Before heading to Europe in April, Ty Judson was something of an up-and-comer in the world of stand-up paddle board (SUP) racing, but after he blitzed a field of top internationals at the World SUP Festival in Spain, he quickly established himself as a name to be reckoned with in the sport.
Currently ranked second on the world SUP rankings, the 19-year-old from Pacific Palms said he wasn't expecting the win, but with a strong wind to paddle into in the first third of the 17km race, he knew he was in with a chance.
"I knew that was one of my strengths, the headwind," he said.
"At the halfway mark I knew I could do it."
Spending three months in Europe for the sport's premier run of events, he was able to carry his momentum forward, claiming another victory at the Pornichet Paddle Trophy in France and finishing in the top five in all his other races.
Back in the Great Lakes now, Ty said the whole experience was really positive, from claiming his first major win to travelling through France, Spain, Greece and Czechoslovakia with his fellow competitors.
A relatively new sport, Ty only took up SUP racing around five years ago, after first enjoying it as a way to ride the waves.
In that time the sport has progressed rapidly, and after discovering a natural talent for it, Ty has been determined to progress with it.
He started working with an American-based strength and conditioning coach two years ago and has been pouring his focus into it ever since, training up to four times a day and doing everything he can to become a smarter, faster paddler.
He believed hard work had contributed a lot to his recent success and was also a big factor in separating the guys at the top.
"People think it's so straightforward but there are so many tactics," he said.
"You've really got to be race-smart."
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Now a professional SUP racer, with sponsors NSP and Moby's Retreat behind him and prize money coming in each time he posts a big result, Ty has his eye on a number of goals.
The most immediate of these is to claim his first Australian title in Phillip Island later this year, followed hopefully by a win in the 52km Molokai to Oahu race in Hawaii sometime in the near future.
"That's one race I really want to win," he said.
"It's so prestigious."
Beyond the competitive realm and the goal of continuing to do what he loves, he hopes to serve as an ambassador for the sport and introduce more people to it.
"I love what I do and I'm happy to share it with everyone," he said.
Ty heads to Japan in September to compete in the next round of international races.
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