There’s no such thing as little league SUP cross. It’s a hard-charging contact sport, incidental or otherwise, on moving water, where rubbin’ is racing and it’s every man for himself.
So it makes sense that the stand-up paddle powerhouses at the GoPro Mountain Games might dismiss a skinny 12-year-old in baggy board shorts as just another spectator, even when he was racing. But after 4 years in the shadows, Miles Harvey is ready to step up to the big leagues.
“He started racing against adults at the Mountain Games when he was 12 and he’s always been the cute kid with the skills, but never had the horsepower to compete with the Spencer Lacys and Mike Ts of the world,” Mike Harvey said of his now 16-year-old son. “This winter he worked with a trainer in Salida and put some horsepower behind the technique. It’s pretty cool to see him catch up physically and be able to paddle with the big boys.”
To be clear, no one has crowned Miles Harvey as king of the YETI SUP Surf Cross. Yet. But after finishing fourth at the Mountain Games in 2017, young Miles sprouted from a diminutive 5-foot-3 and 110 pounds to a solid 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds this year. He’s added more muscle after a winter in the weight room and at the first major SUP cross race this spring, the change was evident.
“At Paddlefest in Buena Vista he won every heat leading up to the finals and was winning the finals against the best racers in the sport until the second-to-last buoy,” Mike Harvey said. “Then Mike T (Tavares) served him up some veteran craftiness and just blasted him out of position. He never saw it coming.”
So, yeah, some lessons are learned the hard way. In a sport like SUP cross — where four to six paddlers are all trying to get to the same spot at the same time — seasoned racers are never out of contention until they’ve crossed the finish line. Brains are as important as brawn.
“When you race against the faster guys, you have to have some strategy. I knew right when I went through the gate that I’d messed up,” Miles said. “But I learned a lot from it, like maybe spend a little more time studying the course and figuring out what other people are doing.”
Fortunately for Miles, he’s surrounded by teachers. It certainly doesn’t hurt that his father is co-founder of Salida, Colorado-based Badfish SUP and designer of the Arkansas River whitewater park. Miles has grown up paddling and surfing for hours almost every day of the summer. He’s the youngest Team Rider for Badfish (alongside Lacy, Tavares and other pros) and a Kokatat ambassador recognized for his river surfing skills. By the end of the 2018 Mountain Games, he’s hoping to be known just as well for his racing ability.
“I’m fired up. I’m trying to make top 5-ish in the YETI Downriver Sprint, but the goal in the SUP cross is to be on the podium,” Miles said. “SUP cross racing is my favorite for sure. I like the skill involved in it, and the fact that it can be anyone’s game to win or lose. You can have all the best paddlers in one heat, and any one of them can all blow it at any time.”
Or, as in Harvey’s case, anyone can blow up at any time. The consensus is that the kid has grown up, and he’s ready to knock it out of the park.
by Scott Willoughby
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