‘Injuries can become your greatest teacher,’ Laird Hamilton’s quote has become a mantra for Infinity SUP Rider Kane Degrauw, who returned to the SUP racing circuit after a long recovery caused by his knee surgery. TotalSUP caught up with this talented SUP athlete always on the lookout ‘for the biggest physical and mental challenge’ to go through his toughest SUP journey to date.
Photo credit: APP World Tour
Hi Kane, welcome to TotalSUP! We remember your #APPFastTrack competition video with that super explosive paddling and you just smashing it! Could you share with us your stand-up paddleboarding journey to date?
Back in 2019 I was coaching my partner, Chloe Walkerdene, who was competing full time on the World Tour with all her programming and so on. At the time she trained solo, usually at 4am she was on the water in the dark freezing cold. As her Coach I really wanted to find a way in which I could help push her and to be there in real to time to adjust technique or the day’s training. So I started paddling. At first the plan did not work, as I couldn’t paddle further than 20m before falling in every time. This took a month to build my stability to be able to paddle alongside Chloe for an hour session.
Photo credit: APP World Tour
Throughout the process of just building the stamina to stay on the board I slowly become more and more addicted to the process. I have always loved a challenge and have always been looking for the biggest physical and mental challenge, but the physicality and aerobic strain of SUP training and racing blew me away. Six months down the track Chloe and I were quickly clocking 80-100km per week. Now we both are proud to be full time SUP racing athletes on the World Tour.
You have recently been on yet another journey – A journey to full recovery after your knee injury. Could you tell us more about the process and share your insight and advice with fellow paddlers?
My advice is, don’t rupture your ACL (Anterior cruciate ligament), it sucks, haha. It’s been a massive journey, 2 months without any salt water, 5 months with no SUP training, 11 months of no surfing, my scales were drying up and I was going insane!
By coincidence, on day 1 post-surgery I stumbled across Robby Naish’s ‘The Longest Wave’ movie, which spoke about his journey through a horrific windsurfing hip injury he went through. A few legends like Kai and Laird stared in the clip but there was a quote by Laird Hamilton that stuck with me: ‘Injuries can become your greatest teacher’.
That became the mantra as soon as I heard it and I made sure to not leave any stone unturned from that point on. We moved from Kalbarri on the West Coast of Australia to the Gold Coast, on the East Coast to ensure I had the best team around me so when I did return to racing, I was stronger because of the rehab journey. I worked with Ace Heath Physio and Pindara Physio with three physio sessions per week, then with Cohen Crispin and Worko down at Surfing Australia for all programming Strength & Conditioning and Paddle Coaching with 3-6 sessions per week, 4:30 am wake ups, rehab, breathwork, change of diet and a whole bloody lot of patience.
Could you tell us more about your collaboration with Infinity SUP?
I think many of us can agree that we are all lucky to have legends like Dave Boehne in the sport.With how committed he is to the sport and welcoming, all while pushing the boundaries of race board designs and engineering. Dave saved us in London during the APP World Tour stop with sourcing two, 21″ wide Whiplash boards just two weeks before the race weekend. Chloe and I were incredibly grateful and wanted to help return the favour. While we believed Infinity had the fastest race board on the market, but more importantly for us to have a team of legends around us who froth paddling and surfing as much as we do all while having as much fun as we can along the journey.
That’s why we choose to plant an Infinity under our feet when racing and surfing. The Infinity Blackfish 12’6 x 25′ wide was the first race board I laid my claws into back in 2019, Chloe raced for Infinity back in the day and now that the world has opened up again we really want to help move the needle to grow Infinity in Australia with race, surf SUPs and surfboards.
What’s your Infinity SUP board set up?
Infinity Blackfish is a go to for me. I love sprint training and even more when there’s a few tasty waves on offer. In South Korea I raced the 21.5” dugout Blackfish which was a weapon! Awesome in the sprint surf race and the distance race had a small downwind leg which when teamed up with a small fin like the Black project SUP Sonic fin, the Blackfish ate the bumps up for breakfast.
What’s next? What’s in your SUP competition pipeline?
This year I’ll be keeping my head low and knuckling down into training, the Australian SUP racing scene is coming to life like never before with the Shaw & Partners WA Race week, Oceania Racing Championships in early 2023 in Perth, National Ocean Champs on the Gold coast and heaps of local flatwater and downwind races in Perth. It’s going to be the perfect training and racing season for building and representing my team to the highest level so that hopefully in time I can attract sponsors to help me along the journey leading to an opportunity and dream to race a full year on the APP World Tour.
Photo credit: APP World Tour
Thank you for your time and good luck with all your professional SUP plans!
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