The 2019 Salt Life Columbus Cup

The 2019 Salt Life Columbus Cup

It was another incredible year at the 2019 Salt Life Columbus Cup in Columbus, Georgia. It was a one day race, but jam packed with action, because of the unique course. The 5 mile course took us through a wide variety of conditions that really tested our skills. All the racers had to be on inflatable boards and my weapon of choice for this race was definitely what made the difference. The new and improved Starboard 14’ Airline was a rocket ship, with the new side rails for stability and the stringer for stiffness – it made my job easier. 

The race started at 4 PM with a standing start and I was just focused on getting that holeshot. It was a four lap course that included up river against the current, to a short run to the top of the rapids, straight back into paddling mode down two sets of rapids. After the second rapid we had to quickly get out of the fast moving water to make a left hand buoy turn and back to the starting area where there was a W shape technical section.
I got lined up waiting for the horn to blow. When it did my head went down and I put the pedal to the metal. I made sure I hit the run in first to make sure I could stay in the top pack of elite paddlers. On the way up river I hugged the side utilizing the eddies and I was able to set the pace in first place. I hit the land for the run in first and that’s where I made my move. Hitting the rapids first sent me into a 20 yard lead and then I didn’t look back! Each lap keeping the pressure on as if they were hot on my heals, I was able to increase my lead each lap. The first three attempts at the rapid didn’t go perfectly as planned, but the last lap is where I was able to stick both of the rapids for a victory lap. Mo Freitas was in second place waiting for me to make a mistake, so he could catch up to take the lead, but I was here to defend my title! 

After paddling about 5 miles in some hot, humid and challenging conditions, I was able to take the win and defend my title. It was another incredible race with some amazing Southern hospitality and the win was the cherry on top! Big shout out to Starboard for making the best equipment and huge thanks to Salt Life for putting on an amazing show.

I would like to dedicate this race victory to Sunny Garcia, who is fighting for his life right now in the ICU. He has taught me to always fight till the end no matter what, and that’s what I did.

I want to thank my major sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Salt Life, Salt Life Sunglasses, Harmless Harvest Coconut Water. And my product sponsors Dakine, GoPro, OnIt Pro and Hi-Tech Sports.

Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers and all the volunteers.

   Connor Baxter

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