Carolina Cup 2022 – The Starboard Boys Recap!

Last weekend, Michael Booth won his 3rd Carolina Cup Graveyard Race crown while Starboard Teammates Connor Baxter won the Technical Sprints on Day 2  and new Starboard rider Noic Garioud managed to recover from a heartbreaking 11th place due to end-of-race cramps in the long distance with a silver medal. Daniel Hasulyo was hoping for a much better result and was a little unlucky with his choice of board and is already looking forward to the next battle! The Starboard Male Dream Team was out at the Carolina Cup. Here are their individual stories!

Boothy launches his international SUP Race season with a 3rd Carolina Cup title!

Michael Booth: “Great day for me and a hard fought battle. Just the way I like it. I started to plan, chasing the small bumps on offer and getting to the inlet in the top pack. I had to work with and against the pack to put myself in the best position to win for that final 3kms in the ocean. I had a few minor cramps in my hands and pectoral around the 90min mark that had me worried it was all over. The pack split going out of Masonboro inlet and I was quickly in 4th. I changed my technique to counter the cramps and just dug deep as these opportunities to win don’t come around too often. I was feeling good to the salmon bouy but as I turned my forearms completely went and I was just surviving to the beach. I just held it together as I really wanted it and was happy to come away with the win. It’s been 7 months since my last SUP event so to win and start off 2022 with a bang I am very happy. Big thanks to Starboard SUP for all their support. Couldn’t do it without them.”

Here is Boothy’s  post-race full video recap!

Connor takes 1st Place Overall at the 2022 Carolina Cup

Connor Baxter: “The 2022 Carolina Cup was another super fun and successful event. It was definitely a quick turnaround, as it was the last big event I competed in back in November of last year. The infamous graveyard course was all set with a little course change, but it still brought the same hurt.

As always, the days leading up to the race are always fun with clinics, catching up with old friends and meeting new people. Friday night is the same routine I have been doing for years and that’s cooking up some wild caught salmon with a massive bowl of pasta and then some stretching before jumping in bed. That night is always hard to get in a deep sleep with your mind racing about tactics, strategy and conditions. Luckily I always get enough sleep to perform my absolute best and for the graveyard race you have to be in top shape.

The morning of the race I loaded up on a bowl of carbs and fat – which was rice, coconut oil and high quality salt. After fueling up two hours before the race, I started to get into the right mindset and prepare my board with the leash and PFD. Coming into this race my goal was top five in the Distance and go for the win in the Sprints. All the elite paddlers had their boards in hand and ready to rock for the start. The horn blew and everyone was off the beach like lightning, heading for the first turn to head downwind and into the inlet.

The first section was hard, but if you were able to push you could get some fun rides. Knowing that it was going to be a long race, I settled into a comfortable pace, but unfortunately lost the top five pack. But I kept my head down with the gas on. Once I got into the sound side, Itzel and Eri caught up to me, which was perfect timing for the upwind grind. Instead of pushing by myself, we had a nice pace with the three of us and kept our eyes on the top five pack.

It took the whole backstretch of flatwater grinding to get closer to them, but still just out of reach as we passed the blockade runner on the sound side. The race wasn’t over yet with another 20 to 30 minutes of hard paddling back through the inlet and into the ocean. Sitting in 8th place, I needed to pass 3 people in the ocean section in order to hit that top 5 bubble.

As we rounded the jetty, to start heading down to the finish, I was able to make one pass as Eri fell in. Then Itzel and I were starting to pick up the pace a bit battling for 6th place. I was hunting every little bump possible trying to pull away from Itzel and at the same time Noic had a major cramp, who was ahead of us, which was blood in the water for Itzel and me. So we pushed even harder. Now I was battling for 5th and this got me super excited and a surge of energy.

I was able to pull away from Itzel just enough to have a comfortable lead and not a death sprint up the beach. I was super stoked with my performance and how my body was feeling through the whole race. The graveyard definitely makes you feel it and will remind you “who is boss”.

Straight away I refueled and started to recover from a solid grind. After stretching, rolling out and some other fun recovery tools, I was feeling rested and ready for what I have been preparing for.

Sunday was the Sprint Races and we hadn’t had much waves, but some solid wind, which put some texture and swell on the ocean.

I had to make it through two heats before lining up for the finals, so the game plan was to use those heats as a warm-up and to get all the mistakes out of the way. In my first heat that’s exactly what happened, with a minor fall on the second buoy turn. Having that one fall was definitely a bummer, but at the same time I got that out of the way, so that when the semi final and final came around I was relaxed and focused.

The semis were stacked and only 4 of us made it into the finals. This time around no falls, but always little things to improve on so that the finals were flawless. Making it into the finals is always a relief and I was ready for action. The racers all lined up and I had my eyes set on that first buoy turn. The horn blew and I sprinted off the sand into the water with nice board speed allowing me to lock in first place from the start. The first turn went as planned whipping it around in first and started pounding upwind to the next turn. This turn was definitely tricky and I had already fallen on that exact turn in the first heat. It was more than a 180 degree turn straight into some side downwind swells, which I knew was my best chance. I heard a pile up behind me and took off chasing every swell possible. This gave me a little lead, but the race wasn’t over with one more turn and a big stretch into the beach. Noic was right behind me and I knew I had to paddle like crazy to maintain my lead. I caught some little swells that took me to the shoreline and ran up in first place.

I was super stoked to defend my Sprint title from last year, with an even more stacked field of paddlers. With my Fifth Place Finish in the Distance and First Place in the Sprints – this put me in First Place Overall for the weekend.

Always fun to be back in town for a fun grassroots event that brings so many paddlers.

Thanks to all my Sponsors and Family for their support: Starboard, Salt Life, Salt Life Sunglasses, Harmless Harvest Coconut Water, Haleakala Solar, Hi-Tech Sports.

Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers and volunteers. Aloha.

Noic Garioud, redemption podium on the Technical Race after being stopped by cramps on the Graveyard

Noic Garioud: “Being in the Top 5 leading group for 18 kms and looking for a podium and, in the last 2km, getting struck by cramps, is the worst feeling you can have. From top 5 to 11th is really disappointing, but I’ll be back next time. Congratulations to my friend and teammate Michael Booth for his win on the Graveyard course.

It was a way better performance on Day 2, with a 2nd place on the technical race. I guess it’s easier to paddle without cramps. Good one Connor Baxter!
This Carolina Cup 2022 was a great first experience anyway. See you all soon.

Daniel Hasulyo: “my choice of equipment taught me a very valuable lesson”

Daniel Hasulyo: “What a beautiful weekend of racing and celebration of the Sport!

Sunshine, good conditions, an all time international field and a strong cooperation with ICF has created a perfect start of the global season for SUP racing again!

2 days packed with action. Many different categories, courses and the absolute highlights : The 13.2 mile GraveYard Race of Saturday and Sunday’s Tech Race on the Oceanside, really put all the participants at their limits.

It was amazing to come together with the best athletes of the world and once again battle through the ocean, inlets and never-ending intercostal canals of Wrightsville Beach, fighting for that TOP position.

I came to the race very strong and in great shape ready to take podium, but my choice of equipment taught me a very valuable lesson. After training for almost a year on my favorite 2022 Sprint, I thought I was comfortable to hammer through the course with my missile and I actually thought that I would have an edge over the rest of the field because of my extreme board choice. The ocean had very different plans for me though, and as the only athlete with a dedicated flatwater board, right at the start, it got clear to me that I would have to work incredibly hard to keep the pace of the lead group that was just milking the bumps all the way to the inlet. This year we went left, meaning a longer ocean stretch at the start, which favored the boys on more all-around boards, so when we hit the flat section of the race, the lead group already had a proper gap on me and it was my time to put the hammer down to try to close it.

I paddled the whole race alone, trying to catch the front group and although at times I felt I was really close, it became clear that my fight for the podium was gone for this year. At the same time I was feeling extremely good and strong and had no wish to stop, and I knew that some other athletes will get tired, while I don’t, so I took a few deep breaths and paddled my best all the way till the finish line, closing the gap, passing athletes one by one and coming in 8th once again securing a place on that prestigious TOP10 podium of one of the hardest races in the world.

I’m very happy with my performance and also very looking forward to the rest of the season, on the other hand, I paid a big prize for my own decision, so now I’m more fired up then ever to come back next year, no more mistakes, with the right board and finish where I aspect myself to be!

Big congratulations to Michael for taking the win and all the participants for finishing such a grueling course. Paddling alone for the whole race was definitely a mental challenge and I’m really happy that I gave my best and pushed the best out of the board in those conditions! You win or you learn they say, well I got my lesson 🙂

The weekend had incredibly good vibes both days, the water was super blue, not too strong wind and a little swell rolling in, really made the Blockade Runner and the entire venue shine and Sunday it was all about beach racing!

Beach Start – Quick Bouyturns and some surf set the stage for epic battles , and it was an achievement of its own that the whole Dream Team secured their place in the final (8 paddlers only). Connor, Noic, Michael and I all fought ourselves through the heats and semifinals and it was go time once again! In the final I had a flying start and with Connor and Noic by the side , we had a good lead. I got unfortunately stuck at the 3rd buoy, which cost me some time, so I wasn’t able to put foot on the podium, but still racing 7 of the best sprinters of the world and being up there all the way through really fired me up for the rest of the season and showed that the preparation set by SEPA Strength and Endurance Performance Academy is still the best and most professional support that as an athlete I can seek.

After 4 months spent in Thailand, this next month I’ll be finishing my preparation in Bali, in rough conditions to be ready for a huge European summer season. Can’t wait for more racing to come and battle week in week out with the best of the best, and aim to collect as many victories as possible.

Carolina Cup was a blast and is still one of my favorite competitions of all time. A place that always leaves you a deep mark and big satisfaction! Can’t wait for the 2023 edition!

A big shout out to all organizers and volunteers to make this event possible. To ICF for showing interest and support of this amazing race and mostly to all my family and sponsors for the ongoing support and trust in me!: Starboard, Mini Thailand, PFL Academy, Selecto, SEPA Training, VMG Blades, SUNGOD, Coros

See you on the water, enjoy and smile.

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About the Author

Mathieu Astier

Mathieu is the hyper-active founder of TotalSUP and a multilingual online marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience working for top international internet companies. His love-at-first-sight for Stand Up Paddling in 2013 led him to build one of the leading online media dedicated to SUP in English and French and to turn his family lifestyle towards the ocean.

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