As I arrived in Dusseldorf Germany for my 4th attendance at BOOT, the World’s Largest Boat Show, I was anticipating a busy week! Each year all the industries involved in ocean transportation, recreation and sport meet here to give the public a chance to learn about the latest and greatest ocean innovations. Once again, my role here was to represent Starboard and Starboard Germany at their booth and to host a number of engagements and kids’ clinics. This huge event also includes a number of competitions. The competitions include the SUP Wave Masters held at the indoor wave pool by CityWave, along with the Short Track Masters SUP Race at the indoor pool and wake park. Since I am the 2x overall champion of this event I was excited to push the limits on my Starboard 7’0 SUP in the wave pool again and represent Starboard with the many social opportunities.
This time of the year in Dusseldorf it’s quite cold and dark. Well, at least it seemed that way for me. But inside the halls, of which there are 16, the environment resembles the warm and dry climate of many tropical places. This makes for another awesome reason for people from all over Europe to flock to this event- not to mention the special appearances from many of the world’s top ocean experts and athletes. From the likes of the world’s most famous windsurfing professionals, Robby Naish and Bjorn Dunkerbeck, to the world’s top explorers and ocean conservationists, such as Emily Penn and the Cousteau family, this is the place to be if you are an ocean enthusiast!
My first day at the show was on Friday, the day before the start of our competitions, and the Boot team along with Starboard had a full schedule of events and engagements assigned for me. On this day I taught 4 groups Stand Up Paddling totaling around 100 people. I also hosted 4 different speaking engagements on topics around my life as a professional waterman, ocean advocate and published author. Every year we feel so much aloha and support from this community that it charges me with energy and it’s such a pleasure to be able to share aloha back to them through these social opportunities! Even our training sessions at this event are unique, as they usually go on until 11 pm during the after-hours of the show. This is my kind of party!
With the weekend starting we got to kick off competition at the Citywave! At the training session the night before we got to assess our competitors skill on the wave pool. The level of skill among all the athletes this year is much higher than previous years. My goal from the get go was to utilize my experience with aerial maneuvers such as some back side pop shove-its, and 360 reverses while controlling my speed and power to get the crowd on the sidelines wet with each turn! I was grateful to be able to make first in my first heat and advance straight into the quarter finals- and even though we sent some families home soaking wet – it was pretty satisfying to have the spectators so close to our performance.
The last and final day of this 2 week-long event was Sunday and there was a lot to get done. We still had three more rounds of the Citywave SUP Masters and compete in the new and improved SUP Short Track. Starting off the day for us was the Race in the Pool. This year the Boot team and Carsten Cumin came up with a unique format for the race that involved two three-person teams starting on opposite ends of the pool with the goal to overtake the competitors by either out paddling them in the 10 minute round, or by playing defense by blocking the other competitors enough that one of our teammates passes them and knocks them out of the race without getting passed yourself. It was like a thrasher series of some sort in the sense it was very technical and so much about board control and position awareness. After 3 rounds The Starboard team Including Fiona Wylde, Carsten Kurmis and myself were doing awesome and utilizing this new format as much as possible to demonstrate how exciting a race like this could be.
In the final it came down to Team Starboard and Team Fanatic with Christian K Anderson, Valentine and Paulina. We switched our tactic on this final round in the sense that now I was leading our team and sprinting and not blocking on the defensive side as in previous heats, allowing Fiona Wylde to sprint and pass the competitors Carsten and I blocked. It was a good plan and we ended up picking off Valentine and Paulina which left only Christian and I battling each other. The 10-minute round finished before one of us could pass the other. So, it ended with a sudden death 1-lap sprint off!
I got a bit confused with this part of the event as we hadn’t gone past the 10 minute rounds before. So when the clock ran out of time I stopped paddling for a few monuments, when I should have been sprinting for the immediate start of the sprint. When I realized it, I went straight into the sprint a bit too late but still gave Christian a run for the money. In the end I only finished a few meters behind that 1st place position for our time. We finished the short Track Masters in 2nd place and pretty much went straight into the Wave Pool competitions shortly after this race wrapped up.
Starting in the quarter finals there were 3 rounds left until the final. I was able to continue my streak in first while having a blast throwing powerful turns getting the sidelines and crowd in them wet. I was preparing a few maneuvers that I wanted to save for the final. I worked my way up scoring in the excellent range all the way into the final where I was up against Carsten Kurmis, Christian K Anderson and Valentine. In competition it always feels good to build from start to finish while finding your flow and confidence. This is what I was feeling in the final and by my 2nd wave ride I was already confident that I could win with these two scores.
Starting off like that had the pressure off, and I was feeling loose. It was all fun and games from there and I was able to increase my score total to the highest I had the entire event. Christian K Andersen was a standout performer and in my opinion was the most improved. He started this event with no experience on this river wave style of a wave pool, and it was amazing how much he progressed, let alone be able to make it to the final and on the way taking out some local river wave surfers! In the end Carsten Kurmis with Team STB placed 4th, Valentine placed 3rd, Young Christian K Andersen 2nd and myself in 1st and 3x champion.
Coming home with the gold always feels good, but what’s more rewarding is know that we made some special connections and truly created a positive ripple effect in that community. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been able to inspire many of the guests at this Event with a number of kids’ clinics and speaking engagements. Feeling support so far away from home is awesome, and I take great pride in being able to share my unique experiences as an ocean expert and Hawaiian waterman. The work I do is driven by the health of our oceans, and so being able to have a platform such as the Boot Dusseldorf show, the worlds largest boat show, to share importance of living a purposeful, deep blue life all the way to Germany makes me so grateful to attend this event each year. Big mahalo to Flo, Louise, Carsten and the Starboard Germany team for always hosting us so well and always making us feel at home!