What a crazy trip it has been so far. To race in both New York and Scharbeutz in 24 hours was surreal. When I thought of the plan back in Greece earlier in the year I thought it was a pipe dream. After doing some numbers in Corfu I realised the Euro Tour was not secure. If Titouan won Scharbeutz, which he is very capable of doing, he would win the overall tour by 1.5 points. This was concerning for me as I really wanted to win it, so I started to work out how I could be in two places at once.
Molokai managed to beat up the body more than I expected. After the episode of cramping for over an hour during the race, recovery became ongoing for weeks. I was very tight and managed to sustain a few soft tissue tears in my oblique and my erector spinae. I’ve been able to continue to train but had to adjust my sessions to help try and not make the compromised areas worse. It’s the second soft tissue injury I’ve sustained this year and I guess I’m no longer as young as I think I am! But as we get older we get smarter as we have experienced more and we learn to manage everything differently. I’m pretty lucky to be able to work with Simon and the team at Stoke Physio to keep my body going with what I demand of it.
I was really happy with my preparation coming into M20. Even though it was a short 4 weeks in Perth, with zero wind every day, I felt like I had done enough to have a good race. It always hard bouncing around the world doing different events, distances and crafts but I enjoy the challenge and always do the best I can with the time I have. Normally I would like to do a 3-4month prep for a race like this but its just not possible with my hectic schedule. Coming home after Europe those long miles were tedious but after doing the Surf Ski Molokai with the Shaw and Partners Race Team in late May this year I knew it was a must. I conditioned the body the best I could, I paddled, ran, swam and got the kilometres right up to an exhausting level. It’s pretty lonely out there when doing 40km paddles so it was great to have fellow west Aussie Matt Bowbridge also preparing for his first crossing to join in on some of those long grinds. I was lucky to have Dede, Kristi, Denise and Gary driving me around.
This win will go down as one of the biggest of my career, not necessarily because of the event or the status but because of the distance I was able to put on the best paddlers in the world. Winning by 2minutes + was never my intention all I wanted to do was race with no mistakes and race confidently. And I did just that.
After Bilbao I was a bit disappointed to lose the way I did. I always hate making mistakes but when you do it when it counts it hurts more. But it also really fires you up for the next race and makes you not want that feeling again. I had a really good week of cross training and resting in Hossegor which allowed me to get over some of the travel we had sustained in the past month.
What a race! Sprint finish to the final moment. Bruno got this one but I’m sure we will have many more battles for the years to come.
After Molokai I was pretty exhausted from racing every weekend in different parts of the world. Time zones, cars, planes, hotels, Airbnb’s, admin etc etc… all of it takes a toll mentally and physically. So we decided to go home and reset for a few days before flying to Bilbao. There was some consideration about going back to San Sebastián to race, but I decided it would be wise to have a weekend off (otherwise I would have raced 9 weekends in a row).
Powering down runs and mixing it up for the first two hours of the M2O was pretty special. Sure I didn’t finish at the top end as I was some 10minutes back but it was one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had on the ocean. It was big runs with a hot field with the worlds best and as Dean Gardiner told me it was the “best conditions in 30 years”. For some time since I started SUP racing I have wanted to get back out in some ski races and try and balance them both. I competed in The Doctor and 20 Beaches at the end of last year and it re-ignited the desire to get the double blade out again and do more.