The distance race – 5 miles along the coastline to San Clemente Pier, then back for a total of just about 10 miles, with a beach start and a beach finish. As we set out it was a pack of the fastest paddlers as you can imagine, pretty much all in a train vying for position. In the long distance race, my goal was to Paddle hard with the top of the pack, and stay with the top 5 for as long as I could.
The leader of the group was Travis Grant, even with an injured knee, he was still FAST. He had not raced the day before because of it so he was a little fresher than us, no sore muscles, but his knee was seriously injured we were all impressed he had it in him to race, never mind lead the pack.
But you could tell he wanted it this race bad. Danny Ching was also right there in front, with Beau O’Brian my Starboard team mate from Australia in that first group too. Noticeably missing from this lineup was Connor Baxter who paddled so hard in the Elite Race the day before that he re-injured himself popping a rib out!!!
So he had to pull out of this race. Just a board length away was about 7 more of us, including Jake Jensen, Casper Steinfath, Kai Lenny, Me and Kody Kerbox… Packed together trying to find the moment to pull ahead. I took my first opportunity at the half way buoy by the pier, made the turn fast, steer clear of the other competitors, and keep my speed enough to pass a few racers and keep out of the kelp with my FCS Kelp fin.