Connor Baxter Makes it a Clean Sweep to Take the Overall Title at Huntington Beach and Win The 2014 WORLD TITLE!
RECAP BY CONNOR
The 2014 Huntington Grand Slam was a great event. The contest started off on Tuesday with the trials for the surfing portion. The next day the main event started and I was in heat 10. The waves were funky and super hard to judge where to take off. I was sitting in second place but then Brennan got a great wave which narrowly put me in third place, so I had to go the loser round and had one more chance to make it to round three. So the next day I got ready for my next surf heat with Robin Johnson and Fernando Stella. This was a very close heat between all of us but I edged out the other two guys to advance to round three. This next round I had a super tough heat and surfed my best. But just got edged out.
I had one day to rest before the sprint race on Saturday through the waves. I got an epic meal and a lot of sleep so I was feeling ready to go. I woke up the next day feeling good and got warmed up for the first heat. I went out there for my first heat using 50% of my energy, knowing that I had a bunch of racing to do. I came in comfortably in the lead and that moved me onto the next round. For my next heat I played the same tactic and came in first, which put me into the semi finals.
The semi’s were definitely more stacked and I had to use a lot more energy, especially with the bad start I had. I barely made it into the finals, and I knew that this is the one that I had to be flawless on. I got ready and hit the water with the perfect start heading out to the first turn. I was a little behind but snuck into a wave with Kai, Mo and Casper. I knew I had to do something that was going to give me a lead on Kai coming into the last two events, so I turned right to get in front of Kai and Casper.
This gave Mo and I a great lead coming into the second to last turn. I ran around the inside buoy and then got stuck on the inside. Casper and Mo somehow got out just a few board lengths ahead of me. I put my head down and sprinted as hard as possible to catch back up to them. They turned and then I turned shortly after and sprinted my butt of to catch the wave that I knew they would catch. I just got on it and the three of us headed into the beach on that same wave.
It was a crazy double up wave on the inside and Mo and I hung on and jumped off to sprint up the beach. With my longer legs I was able to outsprint him up the beach in first place. I was stoked to win – Because now I was one step closer to getting the overall title.
I rested up and got ready for the next day doing the long-distance. I got the course memorized and headed up to the start line. I was ready to give it my all and claim the title I have been working hard for. The horn blew and I sprinted to the beach and onto my board. There was a set breaking on the inside taking all of us out. I got back on my board and tried to make it over the next one but just fell on my stomach. I was far enough out that I snuck over the next one and was off to the first buoy.
I jumped into the train in 5th place and caught my breath. When we turned the buoy there was some small bumps and I love small bumps – so I passed everyone and took the lead. I turned the downwind buoy in first place and started making my way up to the beach run. Everyone pulled behind me going upwind and then Jake was the only one to pull ahead and lead for a bit. Lucky he did this, because both of us barely snuck onto a wave into the beach, which allowed us to take an early lead. Jake and I just stayed out in front holding off the other guys. Always just barely ahead. It finally came to the last lap and I turned on my afterburners. I stayed in the lead most of the way but Jake caught up going to the last buoy. After the buoy turn, we caught the same wave heading to the finish – and then I caught another little bump that he didn’t get on all the way to the beach – coming in 1st place. I was super stoked to have won the event and claim the World Title.