The 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile was an experience of a lifetime. As SUP has not made it into the Olympics yet, this is the closest thing we have to feeling like an Olympic athlete. The Pan Ams is the second largest sporting event that is sanctioned by the Olympics.
The event took place down south from the main games at an incredible location for surfing and racing called Punta de Lobos, Pichilemu. There were 4 different divisions to run – Shortboard, Longboard, SUP Surf and SUP Race so that meant a 10-day holding period.
The surf was perfect the whole time, so decided to run the race division at the end, but the swell ended up doubling in size. I got super excited and was ready for a Red Bull heavy water type of race, but they wanted to keep all the athletes safe while still making it exciting. So, they set up an M-shape course right off the beach inside the sandbar.
There were plenty of waves still rolling through and super technical racing through the white water. Once the course was set, I lined up and was ready to give it everything to defend my Gold Medal. My race strategy was simple, get into the lead and maintain first place for the three laps.
The horn blew and I sprinted off the beach to the water. I popped up to my feet and quickly started sprinting to the first turn. It was a tight battle between Itzel, David, and I to the first buoy turn and I was on the outside of them. I whipped my board around the turn and decided to take a different line than the other guys, which allowed me to jump into first around the second turn and that’s where I turned on the nitro boost and didn’t look back.
I finished the first lap with a nice lead but wanted to solidify my first place, so I kept pushing around each turn. By the second lap I knew I had it but I didn’t want to make any mistakes going into the final lap.
I almost got taken out by a wave that hit me from the side, but my Starboard Allstar was just a machine allowing me to stay standing. The last time around was a victory lap, and I was just soaking up the feelings and all the hard work and sacrifice to be here at the Pan American Games.
I took the win with a commanding lead to secure my second Gold Medal at the Pan Ams.
After the race we had an incredible award ceremony along with my best friend Zane who also took home Gold in SUP Surf. Then the typical rush back to the hotel to shove wet stuff in our bags and off to the airport for a long trip back to Maui.
Thanks to Team USA and USA Surfing for all the support.
I also want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Salt Life, Salt Life Sunglasses, Black Project, Haleakala Solar, Hi-Tech Sports.