The 2022 ICF Stand Up Paddle World Championships hosted by Gdynia, a northern port city in Poland, was a fantastic event that absolutely blew everyone away. Multiple SUP World Racing Champion Connor Baxter returned to stamp his name as the worlds best by taking home 2 gold medals, 1 in the exciting Technical Course race and one in the fast-paced 200m Sprint.
2022 ICF SUP World Champs – 200m Sprint Race Recap
The number of paddlers that came from around the world was just incredible. I was really excited about this event, as I had lost my Sprint Title the year before, so I was fired up to try and retake my title back in the 200-meter Sprint.
When I arrived to Poland, I received my new 2023 Allstar board, which made me really excited to race and it is always fun to unwrap new equipment.
The days leading up to the competition were all about getting acclimated and adjusted to the time difference and climate here in Poland. As well as getting as comfortable as possible on my new board, because this is the first time I had ever tried it.
First up on the menu was the Sprint Competition, which definitely got the nerves flowing. The day of the race I showed up around 10:00 AM and got my equipment all prepared for some nonstop action. As always the first few rounds are not super intense, but I made sure to have fast starts then maintain the lead with as little effort as possible.
The first heat I was able to pass through going about 75% – just getting a taste of what was to come. The next heat I had to go a little bit harder, but the new Allstar was flying, so I was able to pass through into the Semi-Finals. The Semi-Finals were definitely stacked, but I knew I had to beat all these guys at some point, so I put the hammer down and didn’t let off until the end, securing my place in the Finals.
After being at the beach almost all day, the Mens Finals were right around the corner, being the last Sprint race of the day. I was definitely nervous, but at the same time super excited. So, when I got on the start line I stared down the lane with one thing on my mind – Gold Medal!!! When they shouted GO, I blasted down my lane going at max speed. About 3/4 of the way down I switched sides giving me a fresh set of arms (more or less) and was able to push all the way across the finish line in First Place at 44.34 seconds. From start to finish I had the lead and put a two-second gap on Second Place. The fire was burning in my belly and I had something to prove. So much hard work and sacrifice goes into a World Championship, so winning was just the absolute best feeling.
After catching my breath and soaking up the win I got to hear the American Anthem when they called me up to the stage. After a big celebration meal, I was able to rest easy as the distance race was the next day, which I was not entered in. The conditions for the distance race were terrible. It was pouring rain and very windy making it absolutely crazy rough conditions. As I took a day off recovering, it was fun to watch the live feed and cheer on all my teammates! Then seeing Michael and Espe take the wins was absolutely insane.
2022 ICF SUP World Champs – Technical Beach Race Recap
After a great day of recovery and cheering, I was ready for more action in the technical racing. There were two rounds of heats on Saturday to see would make the Semi-Finals. I was seated in the Quarter-Finals, so I only had one heat. My heat was packed with top paddlers, but the top 4 made it through. My plan was to conserve energy, but be in the front of the pack for all the turns. After holding everyone off for 7 turns, I was able to run up the beach and secure my spot in the Finals.
The Final was absolutely stacked with some of the best paddlers from around the world. I got lined up and choose the best line possible to get the hole shot. I got low as the race starter said to be prepared. Ready – GO and I was off with some quick hops on the water, then up to my feet. I was able to get into second place before the turn but luckily the next leg was downwind, which allowed me to catch some bumps. I picked a different line than Claudio [Nika] and got the next turn before anyone and knew I had to chance to win. At the turn buoy, I heard some commotion behind me and took that as a sign to paddle hard to the third turn. I was able to maintain the lead for the next few turns and conserve a bit of energy because I knew it was going to be an all-out sprint to the beach.
As I turned the last buoy I went a bit wider thinking this would give me a better line to the beach with the side wind, but unfortunately, it just allowed Titouan to catch up and even pull a bit ahead. I wasn’t giving up that easy, so I hunted down a bump and pulled back in front. The next thing I knew the water got shallow and I knew I had to jump off first to have the best shot at winning. I timed it perfectly and was able to keep my feet high while running in the water and blasted up the beach in first place.
200m Sprints Gallery
Technical Beach Race Gallery
Photo Credits: ICF / Planet SUP