10 Q's w/ Carter Graves

Gratitude from a humble champion

2013 Catalina Classic Champ, 2014 Molokai Champ, and general ocean funhaver - here's Carter . . . .

RM:  Athlete that inspires you?

CG:  Bethany Hamilton!  She still kills it even having seemingly lost everything after her shark attack.  I read the book Soul Surfer when I was a young girl and I have been following Bethany's journey ever since.  Her story motivated me to follow my passion with the ocean and push through all the obstacles in my life to achieve my dreams.  If Bethany could do it, I knew I could!  Now she is not just killing it in the water, but in all aspects of her life and motivating thousands of girls to go for their dreams and not hold back!  Love this girl and hope to meet her one day in the near future.  

RM:  How many years have you been competing?

CG:  I have been competing in sport my whole life.  I started as a swimmer and competed in swimming since I was 8 until I was 20.  I swam two years collegiately at the Division I level at Rice University before I hung up the cap and goggles for the ocean.  Swimming prepared me as a paddler and ocean athlete to withstand both physical and mental pain and to live a healthy and active lifestyle.  I always had a passion for the ocean, but because swimming trampled over this when I was younger it was not until I was 20 that I able to harness this passion.  I started lifeguarding at this age at Coronado City Beach and it was here that I fell in love with paddling and lifesaving competition.  I was also an avid surfer, but I needed activities to keep me in the water even when it was flat.  Thus, I picked up a paddleboard and the last two years have been a whirlwind of adventure in the water and I can not wait to see where the future takes me. I hope to not only continue competing in prone paddling, but in the future train and compete at a high level in other crafts including SUP and surfski.   

RM:  What fuels your competitiveness?

CG:  I have an internal drive for competitiveness and intrinsic rewards tend to motivate me more than the tangible extrinsic rewards.  It is pretty simple... I just love to compete... it is nice to win, but as I have matured I just love competition in general.  I have been competing in sport since a very young age and this lifestyle of training and competing drives me and gives me direction in life.  I especially enjoy endurance racing, because you have to focus all your energy for such a long period of time.  For me this becomes a calming and meditative process and I could not pick any place I would rather be than in the middle of the ocean on my paddleboard.  

RM:  Weekend trip... where to? what do you bring? Your car, your gear. Itemize it!

CG:  I would bring a few surfboards and few friends and go down to Baja!  I love adventure and because Mexico is so close to us, I love taking advantage of going here!  Some good waves followed by the best tacos around and back in the states before dark never makes for a bad day.

RM:  Lone wolf or training companion? why?

CG:  I definitely would choose to have a training companion.  It is sometimes nice to be alone training and pushing yourself individually, but I would always pick to have someone next to me.  When training starts to hurt I need the encouragement from training partners to keep me going strong.  I love being able to share my greatest passion in the ocean with other people and know they are feeling a similar connection to the water.  

RM:  Pinnacle racing moment so far?

CG:  Definitely this would be just a few weeks back when I won the stock division in the Molokai 2 Oahu World Championships!  This was my first crossing of the Ka'iwi Channel and I knew it was going to be a challenge and I was going to be completely out of my comfort zone in the big Hawaii waters.  I was definitely right and struggled at the beginning to adjust to the crazy conditions.  I mentally was forced to pull it together and rely on the amount and quality of my California training.  I raced that channel with my heart and had a very spiritual and emotional experience in the channel.  I had no idea I was winning until I crossed the line with champagne sprayed in my face and a lei around my head.  I had won my first world championship!  I am still in shock of this accomplishment and thankful for all the people who helped me make this dream a reality.  It definitely was a team effort!!

RM:  Sponsors?

CG:  My mom and dad are my greatest "sponsors" as they have supported me in sport since I was kid and believed in me even when I wanted to do crazy things like paddle miles out in the middle of the ocean.  In addition, Joe Bark and the Surftech family have provided me with the best boards I could ask for!  Joe shaped my very first paddleboard and has been one of the greatest encouragers to me in sport and life.  Now I race the Surftech Bark Commander and am in LOVE with this board!  I also represent Oakley Women and Jolyn Swimwear as a part of their teams.  Patagonia has provided me with some amazing wetsuits and gear, and Surf Diva Surf Shop has helped provide me with my surfing and paddling necessities.  I also want to give a shout out to Stu Kenson for amazing surfboards, Rickaroons for keeping me fueled, and URT for giving me stoke everyday!  

RM:  What are you training for now?

CG:  I am currently just ending my season with the Catalina Classic this Sunday!  I then am moving to Australia for the our winter (their summer) to continue my training.  I will be training more on SUP and hope to be ready to compete in this for next year!  I also will be working on sprint paddling, and competing in lifesaving competition down under!!! My goal is to be proficient at as many ocean crafts as I can so I hope to keep picking them up one at a time...

Do you have a dream race you want to create?

I would love to be a part of developing a "Watermen's" World Tour of some sort.  My friend Stephan Lambert in Tahiti has began working on such a project with the beginning seen in the Watermen's Tahiti Tour and the Ironman event in Bora Bora.  These races include open water swimming, prone paddling, SUP, and a variety of other crafts.  I would love to continue helping develop a tour which included all aspects of being a waterman/woman and be able to travel and expand these activities throughout the world.  

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