How are you feeling going into BOP?
I’m feeling pretty good going into BOP. It has been such a busy spring and summer of racing, the BOP kind of snuck up on me. After last weekends Surf Race to Victory in Huntington Beach my confidence is pretty high. Any chance to beat Jamie Mitchell in the surf would give anyone confidence. I’ve had some pretty good results, but that win was the best. Couldn’t think of a better time for that to happen. I will be riding the high of that win all the way through the BOP.
Who do you think, besides yourself, will be on the podium?
There are so many fast paddlers who are also good in the surf. I can think of about 30 guys who could be in the top 15. And about 20 guys who could be in the top 10. Racing in the surf anything can happen… if there is surf. But, in my mind the recent BOP champions are always a threat (Travis Grant, Danny Ching, and Jamie Mitchell). Connor Baxter has been paddling fast this season. Slater Trout is always a threat. Matt Becker, Kelly Margets, and of course Aaron Napoleon. And don’t count out the Tahitians. I’m not sure who will show up, but they have some incredibly fast paddlers. What I am really anxious to see is what new paddlers will emerge. There are some fast Aussies and Hawaiians that don’t do all of the races, but can suprise the field. It should be an exciting race. I wish I could watch!
What are you riding?
I’ll be riding the M&M 12’6″ production board. In the distance race I will be paddling a 14′ Custom M&M.
What conditions favor you?
For me, the bigger the surf the more fun and challenging the course will be. When it is flat you don’t see very many lead changes. Add in 2-4′ waves and things can change quickly. I have done a lot of training in the surf, so I feel pretty confident riding waves, going over and through breaking waves, and avoiding other paddlers. Bring on some surf and I am happy!
How do you manage buoy turns with 20 furiously paddling maniacs and surf?
The buoy turns are technical part of the course where I feel that I have an advantage over most people in the field through my surf lifesaving racing. For ten years I raced all over the world doing buoy turns while swimming, paddling a 10’6″ prone board, and a 18′ surf ski. Each discipline requires a different strategy when turning buoys. Stand up paddling is just one more discipline, but I feel I have gone around more buoys in crowds than ANYONE in the field.
Where are you headed next?
After BOP, RiverRocks festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Then to Puerto Rico, Cabo, and Fiji. There are races all over for all abilities. I feel so lucky to meet amazing people all over the world that paddle. Stand up paddling is emerging as a sport for anyone.