James Casey is having a fantastic performance in September! First he had an amazing weekend in his home country, winning two events at Australian Titles 2016. By finishing the technical race in 1st place, he will represent Australia at ISA World StandUp Paddle (SUP) and Paddleboard Championship in Denmark, next year. He was also able to finish the marathon at the top place. Later, James went to Japan to have another successful weekend after winning Tottori Marathon in August. He finished in 2nd place in both races at Japan Cup 2016. His report shows all the details about the competitions:
Australian Titles 2016
Photos: Surfing WA/Majeks
The Australian Titles of Stand Up Paddling was in Geraldton, Western Australia, for the first time meaning a change of scenery and conditions. For me it was the first time the event wasn’t held in Currumbin, Queensland, so I was looking forward to something different.
The technical race was first off on Saturday with some great conditions. An offshore breeze and 2-3 foot waves on the outside reef created ideal conditions for the race. Three laps of an M shape course split up by a 50 meter run meant it was going to be a tough race. Waves on the outside reef could also mean any lead you built could be eaten away quickly. As with any race in waves there was going to be an element of luck.
The gun went off and we raced out to the first can. I managed to get to the can first and was hoping I’d get a wave to open up an early lead. I got a little bump but not enough to open anything up as Cyprien, Maskell, Judson and Fry all managed to get the wave behind me and we all turned the middle can at around the same time. I put on another sprint hoping I’d get better luck with waves after the next turn. Again the waves weren’t cooperating with four of us on one wave to the beach. We hit the beach at the same time with Maskell hitting the water first for the second lap. I managed to catch up, turn the can first and get a wave straight away. This was the little bit of luck I needed to get a break. At the next can I turned onto another wave, surfing it most of the way in. I managed to hold this lead for the final lap and come away with my maiden Australian Title. I had qualified for ISA to represent my country but I had the marathon on Sunday so could not celebrate just yet.
The morning of the marathon there was almost no wind. What we had hoped to be a fun downwind course didn’t look like it would eventuate. The local WA paddlers were getting out there flatwater boards while I had only brought my ocean board. If the wind held off it was going to be a tough day.
We started at midday and still no wind. The course started with a 3km ‘downwind section’ a turn then a 3 km ‘upwind section’ then a 12km downwind leg finishing at Drummonds Cove. In reality these downwind and upwind sections were just flat ocean sections as the wind was so light. There was however little swells in the ocean which provided some assistance on the way down. I managed to break away from the main pack on the way to the first turn milking the ocean swells. On the way back up the main group caught me so we had a 6 man train back to the beginning of the 12km section.
We turned for the 12km downwind stretch and Lee made a move getting a slight lead on me, dragging a few other paddlers with him. The further along we got the less drafting occurred, it became a race between Lee and I. While it never really felt windy small technical bumps developed and I managed to open up a 30 meter lead on Lee and held it until the final buoy. At the buoy I turned straight onto a bump, effectively doubling my lead straight away. I surfed over the reefs into the finish line for my second victory of the weekend. The surfing followed on Monday and I never really managed to find my groove, physically aching from a big weekend of racing. I managed to squeak through to the quarterfinal before finding myself out of rhythm with the ocean having to settle for a third in my heat and equal 9th in the surfing portion of Australian Titles. Overall a great weekend in Western Australia where I qualified to represent Australia at ISA in Denmark November 2017.
Japan Cup 2016
Photos: Aquila Noguchi
What a weekend, some tough racing on day 1 and short sharp sprinting on day 2. The event for, my second year, had such a great atmosphere and as athletes we were treated so well. The 18km race was on the first day with a bumpy course race. The race basically consisted of a few upwind legs where competitors formed draft trains and one downwind leg where the race was either win or lost. My race had a few ups and downs, leading at the start only to lose a lot of ground on, eventual winner, Michael Booth and Matt Nottage early on. A draft train was then formed to chase down these two. I had to conserve for most of the second lap, not feeling on top of my game and planning an attack for the downwind section. The chase group was whittled down to three with local hero, Kenny Kaneko and young Aussie Tim Cyprien, who was paddling very well upwind. Matt Nottage was within reach and on the second half of the final lap Kenny and I managed to catch him making it a three way battle for 2nd place. The wind had changed angle so there were now two downwind sections to attack on the final few kilometers. I left nothing in the tank and attacked these two sections opening up just a big enough gap to take a hard earned second place, probably my best race tactically in an international race. I was happy enough but hungry for day 2.
Unfortunately there was some drama with the race jerseys which hadn’t been finished properly by the manufacturer resulting in chemical burns/rashes for a large proportion of competitors. I was lucky enough to not be affected but many had to head to the hospital following the first day of racing. This almost prevented the second day from happening but all paddlers agreed they wanted the second day of racing go ahead and support what is such a great event. The Jamie Mitchell inspired survivor race kicked off just after midday, a very different, short and sharp style of racing. The field was cut down until there were only ten paddlers for the final race. I was feeling good but it was going to be a sprint to the first marker as conditions were basically flat, in stark contrast to the waves we had last year. The gun went off and Toby Cracknell and I had a little battle before Michael Booth and I fought hard for the second position. I just managed to get ahead of him despite being in the outside position going into the turn. Sprinting star, Mo Freitas turned first and it stayed like this for the remainder of the race. Boothy and I made a late push on the final lap but didn’t have enough in the tank to jump out of the train and into the lead. After our race we watched the 3km amateur race and celebrated what was an awesome weekend of racing.”