Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know by now that Connor Baxter won the Aragas Magallanes Paddle Challenge in Patagonia last week, getting one back on his rival Kai Lenny and taking an early lead in the 2013 Stand Up World Series rankings.
Well you’ve seen the results, checked out the awesome photos and watched the video highlights, but now here’s your chance to hear the full event recap in Connor’s own words. This… is his story…
2013 Aragas Magallanes Paddle Challenge Recap by Connor Baxter
The 2013 Patagonia Chile event was amazing. It started off with a lot of traveling and long car rides. On the way to Patagonia, I saw more sheep and llamas and alpacas than I did people – we were in the middle of nowhere. Once we finally got to this beautiful place the water was freezing and the air was cold – but it was perfect racing conditions.
We kicked the event off with the distance race which took place on Lake Grey. It was a two hour bus ride and then a 30 minute hike and then finally a 45 minute boat ride to the cabins where we stayed. The morning of the distance race we woke up and talked about the game plan for the day. The plan was first we would go to the glaciers which were 400 km long and we check that out which was very beautiful and amazing. Paddling next to these glaciers was so surreal and unbelievably crazy. I felt so lucky to be a part of the event and to be able to participate in this amazing opportunity.
After paddling for about two hours, we went back to the beach and got warm and got ready for the distance race. The distance race was about 13 miles in freezing cold conditions and flat flat water. We bolted to the start line where we lined up. For the start Tristan had to count down and quietly yell go otherwise it could have caused an avalanche in the glaciers which would’ve been very dangerous. When Tristan said go I put my head down and knew what I had to do.
We paddled across the lake to the other side where then we made a left-hand buoy turn and started heading down the lake to the finish line. During the whole race I had to keep an eye out for submerged glaciers and ice floating on the top which could have put a hole in my board or made me fall into the water. I kept the lead for over half of the race – but then a Boat wake made me stumble a little and Kai made a board length or more ahead of me which was too hard to catch up. So I kept my head down and kept paddling and came in second place. I was super stoked to start off the year like this and I was ready for the next day of the sprint race.
We had the same two hour bus ride back to the hotel and the event site for the next day. I had amazing dinner and then hit the sack. I woke up the next morning well rested and ready to kick some butt. The race wasn’t until later that afternoon so we had time to get ready and warmed up for the sprint races. I was in the third heat with three other people and the top two advanced. I was sore from the distance race plus I knew that it was going to be a battle so I decided to take it easy and get second-place which allowed me to advance.
There were only 10 people so there were not many heats but the 10 people were some of the fastest around the world. In my next heat semi, final number two, I knew it was going to be hard, against Zane and a kid from Brazil. Both Zane and Vinisius where really fast at sprinting. So when the horn blew I jumped up to my feet and paddled my butt off to the first buoy. I made the buoy turn first and kept first place until the end of the race. Now I was in the finals and I knew what I had to do. So I got some water, rested up and then made it to the water for the final round.
In the finals was Kai, Casper and Starboard teammate Zane. All four of us lined up on our knees and were ready to race. Tristan counted down and I jumped up, put my head down and used my Choke Stroke Technique and made it to the first buoy first and paddled my butt off to the next buoy. I made the next buoy turn with my head still down and paddled as hard as I could and then finally did the last two buoy turns in first place and came in across the finish line with no one in front of me. Kai was behind me then Casper then Zane. Since Kai got first and I got second in the distance race and the sprint race I got first and Kai got second, we had to do a tiebreaker.
The course for the tiebreaker was the same thing just a little bit shorter. So Kai and I lined up and got ready to go to war. When Tristan said go I got to my feet but stumbled and almost fell in, which gave Kai aboard length ahead of me. I was not going to let it be that easy, so I put my head down and paddled as hard as I could. I somehow caught up to him and got on the inside for the buoy turn. From there I kept paddling as hard as I could and made it to the last buoy turn in first place. On the last turn it was a left turn which was in Kai’s favor. He whipped it around and was right next to me on the final stretch to the finish line. I was not going to paddle that hard and have him pass me at the end of the race so I went to beast mode. Which got me across the finish line in first place and $9000 richer. I was super stoked to take home first place overall for the first event of the Standup World Series.
I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Maui Jim, Rainbow Sandals, Rista Fins, Dakine, GoPro, OnIt Pro, Waterman’s Sunscreen, Sunrite Maui, Hammer Nutrition, iDcard, EFX and Hi-Tech Sports.
Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers and volunteers. Fantastic Event!!
– Connor Baxter