How fast can you paddle 200 metres? Not as fast as Connor Baxter…*
Although the main event at the Lost Mills was the 18km distance race on Saturday, the sideshow event, the 200m time trial on Friday afternoon, threw up its fair share of action as well, including a heartbreaking fall and a return to the top for the 2013 champion.
Officially known as the “Fastest Paddler On Earth,” the exhibition race has become a staple of the Lost Mills since being added to the second annual event back in 2013. Paddlers sprint down a straight line, 200 metre course that’s clocked by a laser timing system, with anything under a minute being a very solid time.
So with the record level of elite competition descending upon the fourth leg of the 2016 EuroTour, including a lot of fresh faced dark horses, the Fastest Paddler was always going to be an interesting showdown.
But for all the talent being thrown at him, nobody could match Connor, with his time of 53.12 seconds enough to edge out the impressive runner-up Boris Jinvresse, along with Jake Jensen (3rd fastest), Noa Hopper (4th) and the 21 other finalists (see the full 2016 Fastest Paddler On Earth results).
Interestingly, Connor actually set a faster time (51.6 seconds) in the qualifying round, where paddlers were sent down the 200m course two at a time, as opposed to the solo runs of the final. Connor was drawn against his Starboard team mate and ‘Fastest Paddler’ defending champion Trevor Tunnington, and not surprisingly they set the two fastest times heading into the final.
Connor said he went faster in the qualifier mainly because he had Trevor pushing him all the way, whereas in the final he was only racing the clock.
Unfortunately, Trevor’s title defense ended in heartbreak when he fell off at around the 100m mark of his solo run. After he climbed back on and completed the run, Trev’s official time was 2 minutes 10 seconds, which gives the youngster the unique distinction of holding both a Fastest Paddler On Earth title and a Slowest.
Here’s a great video from the qualifier when Connor and Trev went head-to-head and qualified top two for the final.
For the board lovers: Both Connor and Trev were debuting the new 2017 Starboard Sprint during the Lost Mills, an upgrade on the current model that I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot more about later in the year…
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* Unless your name is Danny Ching, who still holds the record for his 47.60 second performance during the 2014 event (which, interestingly, was also set during the qualifying round, not the final); As a comparison, Connor recorded the second fastest run that year of 50.26.
(Connor hasn’t gotten slower in the past two years – times vary every year depending mainly on the wind, and 2014 had perfect conditions.)
Though if you’re comparing these all-star times with your own training runs, keep in mind the “Fastest Paddler” event uses a rolling start — paddlers are able to take 2 or 3 strokes before they pass through the timing gate that officially starts the clock, which would make their times roughly a second faster over the 200 metres compared with a standing start.