The 2022 Sayulita SUP Open was such a fun event and brought back some amazing memories like winning the Gold Medal at the 2015 ISA World Championships.
This fun little surf town hosted a distance race, technical race and surf event. To make life easier and not have to travel with a 14 foot race board, I decided to take the Starboard Inflatable Airline, which didn’t disappoint. This board was fast and agile compared to most inflatable boards.
I got to Sayulita on Thursday night and my first mission was some fresh Mexican tacos. The day before the event I wanted to test the waters and how the inflatable worked through the surf and choppy conditions. With no disappointment, the board was super good and I was feeling confident for the distance race.
The event kicked off at 9amunderneath the hot and dry Mexican sun. Waves were small, but there was a nice breeze that was side-onshore, which allowed the paddlers to have an upwind grind for 5 kilometers and then some little bumps back to the finish line. I positioned myself straight in front of the first buoy turn and entered into my flow state with some nice big breaths. The horn blew and I sprinted down the sand into the water, getting a nice clean start.
There were two guys that were able to hop onto my draft to the first turn, but I was able to drop one of them quickly after that turn. Heading up to the point where I had to turn around a rock, I kept a solid pace and took advantage of every little bump. Once I rounded the rock it was a 5 kilometer grind upwind and with the narrow nose of the All Star Airline, I was easily able to slice through the chop.
I was focused on myself and trying to hold a solid pace upwind but wasn’t able to drop the Tahitian paddler Henere Harrys. As we got close to the halfway point, I kept pushing the level and when the opportunity arrived I seized the moment and pulled away. After that moment I was just thinking about the downwind section on the way back to the finish line. I whipped my board around the buoy and started hunting every bump possible. With no surprise, the inflatable was able to glide and surf all the way back to the first win of the year for me.
But the day was just getting started. I had a little bit of time to refuel and prepare my SUP surfboard. I waxed my board up and shifted my race mode into surf mode, which for me was just for fun. I was able to win my first heat securing my spot in the next round, which was the next day.
I was definitely feeling the 10 kilometer distance race and surf heat, so I loaded up on a huge plate of pasta and chicken to refuel. After a good night of rest, Sunday kicked off with the surfing. The waves picked up and the action was on. I had another super fun session and won my heat, which advanced me into the quarter-finals. With only a little time in between the surf heat and the technical race I drank some electrolytes and had a quick snack.
The technical race was in and out of the surf, which got me super excited. I shook off the pre-race nerves and got lined up on the start line. I was ready for anything, so when the horn blew I ran off the sand and was able to jump into the lead right from the start. Being just a little ahead of the pack I was able to sneak over a few set waves and the other competitors got a little hung up in the surf. This gave me a nice lead right from the start and allowed me to settle into a comfortable pace as well as have a little fun in the surf. It was three laps of pure joy and excitement through the break, plus everyone cheering when I ran around the flag on the beach. The Starboard Inflatable Paddle Board blew me away on how well it handled in the surf. On my last lap and buoy turn, I whipped my board around into the set of the day, giving me a free ride into the beach.
I claimed my second win for the event, but it wasn’t over yet, because I had some work to do in the surf to claim the overall waterman award. The quarter finals was stacked with some of the best SUP surfers in Mexico that were local, so they had a ton of knowledge of the break. I went into the heat with the mindset of have fun and let loose. That’s exactly what I did and it got me through that heat into the semifinals. There was one other racer that made the semis so the waterman title was still on the line. I got a bit more serious for that heat and barely snuck myself into the Finals, which was my main goal for the SUP surfing.
Making the Finals with three of the best surfers that were all local definitely had me nervous, but I had already won the overall title, so I just went out and picked a few good waves and surfed my way into one of my best results in SUP surfing. I took third place in the finals and was super happy with my performance.
It was an epic way to wrap up an amazing event and then it was time for some well deserved rest and of course some more tacos! I was super stoked to use the Starboard Inflatable and win on it against other competitors that were using carbon boards.
I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Salt Life, Salt Life Sunglasses,Harmless Harvest Coconut Water, Haleakala Solar, Hi-Tech Sports.
Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers and volunteers.
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