Fresh off his APP New York SUP Open win, Connor is already on the opposite coast getting settled for the Battle of the Bay taking place this weekend in San Francisco. I got a chance to catch up with him in between events to talk about his overall win in New York and his impressions of the 2018 APP World Tour. Tristan Boxford, the CEO of the Association of Paddle Professionals, has just delivered the second stop of his 2018 season now that London and New York are in the books. I talked to Connor about the iconic scenery of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty before and during the race as well as the less-than-flat water conditions they experienced on the 5 mile course out and around Ellis Island.
Connor excels in the bumps and particularly in the big downwind events. Born and raised on Maui he is especially fond of the race across the Pailolo Channel that separates his home island from Molokai. He is undefeated in that crossing now nine years running. He's also won M2O three times which led me to ask him about the the approach and preparation he takes toward each race and what makes M2M so much different than M2O.
Foiling continues to be a huge topic of conversation and Connor is one of the best foilers out there. I talked to him about the future of the foil classes in the Hawaii downwind races and whether we can expect to see him make the switch from an unlimited SUP to a foil anytime soon.
Speaking of guys who love to foil, I got to ask him about his early years growing up with our good friend Chuck Patterson in the house. Connor's parents, Keith and Karen, were early sponsors of Chuck and graciously hosted him every winter to chase the wind and huge waves on Maui. Chuck was clearly a solid role model for Connor during those years helping to mold him into the professional water athlete he is today.
Connor and his parents have a great relationship with Svein Rasmussen the founder of Starboard and as such Connor has been riding for the brand ever since he was four years old. Connor is now 24 and when he shares his age with me, I have to explain that 24 really isn't considered old. However, it does make him only one year younger than Starboard as a brand which certainly puts his time on the water as an athlete into perspective. I'm certain that Svein, Keith, and Karen couldn't have predicted the success and satisfaction that both parties would experience by pairing this young waterman prodigy with what would become one of the most successful board builders and brands in the industry. Its been a perfect symbiosis of athlete and brand from the beginning and those bonds couldn't be stronger today.
There are a few more races before the season ends and Connor seems focused on where he needs to be and what he needs to do to finish strong. He's a professional in and out of the water and a solid ambassador for the sport. I really enjoyed getting to spend some time chatting with him and hope you enjoy the results.
Thank you for listening. Aloha.