Connor takes out the Kerama Blue Cup in Japan – Event Recap by Connor Baxter


Connor takes out the Kerama Blue Cup in Japan


The 2018 Kerama Blue Cup was an event to remember, with its stunning blue water and amazing island life style. It was definitely a mission to get here for me coming from Hawaii with 20 hours of traveling to Okinawa. Then jumping on a 3 hour ferry ride to some incredible islands that reminded me of back home.

Once I was there it was all worth it and we settled into a small town with a population of 600 people. I had two days to warm up and scope out the course that we had to paddle on Saturday. Conditions were light winds but definitely a lot of small bumps on the water, which got me super excited. This made the 12′6 sprint the best board for the race ahead. I rested up and got ready for a gnarly 18 kilometer race.


I woke up on race day feeling ready and excited to go to battle with some of the best paddlers. It was a water start about knee deep and everyone lined up. Right before the horn blew I backed up onto the beach to get a nice running start instead of hopping onto the board with no speed. This gave me a nice glide straight into first place and I hammered to the first buoy turn. The top ten were all together for most of the up wind and flat water section, but as soon as we got into the small bumps going downwind the pack split up.


Lincoln and I pulled ahead of the group and were back and forth for the downwind section. We had to go out and around a small island in the distance where we both held the lead. We rounded the corner of island and then it went to complete flat water, where the pack was able to catch back up to us.


About half way into the race the top five men had a solid lead and I knew it was going to come down to the end. Everyone was working together to make sure the pack behind us didn’t catch up. I was already planning where to make my move and I was going to wait till the last buoy turn where we had about a 1k sprint to finish line. I pushed hard to get the inside line and everything was lining up. There was small bumps and I had my eyes glued on that finish line and left everything out on the water.


I was catching little bumps all the way to the beach where I ran up in first place. It was a long grind and definitely was not what I excel in, but I remembered to always have fun and to never give up. Stoked to take the win at the fourth stop on the paddle league and get myself back in the game.


Thank you to all my sponsors – Starboard, Salt Life, Black Project Fins, Maui Jim, Harmless Harvest, Paddle Monster and Dakine!

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