What an insane few weeks it’s been. I set out to have a successful month and what a month it was. Racing in NY, Scharbeutz, Quiberon & Japan in three short weeks has been such an amazing experience. Most recently I finished with a win in the overall title at the APP SUP Open in Osaka Japan. I’ve also placed 11th at the ICF ocean ski world championships in the past two weeks. And since I haven’t spoken to you about that I’ll start with that first.
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.
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.
An interview with Michael Booth by Robert B Butler:
Michael, congratulations on your amazing victory at the Carolina Cup in 2018. With high winds and choppy seas, the top five competitors in the men’s elite division finished within 35 seconds of each other. Eight of the top ten were from Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.
How do you feel when you look back at this incredible achievement?
“Winning the Carolina Cup was something I always wanted to do since I first picked up a SUP paddle in 2014. All of the guys I look up to like Danny Ching, Travis Grant, and Tituoan Puyo had won it before, and I wanted to be amongst that caliber of paddler. In addition to that, for me, it was a great victory as I bonked the year before and everyone was writing me off because of the downwind section at the end of the race.