done! Woot!

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