« The 2018 Salt Life Columbus Cup was an epic event where the Southern hospitality was off the charts. It was a two-day event with a course race on Saturday and a one-mile time trial on Sunday.
Travelling from Hawaii, it was going to be a nightmare to ship out my 14-foot race board – so that’s when it’s time to bust out the new inflatable race board from Starboard! I was able to throw my paddle gear in the same bag as the board and got it checked in for free!!! It was a huge relief of stress not having to organize and deal with the board logistics.
Once it was race time I pumped the board up and then wrapped the rope around the nose cone to add extra stiffness throughout the whole board and then hit the water. Right off the start line, I was able to pull in front and maintain a solid board speed. Even though all the buoy turns the board was super responsive and quick to turn. I led the first two laps and was able to stay in the lead pack. I conserved as much energy as possible because I knew that it was going to be a sprint at the end. Going into the last lap I was already planning my strategy to take the lead and then play defence. Coming into the third to last buoy turn I made my move back into first place and made sure to cleanly execute my buoy turns.
I was going about 85% to make sure I had the last and final gear to take the win!! Second place was hot on my heals going into the last turn and I knew what I had to do. I whipped my board around and hopped back forward straight into full sprint mode. I kept my head down and my eyes on the prize until I crossed that finish line in first place. I was super stoked on how the inflatable performed and was excited to race it again for the one-mile time trial the next day.
I had a big recovery meal and hit the sack early to get ready for the next day of racing. The race started at 10 am and I was ready to hit the water. I paddled to the start line and got the engine warmed up for an all-out sprint. When the horn blew I hit the nitro boost and didn’t look back! I was battling with Garrett back and forth all the way down to the halfway point where I whipped the board around and B-lined it to the finish line. My heart was pumping, but I just kept the pressure on all the way to a first-place victory. It was an incredible weekend of racing and an even better test of what the new Starboard inflatable race boards can do!!
I want to thank my major sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Salt Life, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Harmless Harvest Coconut Water. And my product sponsors Dakine, Hammer Nutrition, GoPro, OnIt Pro and Hi-Tech Sports.
Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers and volunteers. »
– Connor Baxter