Michael Booth on his way to yet another distance race victory, this time at the 2017 APP World Tour’s Maui Pro-Am. Photo: 808 photo

World Champion Distance Racer Michael Booth Talks Racing, Training and the Path To SUP Stardom

Interview by Rebecca Parsons

Michael Booth grew up surfing and swimming on the shores of Caves Beach, a small coastal town on the east coast of Australia. On the cusp of adulthood, he moved to Queensland to pursue his dream of becoming an Ironman. A few years and numerous metals later, he took on ocean ski paddling as a form of cross training. His success in the sport was instant and he took home a second-place finish in the World Series and won the World Cup in Durban. To compliment his training, he added kayaking to the agenda and found it to be yet another sport in which he excelled. In 2014, the decorated waterman was introduced to SUP and by 2016 he decided to give it his full focus. His dedication paid off and he won the Pacific Paddle Games Pro Men's Distance Race as well as the ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship Distance Race. Here, the Aussie shares his training secrets as well as his goals for the upcoming year. –RP

This was essentially your rookie year and you killed it. Do you think your background in kayaking and ocean ski racing helped you a lot?

Absolutely, I think over time I developed my cardiovascular system to the point where I have a great strength in endurance racing. That combined with time spent training with the Australian Institute of Sport for Kayaking on the Gold Coast definitely helped me understand my body better and help design the way I train for SUP now. Sit-down paddling and standup paddling aren’t too different—

the same upper body muscle groups are used. However, I had to increase strength in my lower body.

Can you describe how it felt to win the PPG distance race?

It was definitely an awesome achievement for me. My goal was to win the distance race and I broke away early and didn’t look back. But the biggest achievement for the weekend for me was making the final of the technical race. I’d worked really hard on my skills and it was good to see training pay off to give me a second-place overall finish for the weekend.

Booth crosses the finish line victorious at in the Pro Men’s Distance Race at #PPG2016. Photo: Lorenzo Menendez

Tell us more about competing on the Euro Tour. What were some big wins and standout events?

Euro Tour last year was a big learning curve for me as I learned about racing, tactics, and the other top athletes in the sport. Winning the first distance race in St. Maxine was a huge confidence booster for me, and then taking out Lost Mills allowed me to stamp my authority as a genuine contender in the sport. Coming away from the Tour I felt like I knew what I needed to do for each and every race moving forward.

What's a typical week of training look like for you?

When I’m building my base for the year I try and do three to four SUP sessions a week combined with one or two cross training sessions on the ski. I also combine that with a couple of gym and running sessions to build my overall fitness. When I start racing and travelling, I do what I can to maintain my fitness and strength. It can become difficult to train properly on the road and you can only do what you can, but I try and keep it as similar as possible. I write down all my own training plans so I can really tailor it to exactly what I need. I make sure I keep my training balanced and get good rest both mentally and physically!

What are some big goals for this year?

The long-term plan is to keep enjoying what I am doing and living a life where I take every opportunity as it is presented. This year I’d love to finish the year on the top of the SUP Racer World Rankings, win PPG, win the Euro Tour, win ISA, and win the APP World Series! I know all this will be very hard to do as I’m sure everyone wants these titles, but I’ve always strived to be the best and if I enter something I want to win.

What advice would you give to up and coming SUP athletes?

There’s a couple of things that I think are essential. First, get your skills right because at the end of the day training is easy. Focus on not making mistakes and work on your weaknesses, not just your strengths. Lastly, listen to everyone, read and study the sport, and then work out what’s best for you. No one knows you better than you.

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