ULLADULLA’S Kai Bates recently returned from Sunset Beach, Geraldton, as a national champion after winning his maiden open men’s Stand Up Paddleboard title.
Bates claimed the 2016 Toyota Australian SUP Title with a 17.00 point heat total in the final to edge out NSW surfer Martin Cole along with brothers Rick and Jake Jakovich. After narrowly missing out on a national title last year due to an interference call, the 21-year-old took the win with 9.00 and 8.00 scoring rides.
“From the early stages of competing in the sport, I had dreams and set goals one being to be the number one in Australia,” Bates said.
“This title has been a burning desire - I have come close in past years and only missing last year’s title due to a highly debatable interference.
“This only made my desire stronger this year and this is one of my biggest achievements to date.
“One of the more important parts to winning this title is that I now have the opportunity to represent my country. The national title allows me to attend the 2017 ISA (International Surfing Association) world championships being held in Denmark - I hope to do our country proud.”
Bates, who has been involved in a number of sports, such as snowboarding, surfing and windsurfing, and admits he fell into the sport of SUP.
“I was always on a crash course to succeed at some sport - it was a dream of mine all through my childhood to pursue a high level sport that could possibly lead into a lifestyle,” he said.
“There were so many people in my life that influenced my love of sport, as both my parents were into various sports.
“From the age of two, my winter playground was the snow fields at Mount Hotham and my summers were spent in the water at Ulladulla.
“Being bought up in these two amazing environments has allowed me to either ski or surf almost every day of my life; therefore it was a natural progression that these sports became my passion.
“SUP came into my life by default you may say, as I was a very dedicated one eyed surfer and came from a line of surfers who still don’t always take kindly to my equipment change.
“I enjoyed bagging SUP surfing as my mother and step-father started their journey on this new equipment.
“For more than 20 years our family attended a long running windsurfing event, now called the Merimbula Classic, where both kite surfing and SUP surfing has now become a huge part of it.
“About nine years ago as a grommet and always wanting to be on the water, I took to the water, because of some very small swell and no wind, on a variety of demo SUP boards and ended up returning home with the ‘up and coming junior title’ which rewarded me with my very own SUP and the rest is history.”
Bates intends to build on this amazing achievement in the future.
“I am regularly working on my goals and the next stage is to continue on at a global level I will be following the Stand Up World Tour again this year,” he said.
“I am ranked 15th in the world at this point and my aim is to improve and the ultimate would be to become world champion. I will also be working on becoming a ‘waterman’ and that will involve furthering my skill as a windsurfer and kitesurfer as one of this year’s goal.”
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