Australian Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) powerhouse Michael Booth made it three in a row last week when he won the 2022 edition of the gruelling 21.2-km (13.2-mile) Carolina Cup Graveyard Race, after taking the title in his last two appearances in 2018 and 2019.
One of the most prestigious and longest standing events in the sport, the Carolina Cup dates back to 2011 and has grown to attract amateur and professional athletes from all over the world, with more than 80 participants lined up at the start of the Graveyard Race.
Once deemed the de-facto World Championships for distance paddlers due to the breadth of skills, talent and tactics required to win the title, the race challenges athletes to navigate variable conditions across flat water, inland waterways, tides, wind, currents and ocean swells.
“I am extremely proud to win my third Carolina Cup in a row. It’s an event that has a bit of everything, which really challenges every participant,” said Booth.
“My race went mostly to plan. I got a good start, I caught the bumps well on the outside, I got to the front pack, worked on my tactics on the inside, then despite a few cramps I pushed hard in that final sprint and finished with nothing left.
“Winning this event is never easy but always satisfying!” he said.
Booth is a professional athlete and coach who meticulously plans his training regime to be able to compete at the highest level. A member of the Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club, the Western Australian has also been competing in surf lifesaving over the summer, including a participation in the Australian Championships (Aussies) on the Gold Coast in April.
“Competing in surf lifesaving gave me a good base-level of training before I shifted to an endurance phase for over a month on the Ocean Ski and SUP,” Booth explained.
“The focus for this was getting time on the water in preparation for a two-hour race and focusing on the mind, to be able to deliver a win.”
Next up on Booth’s calendar is a three-week training block before heading back overseas to deliver multiple clinics around Europe and compete in Spain and Germany, with a trip to the USA in between.
As he juggles a busy schedule on the road fueled by his passion for the sport, he will also try to spend as much time as possible with his young family, after becoming a father earlier this year.
“There are so many things I enjoy about SUP and paddling in general and I am super passionate about the sport.” Booth said.
“I enjoy the workouts, the friendships, the camaraderie, the opportunity to travel and how I can continually keep learning to be my best. When it comes to racing, I find it so satisfying to put in the preparation and see the results at the finish line. There is nothing like it!”
After competing in swimming and surf lifesaving as a teenager, Booth found a niche in Ocean Ski Paddling at 20 years of age and began kayaking to improve his performance in the new discipline.
He represented Australia at the 2014 ICF World Championships in the K2 500m before dedicating himself to paddling SUP. He has now become one of the most successful athletes in the world and a terrific ambassador for a discipline full of potential.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how the sport grows and develops over the coming years,” Booth said.
“I think we are in an exciting period for both athletes and coaches alike!”