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.
It was my first time crossing the channel on a SUP. Obviously I wanted to have a crack at the title but I was very realistic with my mindset as there was a lot of unknowns and competitors that cant be underestimated. Even though you are still racing technically on a SUP, racing on an Unlimited can feel like a different sport, it’s longer, it has steering and with all the other events going on it can be hard to get practise on every craft. A lot of time and planning goes into this event with board design, logistics and having to rely on a lot of great people around the place. I’ve been working hard with Starboard to create a competitive unlimited for the past 18 months and I really believe we have one now! It been definitely a passion project of mine and basically we have created a board and steering system that is one of the best in the World. I’m lucky to have great people to work with like Raul Delgado, Ollie O’Reily, Svein Rasmussen and Gordon Stimson!
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.
Winning in the South of France at the Azur Paddle Games was a perfect start to the European season. The location is amazing, the paddlers were world class and it really set the scene for what would be an intense race at the front.
After Carolina I was pretty exhausted, it was a tough race and a long time on the water and that led to fatigue very quickly. Add a full day of travel to that and I arrived into Nice spaced out and barely functioning. Before the race we checked out Monaco and drove the race track, saw Cannes and pretended I was a movie star before visiting Freeride and getting my Starboard sprint for the event.
What an amazing weekend to start off the season. A second Carolina Cup victory, repeating from last year and another course record. When you are training for an event it’s how you plan it to go, but when you can execute it’s extremely fulfilling!I prepped for this event from March 1st which was a really late start for me.
I tore an intercostal muscle in early February in Thailand at a photoshoot with Starboard for their new range. I didn’t warm up properly and hadn’t done any training since Paris so I pushed a little too hard. I was in denial at first that I’d done anything wrong but it left me in pain for 4-5 weeks with sleeping and coughing being two of my favourite things each day.