Quick question: Who is the fastest paddler on earth? That’s what everyone wondered as they gathered to watch the Lost Mills racing event held in the south of Bavaria, Germany. There were over 90 participants, but only 25 made the finals. This set the scene for a nail-biting finish as one racer after another tried to break the speed barrier and finish first.
A Premier SUP Race
Lost Mills is one of Europe’s premier SUP events. The race attracts the best athletes in the sport, all competing to be the best of the best. Paddleboarders from all over the world congregate for the event. There is an atmosphere of bonhomie and brotherhood, but come race time, the participants slip on their game mask.
On a side note, Lost Mills has now been officially recognized by the International Canoe Federation (ICF). What makes this special is that the event is the first race to be recognized by the federation. Congratulations to the Lost Mills team and everyone associated with it.
Get, Set, Paddle…
Back to the race. Boris Jinvresse, a new racer from France and the dark horse, set the benchmark, clocking 0:00:53.70. As racer after racer tried and failed, to beat the time, the crowd grew expectant of a surprise win, courtesy the Frenchman.
Then Jake Jensen stepped up. Here was someone who wasn’t going to let a relative unknown walk away with the bragging rights; at least not without a proper challenge.
The Australian paddled off the blocks in a quick tempo. He rowed hard and fast, stretching every muscle, every fiber of his arms and torso. The crowd began to cheer the Aussie on. He paddled harder and faster. With the finish line in sight, Jake huffed and puffed. This looked close, very close. As soon as he crossed the line, the timing showed 0:00:53.83. It was close, but not close enough.
Boris still had the fastest time.
Enter Connor Baxter
The racer from Hawaii was a former speed champion in 2013. He knew what it took to win. Connor Baxter was the last racer and the last man standing between Boris and his maiden win.
The start from Connor was quick. He used a low swinging rhythm to generate speed through the water. 50 meters went by, then a 100. The Hawaiian pushed and pushed. The racer and the board felt like a blur as they streaked through the open water. The crowd got into the act. They knew that this was again going to be a close affair. The finish line seemed nearer and nearer. With a loud grunt, Connor zipped past the line. Had he done enough?
As the ex-champion tried to regain his breath, confirmation came from the crowd: The Aussie had beaten the Frenchman by 58 hundredths of a second! His final time – 0:00:53.12.
Connor stood high on the podium with, perhaps, the tallest beer jug in the vicinity filled with the golden liquid. He deserved to drink the very last drop of it.
Congratulations Connor Baxter – The Fastest Paddler On Earth, 2016.