Pacific Paddle Games
If someone had told me I’d be standing on top of the podium at Doheny beach after claiming the Pacific Paddle Games (PPG) overall title, I would have called them crazy. But here I was, holding one of the most prestigious trophies in SUP, and in doing so, claiming the first world title on the Paddle League World Tour.
Coming into PPG was a mixture of emotions. After such breakthrough year PPG felt like more of a celebration holiday, rather than a world title showdown. Never the less as I landed in California I could feel the hype and the pressure begin to build
If I had any hope of getting a decent overall result, I knew I had to do some damage in the Distance race first up Saturday morning. After historically having some pretty average results in this race (13thwas my best in 2017), I felt I had a point to prove, to myself and to everyone that I could go the distance. Luckily I was able to take some confidence from breaking some person best Time Trial speeds the weeks leading up, and from that, I knew I had the juice to go, blow for blow, racing with the best over the 10km course.
After taking my opportunities early, and hanging on for one of the most gut retching 45minutes of my life, I am honestly speechless that I managed to hold off that field to take the win in the pro Distance race.
Suddenly my chances for the overall win started to look a whole lot better…
Waking up Sunday morning, ahead of the technical semi’s and final is a feeling that will always stick with me. When I get nervous, I’ve learnt move into a very process orientated headspace, that it allows me to rise for big occasions.
After stepping through the semi-finals, I was relatively confident, a little sore, but I felt I had an extra gear I could tap into for the finals.
In what was one of the most exciting races I’ve ever been a part of, I came home in 4thplace. This 45minute race was one of my proudest moments. I executed everything I could to perfection (minus two falls), made moves when I needed, yet couldn’t get the ocean to give me a break. That’s the beauty of racing in the surf, some days you win, some you don’t.
With a 4th in the technical finals, I’d done enough to secure the Pacific Paddle Games title, in the end it was enough to take the Paddle League World Title, edging out Michael Booth.
Reflecting on this really makes me appreciate the journey, and winning one of the most famous SUP events to claim a maiden world title by a whisker is about as good as it gets. I wouldn’t want it to go down any other way.
For me the Pacific Paddle Games represented more than just a weekend, it was the culmination of the effort, countless months dedicated to finding ways to improve my paddling, and the sacrifices and effort from the team around me which produced the culmination of a season that defiantly did not go by the script.
But to be the last one standing at the end of year, with the World Title has made this journey worthwhile.