Michael Booth did it again yesterday and this time it is a World Crown he has managed to snatch with authority – and vertigo – in brutal conditions. Interview with Boothy, revelation of the year and the new ISA World SUP Long Distance Champion!
Michael, you are the 2016 ISA World Long Distance champion, where does this one sit among all the wins and podiums of your incredible 2016 season?
The feeling is indescribable in a way. To be able to call yourself a world champion is something truly special.
This win would have to sit probably at equal number 1 for the year. I was going to say that winning the distance at PPG was the greatest victory, as all the top paddlers were there, and on just results it would be far the number one. However personally for me the ISA Distance race was one of the toughest races I have ever done. It was so tough, hot and flat and to hold on like I did in those final few kilometres was a huge win for me. It was also awesome to be racing for my country and having team mates screaming for me!
Can you take us through your race plan from start to finish?
Considering how hot and flat it was my race plan was just to stay in the mix for the first half of the race and then attack toward the end. There were a few bumps at the start of the race but I wasn’t feeling good at the start of the race so I couldn’t capitalise. I think I tried to break the train ten times once we left Namotu before it finally came off. The whole time I was trying to stay composed and chase those really small grindy swells to pull away from the pack. But everyone was paddling so well and it was almost impossible to pull away. To be honest I was surprised I got away in the end.
You looked like you were on the verge of collapsing after the race? Can you give us any specifics on this?
The race was brutal. It was a hot 30+ degrees, no wind and super flat. It was those conditions when you get vertigo. My preparation wasn’t ideal I raced both Saturday and Sunday in three tough races in AUS before flying out on Monday to Fiji. I basically spent the three days in Fiji recovering rather than trying to peak for the event. During the race I definitely didn’t hydrate properly and lost over 4L of water in the race. Definitely something I need to work on in the future and to be honest I don’t think anyone was expecting such a brutal race. It actually didn’t help any athletes that the race was postponed an hour once everyone was on the water. Adding more time out in the heat with no extra water.
After the race I was delirious and looking back I’m surprised I got to the finish line in first or at all. In that last three km all I focused on was the next stroke hoping that T2, Arthur and Geroge wouldn’t catch me. After being so exhausted and being able to push to the line and take the win is a huge mental achievement for me.
Is the SUP racing season over yet?
The Sup season isn’t over yet I have one more major event in Perth at the KOTC. It’s an event I really would like to do well at as it’s a pure downwind race and I really want to shake the flat water tag. I’ve been practicing a lot over west, but only race day will tell. Then I’m having a bit of a break before resuming training in January.
What do you think of Fiji and of the competition so far?
I actually came here once before in 1997 when I was the ripe young age of 6! I don’t remember much of it but all I can say is that not much has changed. It’s still a tropical paradise and the people are so helpful and welcoming. I really have enjoyed it over here and I’m sure I’ll be back for a holiday at some point!