2011 Naish Paddle Championships – Recap by Connor Baxter

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Recap of Sunday’s Event by Connor – and Winning the 12′6″ SUP Division:

The 2011 Naish Paddle Championships Maui Event was held on Sunday July 24th. The race is from Maliko Gulch to Kahului Harbor – a 9.54 mile downwinder.

There were 238 competitors from Europe, Japan, Tahiti, the US Mainland, Australia, Brazil, and Hawaii participating in the 6th Annual Event.

The forecast leading up to the event was pretty grim. Winds were getting lighter and rainsqualls were expected. Watching the newscast the night before was not very encouraging!

Driving to the event with Bart de Zwart, Chuck Patterson and my mom around 11:00 looked dreary – overcast and not a whitecap in site.

Luckily the race didn’t start until 1:00pm. And, that was just enough time for the trade winds to start kicking in. Watching the wind fill in, seeing some whitecaps – what a wonderful site!!!

The skippers meeting was at noon, followed by a Hawaiian Blessing – Pule – which is always a great way to start the race.

The start was inside Maliko Gulch between buoys. And there were 4 staggered starts for the different divisions. The starting sequence was Prone paddlers first, followed by the 12′6″ SUP Class – which I was in, then the 14′ SUP Class, and finally the Unlimited SUP’s. There were three minutes between starts.

My goal was to be the first SUP to hit the beach – and not let anyone pass me – no matter what board they were on.

So, when it was our turn to go – and that horn blew – I knew what I had to do. I sprinted hard right from the get go and I was the first to round the point outside Maliko.

It was good having the prone paddlers in front of me, because it helped pushed me to stay in front. I was really stoked, because I was catching some good bumps, the wind was decent and I was staying in front of the other SUP’s. When I got closer to the finish, I started to see Jamie Mitchell in front and then I really turned it on to try to catch up to him. But I just couldn’t catch him. So I ended up being second to the beach – but I was the FIRST SUP. And, since I did have a head start – I was fifth Overall and only 4 minutes behind the first place finisher – Dave Kalama on an Unlimited and I was on a Starboard 12′6″ Surf Race.

It was a great event from the Pule to the Downwinder to the Finish where there was great food, live entertainment – lots of people; all around it was just a fun beach day with all my friends and family.

But – then there were the Awards!!! And – You are not going to believe what I won!!!

The Waterman League gave the 14′ and 12′6 Classes extra awards for the First to finish.

And, the award for the winner of the 12′6ft Class, was a Roundtrip flight to Fiji with accommodations for the Namotu World Paddle Challenge on November 13th-18th. Thank you Tristan!!!

Fiji – is now on the Race Schedule.

I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Rainbow Sandals, Maui Jim Sunglasses, EFX Technology, Dakine, Nike 6.0, GoPro Cameras, On It Pro, Waterman’s Sunscreen, Sunrite Maui, SIC and Hi-Tech Sports.

Also a big Mahalo to Maliko Watersports, John Gangini and Blair Thorndike and all the event organizers and volunteers.

Aloha -
Connor Baxter

 
Photos: Karen Baxter!!

Team Starboard: Zane, Connor, Brian & Bart

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Team Starboard: Tiffany & Anne-Marie

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Start of 12′6 Division:

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Zane & Connor:

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Finish – coming into Kahului Harbor:

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First SUP to Finish!!!!

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Sprint up the Beach:

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Awards and Fiji Trip:

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