With his decisive win at the Carolina Cup after a grueling back and forth game of cat and mouse in a three-man draft pack with Danny Ching and Connor Baxter for the majority of the race, Travis Grant humbly left an exclamation point on North America’s most important coastal SUP race of 2015. But before the final drone videos recapturing the glory made the rounds on social media, Grant was back home in Hawaii working his full-time “day job” doing boat canvas work fitting upholstery and trimming. “My dad always says ‘Life’s a balance’ and we used to make fun of him all the time for saying that. But you know it holds so true. Life is all about balance. I try to get that balance just right with work, play, spending time with my wife, renovating our new/very old house and of course training,” he told me prior to his departure for the initial events of the 2015 Euro Tour in Port Adriano and St. Maxime.
The Ascendance of Travis Grant
Like many Australians, Travis Grant has been active in water sports for much of his life. He is an accomplished outrigger paddler and loves spending time on the ocean, regardless of the type of craft. Even so, prior to his prominent 2013 victories, first in the prestigious Molokai to Oahu race and then the élite distance race at the Battle of the Paddle – California, his name was not as easily recognizable by the general public as that of some of his contemporaries. Grant has added a number of wins to his résumé since the summer of 2013, yet it is the memory of his victory in the Molokai to Oahu race that year which resonates with him the strongest. “It was my first time attempting it on a SUP and I wasn’t expecting to walk away with the win. I didn’t actually know I was leading until I reached Oahu and had about 45 minutes left in the race. At that point my escort boat shouted over that I was in the lead by a considerable margin,” said Grant.
Travis Grant – Board Testing. Photo, Chris Aguilar
As his skills continued to develop, Grant began to follow the path of many watermen before him and relocated to Hawaii. “I still pinch myself every day living in such an amazing place. The ocean here has it all,” he told me. Spoiled by the idyllic trappings of the tropical paddling paradise, Grant said he would enjoy paddling anywhere, as long as it is warm and on the ocean. “The ocean is like this alive, moving playground”, he said. “Everytime you get out there, even if it’s in the same location each day, it will feel different.”
Sharing the sentiments of other Molokai to Oahu champions, Travis Grant was quite emphatic in his lack of enthusiasm for flat water paddling. “The rougher and more challenging the conditions the better,” he stated. “I love having to adjust, learn, and harness the ocean’s energy.”
Strong Bonds and Unique Relationships
Travis Grant’s love of the ocean and the knowledge he has gained through trial and error has enabled the affable Aussie to become involved in collaborative endeavors with his equipment manufacturers beyond the traditional athlete – sponsor relationship. “I didn’t actually go looking for the chance to help with design at first,” he told me, “Before long, people started asking me what I thought of this board, etc. I would offer a non-technical answer of how it felt to me then ask them why I felt that. I was just fortunate enough to be asking the best in the business. Dale Chapman and Alain Teurquetil have shaped nearly all my board from day one. It is a range which NSP now produces for us.”
A similar scene unfolded when he unknowingly struck up a conversation with the world’s top paddle designer, Jim Terrell, the four-time Olympian and founder of Quickblade Paddles. “When I first met Jim years ago we started talking about paddles and I didn’t realize who he was,” said Grant. The two cultivated their friendship even though at the time Grant was under contract to use a different manufacturer’s paddles. After fulfilling his contractual obligations to his previous sponsor, Grant joined the Quickblade Team and quickly made his mark as a knowledgeable athlete with the acumen to provide input on one of Quickblade’s most successful paddle design innovations in the short history of modern stand up paddling – the Quickblade Trifecta. “When I used the first prototype I won Molokai. Then when I used the second prototype I won the Battle of the Paddle distance race. So I’m like, Yes, Jim we have a winner!,” Grant told me.
Crossing the Ka’iwi Channel. Photo, Chris Aguilar
As any top athlete will acknowledge, having the confidence in one’s equipment is a key mental factor which gives them a performance edge over their competition. “It helps when you are on the line knowing your equipment will give you an advantage. That’s how I feel every time I line up with my Quickblade Trifecta and NSP board,” he said.
After his successful outings at The Euro Tour’s Port Adriano SUP Race and SUP Race Cup, Grant departed Europe for his home back in Hawaii where family, work and the opportunity for additional ocean-going competition awaited. After all, life’s a balance.