Just a month since dominating the Huntington Beach Watermen's Festival following his third-place finish in the Molokai2Oahu contest, paddleboard champion and ironman Matt Poole is returning to California in the hunt for more silverware.
The Nutri-Grain ironman and former Molokai2Oahu prone paddleboard champ descends on Orange County this week to prepare for the Paddle Pacific Games at Dana Point on September 30.
The annual contest welcomes the world’s best paddlers, Poole making his debut after injury ruled him out of contesting last year’s event.
“I’ll be racing in all the PPG prone paddleboard events,” said Poole, who returned to Australia but weeks ago following a month-long “working” holiday in the USA, where he raced on river rapids and took on waterfalls in Portland.
“The leg’s feeling heaps better and I’m looking forward to getting back at it.”
By leg he means the staph infection and bone bruising - among other things - that saw him hospitalized twice in the lead-up to Hawaii. Despite little to no training while being rehabilitated, he still managed a third in Molokai - even if he was physically ill at the start of the race.
Since then, he’s come into form with victories in the Huntington Beach Waterman’s contest and six uninterrupted weeks of training. And with the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman series a little over two months away, another strong showing in Dana Point will mark the ultimate beginning to the official pre-season.
One thing he will have to battle with is the drastic change in water temp since his last trip. While Californian water temps are cool at the best of times, just four weeks since Poole competed at Huntington Beach and the water temperature has dropped from 18 to just 15 degrees celsius. He may well find himself paddling in a wetsuit.
“It's a huge event on the SUP calendar and this year there’s some good competition in the prone races,” Pooley says.
“Cold or not, I can’t wait!”