Connor chats about his return to form after battling illness all last year, as well as the state of the Stand Up World Series (which just had a great event in Brazil), but there’s also a question everyone wants to know the answer to: Why don’t guys like him and Kai Lenny race against paddlers such as Danny Ching more often?
It’s a well-known fact that the world’s best stand up paddlers only race each other once a year, at the Battle of the Paddle in California every September.
While the young guns, led by Connor and Kai Lenny, have featured heavily in the first year and a half of the Stand Up World Series, Danny Ching (and a few of the other top athletes) have been noticeably absent. Meanwhile the big standalone events such as Molokai, Carolina, the Gorge, etc are always missing a few of the biggest names as well. It’s only the BoP that draws everyone together.
So when will we get to see the best go head to head more often?
SUP the Mag: A lot of race fans would like to see you race against Danny Ching every weekend, or generally, see the sport’s best pitted against each other more often. Do you ever see a time where we’ll have a unified tour that will bring all the best competition into one place?
Connor Baxter: I really hope we can get a race tour together that brings the best to every event and then it will be a real race tour. I think that in time, as the sport grows, the events that become the most prestigious, such as the Battle of the Paddle and Molokai 2 Oahu – events that offer the most prize money, are well organized, are grouped together so traveling is easier with race boards – the athletes will come together. But for now it’s nice only racing Danny twice a year – hahaha, kidding!
Right now the SUP racing world is split. There’s three or four major organisations vying for “control” of the sport, with another three or four events all claiming to be the world championship decider.
The Stand Up World Series is doing more than anyone else to create a unified world title; they’ll be dishing out around $150,000 in prize money to racers this year, while their events are regularly broadcast on TV around the world. Something even the Battle hasn’t been able to do very well.
If the Series can build on the momentum it’s gained over the first three events of 2013, it will inevitably attract more and more of the best paddlers, giving race fans a bigger and better spectacle. There are already several big name paddlers confirmed to be competing on the SUP World Series for the first time in Europe this June, for example. Though right now it still has some ways to go, because right now nothing gets close to the Battle of the Paddle when it comes to the level of competition.
So while we’re waiting for some regular Connor vs. Danny vs. Jamie vs. Kai vs. Travis match-ups, you can check out the full interview over at SUPtheMag.com to hear more from the young Maui superstar.