Despite early morning winds that buffeted the event site on arrival today at Huntington Beach, by the time the sun
Kai Lenny (Naish) from Maui went into the Final day of competition behind: a disappointing 4th place finish in the long distance created even more of a challenge for him to defend his World Title, as Connor Baxter (Starboard), had the points advantage from the events leading into the Finals, as well as a 3rd place in the long distance race on Day 1.
However, with rising surf and dead winds, it was all to play for, as the day would provide some of the most spectacular and high octane racing action ever witnessed. Both Kai and Connor made it through to the Finals, with Kai needing to win and Connor to take 6th or worse in the Final heat of the day in order for Kai to take the title: given Connor Baxter’s incredible form all year, this seemed like a daunting task to say the least.
However, the two lap course provided the ultimate equalizer, as the biggest set of the day came through on the final leg, as the heat leader Kai Lenny dropped into a solid 6ft, more or less unmakeable wave….only to go down right under the lip…..
Meanwhile, Connor Baxter stumbled on the first leg and was lying in 7th place, as this set came through, as it tore through the race course and took out the first 5 athletes. After taking sets on the head and scrambling to find his paddle and get back up, Kai Lenny maintained his composure and then embarked on a dramatic race to the finish line aloingside young French phenom, Arthur Arutkin (Fanatic).
It was to be Kai’s day, as the young Champion managed to secure the win in the sprints, second overall for the event and the overall World Title for 2013 – an incredible performance from this young Champion from Maui who just turned 21 this week.
CONNOR BAXTER FINISHES AN INCREDIBLE YEAR IN 2ND PLACE OVERALL
There is no doubt that throughout the year in 2013, Connor Baxter (Starboard) was the man to beat: with a record string of victories across events in everywhere from South America and Europe, to right here in the US, Connor demonstrated his exceptional skill and competitive prowess at every leg of the Stand Up World Series this year.
Coming into the final event and after an exhausting season of racing, Connor put every last shred of energy into this final event, but a few stumbles early on in the Final were enough to seal his fate for 2013, having to settle for runner up in the overall rankings for the year.
It was nonetheless an impressive year for the young Champion from Maui and there is no doubt that the Connor Baxter / Kai Lenny match up is one of legends, and the story has only just begun. We look forward to seeing Connor Baxter back and hungrier than ever in 2014, as we lead up to the next level of global performance Stand Up Paddling.
Watch the epic highlights and view galleries and full results at: WWW.WATERMANLEAGUE.COM