The latest episode of Trav’s Trippin, in which our intrepid explorer Travis Grant and his trusty sidekick Rico Leroy head to Germany for the big Lost Mills race…
I’ve been in in Germany the past few days for the big Lost Mills event, which is the second stop on the informal “European SUP Racing Tour” (presented by NSP!) that a lot of us international guys are over here for. Last week a bunch of us were in St. Maxime for the SUP Race Cup and then we all travelled north to Brombachsee, Germany.
The Lost Mills featured a heap of races, starting with the “Fastest Paddler On Earth” 200 metre time trial race. It was a pretty unique event, basically a 200 metre drag race against the clock with full on electronic timing systems and all.
There was no prize money on this race but there were still some insane prizes up for grabs. There was a $7,000 Breitling on the 14′ class and a $1,000 GPS watch on the inflatable class. Winner takes all. And I really wanted one of them… maybe both!
Paddling in the fresh water felt pretty strange, almost like you’re sinking. I finally get that whole thing about it being easier to float in salt water. For the qualifying heats we were going man-on-man, with the top 20 times going through to the final. After that it was one guy on the course at a time. Pretty neat setup, with race officials (aka little kids that got roped into doing it) laying down on a giant inflatable SUP board and holding onto your board until the horn goes, full Olympic style!
So yeah the race was fun but really hard. Only 200 metres but so many guys here that can print like crazy.
I entered both the 12’6 inflatable and 14′ hard board classes, thought I could maybe get one watch for each wrist haha.
Had a good paddle on the inflatable and got the fastest time, so I walked away with a new Suunto GPS watch. Stoked! I actually almost bought one of these last month, so good timing hey!
After that it was onto the 14′ class, which all pro guys were concentrating on. I knew Connor would be the man to beat and sure enough he set the fastest time in the morning qualifying session. I was only four seconds behind though (59 seconds vs. Connor’s 55) so I figured I had a chance.
I gave it everything in the final run only to be told the timing machine had stuffed up just for me, so I had to do it again!! Wasn’t super pumped about that, and as you can imagine having to back up again a few minutes later was an impossible task. I was already flogged and limped home on a time that was way off the pace. But Connor smashed it with a 53 second final and thoroughly deserved his new bling. Probably be on ebay tomorrow haha.
This whole Lost Mills event is probably the best setup SUP race I’ve eve seen. Good sponsors, great event, the weather wasn’t very kind but apart from that it was really good.
So that was day one. On day two (thursday) it was time for the Jamie Mitchell Survivor Race on 12’6 inflatables. There was five heats with the bottom guys getting dropped each time. The fact there’s only two minutes rest between rounds, plus a new tactic that Jamie introduced (bonus head starts for the top three guys from the previous round) meant the pace was full on.
It was definitely a race of survival!
I didn’t have an inflatable with me so I had to scrounge around and borrow something last minute. Ended up grabbing a board that was really fast in a straight line but super hard to turn. I felt as fast as the other guys on the straights but kept losing time on all the turns. Didn’t really matter though as Connor killed it again.
He won every single round, including the final. Freak.
I ended up getting second in the final which I was pretty happy with, all things considered… Figured I could do a repeat of France; second to Connor in the short race then maybe snatch the long distance race the next day.
Which brings us to today, day three and the 18km long distance race. This was the main event of the Lost Mills and the one we all wanted to win, but were also all quietly hoping would somehow be cancelled; we knew it was going to be a looong, hard slog out there.
So yeah I knew it was going to be tough and I also knew I’d need a good start, coz the whole draft train would start forming right off the bat and if you weren’t near the front, you were going to struggle the whole race. But things didn’t go to plan and I had a shocker of a start. Got squeezed into the pack and couldn’t catch the lead guys.
Connor and Jamie were going hard on the left side of the start line, Eric Terrien was paddling like a machine off the line to the right, while most of the other elite guys were bunched up in the middle. It was a mad sprint for the first 500 metres with heaps of jockeying for position, clashing of paddles, bumping of boards and a few guys taking a dip in the chilly Bavarian waters.
And that’s pretty much what happened to me for the first 500 metres or so, just getting caught up in the bunch. I eventually went wide and tried to muscle my way back up to the front but could only gain a few spots. Eventually settled into the draft train in around 13th spot, which fortunately kept me in the lead pack when the long ass draft train inevitably started splintering, so I was safe for a while…
But I knew I’d need to be a lot higher than 13th if I wanted to stay with the leaders, so I slowly started picking my way through the pack and by the latter stages of the race was up around equal second with Connor.
Unfortunately by this stage Eric Terrien had already bolted. The Frenchman went for it right from the start, broke the field, and somehow just kept on extending his lead the whole way. The race was over by the 10km mark. I dunno how he did it…
Eric finished something like two and a half minutes clear at the finish… incredible performance. Very gutsy paddle to try and go it alone but it paid off, so my hat goes off to you Eric!
So at the finish it was a sprint to the line for second place, with about eight of us still bunched up together a few hundred metres out. I was up the front of the pack with Connor and we made a move a couple of hundred metres out. For the fourth time in eight days it would be a sprint to the line between me and the young kid. And for the third time out of those four he got me…
I crossed the line in third, which I was extremely happy with considering flat water isn’t really my thing, that I had a shocker of a start and that there’s so many good paddlers at this event!
But yeah, Eric killed it. Brilliant performance.
The whole Lost Mills event was great – great setup, great food, great paddlers. If you like flat water racing then it’s one of the best events in the world for sure.
So now it’s Saturday arvo, we’ve just finished the awards and we’re jumping in the car and heading straight back to the snow again!
It’s officially summer but it’s still snowing in the mountains so we’re gonna go do some more snowboarding.
We’re heading to the Pyrenees this time… That’s also where the big charity adventure race that Rico and I are doing starts on Thursday. It’s going to be crazy, skiing, running, paddling… from the Pyrenees down to Biarritz. It’s a big charity race with 10x two-man teams. Heaps of well known french sports people are doing it apparently, plus me… haha. So yeah it should be a lot of fun. Keep you posted with how it goes!!
Trav’s Trippin’ Episode #1: Welcome To Trav’s Trippin’
Trav’s Trippin’ Episode #2: Downwind Time In Biarritz
Trav’s Trippin’ Episode #3: I Won The SUP Race Cup… Pumped!
Trav’s Trippin’ Episode #4: Snowboarding In Summer!