January 01, 2018
CONNOR BAXTER – THE FASTEST MAN IN SUP
By Will Taylor
Connor Baxter is 15 years old when he gingerly holds his first $4,000 check. His arms are about as thick as a carbon-fiber paddle shaft, his legs not much more so. He weighs just north of 100 pounds with a patch of sun-bleached blond hair and a baby blue cap perched on top. A small, humble smile escapes his lips. Next to him is a lineup of standup paddling's early elite downwind paddlers: Dave Kalama, SUP godfather; Livio Menelau, Maui-based downwind savant; Mark Raaphorst, revolutionary downwind shaper; and early SUP pioneer Ekolu Kalama. None of them are smiling.And they have reason not to be. Baxter, literally half the size of some of them, just beat them all on a 26-mile paddle in the first-ever standup Maui 2 Molokai race, often won that very same race, Maui 2 Molokai, against a stacked field of the world's top downwind paddlers, for the eighth time in a row.
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