The Australian race powerhouse talks training, competition, board-class and the future of SUP

Age: 26

A lot of people are getting more professional about their approach to competition in our sport. They’re putting together serious training programs and getting professional coaches. It's a shift toward legitimizing the sport on the top level.

Throughout the year I try to do two or three gym exercises a week, mainly using body weight. Looking back, my best results have come after a good period of consistently doing those strength workouts. I used to play rugby union and during those years I spent a lot of time in the gym. That's helped me work on different strength aspects.

To me it's all about the power-to-weight ratio. No matter how hard I train, I struggle to get below the mid- to low-80 kilos (around 175 pounds). I'm never going to be Kai Lenny or Vinni Martin's weight so I focus on what works for me and that's my strength. When everyone hits that part in the race where they're really hurting, I need to rely on the power I have whereas other people might rely on fitness or technique. I just try to hammer.

I'm looking to get quality results rather than quantity results this year. The second half of my year gets pretty busy, so the first half I sort of take as pre-season and then toward mid-summer I'm completely booked through December.

Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

The whole board class debate is really interesting. A lot of people think 12'6" boards are easier to race in surf, but personally I think 14' is the best overall class. It's 100-percent quicker, and if a wave is going to break on you you're going to get stuffed on a 12'6" and you're going to get stuffed on a 14'. Events like PPG show that all the pro guys can use a 14' in the waves and it works fine, even in heavy conditions. Still, it's going to be regional: In Japan, no one uses a 14'. In Australia it's pretty much all 14'. And in the US it's still sort of split.

“I need to rely on the power I have whereas other people might rely on fitness or technique. I just try to hammer.”

I think we'll see more women on 14' boards as the technology gets better. If shapers lower the volume and make them a little thinner—make boards that are more manageable and tailored to women—the ladies would do great in a 14-foot board class. I'm hoping the technology will get there and it starts to trend that way.

Foilboarding is definitely going to be part of SUP's future. The technology's already come so far since Kai (Lenny) and Connor (Baxter) started doing downwinders on them a little over a year ago. Those guys started doing it on 12'6" race boards cut down and modified with a foil, and now they've gone to short boards, little six-foot hybrid surf-race boards and shapes we haven't ever seen before in SUP. Once we get the technology dialed in a bit more I may start foiling in races. It's a whole new realm of speed and I'm really excited about it. There's a ton of potential for progression.

Watch James Casey SUP Surfing in Oahu