Connor Baxter in Europe – 1st Stop France




By Connor Baxter

I arrived in Nice on Thursday afternoon – 2 days before the race. But – unfortunately my Starboard Race board did not show up at the airport. Yannick, who organizes the Event, picked both Bart and me up at the airport and we drove to the Event Site. Sainte Maxime is a Mediterranean town located north of Saint Tropez.

The Event was hard, but a great event. The first day they kicked it off with a 7km race. And – my Starboard Race Board – made it to the beach 30 minutes before the race stared! 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 outside, 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 was the only part of the race with the wind helping us. I lead to the first buoy and made a quick buoy turn and sprinted to the next buoy. 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. I used my famous signature Connor Baxter stroke and kept 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 finally lap we were still neck and neck, 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. 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 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 into the wind. We stayed right next to each other until a freak swell came from no where and he caught it and I miss 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!!!!!

Aloha -
Connor Baxter

All photos below by Michel Terrien – on Facebook

Link to his album:











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