12/05/2018 | Connor Takes Out 2018 Kerama Blue Cup In Japan!

The 2018 Kerama Blue Cup was an event to remember, with its stunning blue water and amazing island lifestyle. It was definitely a mission to get here for me coming from Hawaii with 20 hours of travelling to Okinawa. Then jumping on a 3 hour ferry ride to some incredible islands that reminded me of back home.

Once I was there it was all worth it and we settled into a small town with a population of 600 people. I had two days to warm up and scope out the course that we had to paddle on Saturday. Conditions were light winds but definitely a lot of small bumps on the water, which got me super excited. This made the 12’6 sprint the best board for the race ahead. I rested up and got ready for a gnarly 18 kilometre race.

I woke up on race day feeling ready and excited to go to battle with some of the best paddlers. It was a water start about knee deep and everyone lined up. Right before the horn blew I backed up onto the beach to get a nice running start instead of hopping onto the board with no speed. This gave me a nice glide straight into first place and I hammered to the first buoy turn. The top ten were all together for most of the upwind and flat water section, but as soon as we got into the small bumps going downwind the pack split up.

Lincoln and I pulled ahead of the group and were back and forth for the downwind section. We had to go out and around a small island in the distance where we both held the lead. We rounded the corner of the island and then it went to complete flat water, where the pack was able to catch back up to us.

About halfway into the race the top five men had a solid lead and I knew it was going to come down to the end. Everyone was working together to make sure the pack behind us didn’t catch up. I was already planning where to make my move and I was going to wait till the last buoy turn where we had about a 1k sprint to finish line. I pushed hard to get the inside line and everything was lining up. There were small bumps and I had my eyes glued to that finish line and left everything out on the water. I was catching little bumps all the way to the beach where I ran up in first place. It was a long grind and definitely was not what I excel in, but I remembered to always have fun and to never give up. Stoked to take the win at the fourth stop on the paddle league and get me back in the game.


Connor Takes Out 2018 Kerama Blue Cup In Japan-buoy-turn-PC-Georgia-Schofield-Starboard

“The first buoy turn is always exciting ” as Connor leads the pack early on into the race | Picture Credit: Georgia Schofield


Connor Takes Out 2018 Kerama Blue Cup In Japan-lead-pack-PC-Georgia-Schofield-Starboard

“Heading out to the bumps with Lincoln” ~ The Aussie didn’t make it easy for Connor | Picture Credit Georgia Schofield


Connor Takes Out 2018 Kerama Blue Cup In Japan-lead-pack-2-PC-Georgia-Schofield-Starboard-PC-Georgia-Schofield-Starboard

“Chasing all the bumps down” ~ you can’t miss a bump on the 12’6 x 23 Sprint | Picture Credit: Georgia Schofield


Connor Takes Out 2018 Kerama Blue Cup In Japan-finish-line-sprint

“Homestretch to that finish line” ~ Connor really put the gas on in the final 500m to take the win | Picture Credit: Georgia Schofield


Connor Takes Out 2018 Kerama Blue Cup In Japan-mens-podium-PC-Georgia-Schofield-Starboard

Top five Men (left to right) Daniel Hasulyo (Hungary), Noic Garioud (France), Connor Baxter (Hawaii) Lincoln Dews (Australia) and Bruno Hasulyo (Hungary) | Picture Credit: Georgia Schofield