ALEXANDRE AND PASCALE: THEIR STAND-UP PADDLE STORY

Do you want to learn more about stand-up paddle boarding? Read stories and tips from Pascale and Alexandre, avid paddlers and ITIWIT ambassadors.

ALEXANDRE AND PASCALE: THEIR STAND-UP PADDLE STORY

Pascale is a department manager at Decathlon's Anglet store in France. Alexandre is store operations manager at Decathlon Calais. Both have different experiences and paddling styles, both have different memories. We went to meet them to share their expertise and advice with you.

PADDLE EMOTIONS

To start off the interview, we asked Alexandre and Pascale to share a specific paddle boarding memory with us. Between SUP surf trips and the Dordogne Intégrale, one thing's for sure: our ambassadors are not afraid of anything! 

ALEXANDRE: THE DORDOGNE AT HIS FEET

Last April, I took part in the Dordogne Intégrale. 350 kilometres from Argentat to Blaye on a stand-up paddle board, three days of an exhilarating combination of thrills, heart-in-mouth moments, excitement, adrenaline and endorphins. Here is one of the highlights that I experienced during the race...

Day two is looking intense. I now know that I am in a good position but I also know that we are going to be hitting the tidal bore head on. I am still not fully awake when I set off at 6 o'clock in the morning, but little by little I find my pace. I manage to overtake a few competitors with whom I share sections of the course.

A little before Cubzac, the thing we are all dreading is heading straight for me: the tidal bore! So much power; it's almost impossible to paddle against the current so I wisely decide to join the other competitors on the bank. There are four of us and there is a spot on the podium to play for. We chat and eventually I decide to set off against the current by sticking close to the banks.

I'm pretty much going in blind and trusting the nose of my board to deflect all the branches coming straight at me. It is handy having an inflatable SUP with a semi-rigid nose; I don't have to worry about breaking it! I keep moving slowly but surely. I try to stick to the sides, that should do it, I'm going to make it to Cubzac.

I get to Cubzac at 19:45, I could still paddle for another hour and a quarter and I know that the competition is hot on my heels. I decide to carry on a little longer so as not to lose my lead.

Around 8.30 p.m., I get to Port de Plagne where I stop for the night. My dad tells me that I am now in third place and that I am about 30 minutes ahead of number 4. I've got 25 kilometres to go, I do the maths, that sounds doable…

I finally finish the race in third place, in a time of 34:30, happy and proud!

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PASCALE: STAND-UP PADDLE SURF TRIP

I have been stand-up paddle boarding for 7 years, I train at a club in Hossegor. Although I liked the sound of it, I had never had the courage to give stand-up paddle surfing a go. I was scared of injuring myself, scared of not being any good, a bit scared of everything in fact.

Until the day when some of my colleagues got into it—including Françoise, who is now 69 years old!—and have since all become "hooked." So the four of us decided to go to on a SUP surf course in Morocco in early March. Or rather, they convinced to go with them despite my complete lack of skills in this discipline! Rising to the challenge, I invested in an inflatable surf SUP.

I caught my first waves the day after we arrived, at a perfect SUP spot in Aourir, between Agadir and Taghazout. I also spent a lot of time under the water! Physically, it was pretty tough. I discovered muscles I didn’t know I had. My shoulders were killing me despite the fact that I do a lot of SUP touring. In fact, I realised that you paddle just as much when SUP surfing, only much harder so that you can catch the wave.

There is one day in particular I remember when we couldn't see the waves through the fog. We couldn't make them out until they were on top of us. The waves were catching us rather than the other way around! And when all of a sudden, the sun broke through, the sets were nearly 1.5 metres high, which is like a mountain to me! That day, I still managed to take off on a great wave, I was chuffed to bits!

I had a great week with the girls, nobody was judging anybody else, we were all there to have a good time, and we had a good laugh in the water every time one of us took a tumble. In saying that, I think I won the prize for the best wipe-out!

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ALEXANDRE'S TIPS

"First of all, I would say: go out on flat water to be able to feel the benefits of the sport before you hit the beach. It is important to master the technique before you tackle more choppy water. Heading straight for instability, current and wind would result in more wipe-outs and could put you off altogether. I also recommend buying an inflatable board, they are really practical and their technical features are more than sufficient!"

PREPARATION FOR A STAND-UP PADDLE SESSION

ALEXANDRE: When you paddle a lot like I do, training becomes a habit and part of your week. My reflex before going to train is to always check the weather. I choose where I am going to go according to the wind, the current and the tide. I go on rivers when there is little wind, and when it picks up, on the sea at high tide.

PASCALE: Personally, I mostly do stand-up paddle touring, so I do general fitness training by alternating my SUP sessions with swimming and power walking. Besides that, I also do pilates to strengthen my core muscles. In terms of warming up my muscles before a session, I mainly focus on a shoulder warm-up. Then I grab a snack, water and a suitable outfit to go touring. As for my outfit, I have a wetsuit and according to the temperature I add a pair of Olaian booties and, of course, a lightweight paddle (Itiwit carbon 900).

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THE BENEFITS OF STAND-UP PADDLE BOARDING

ALEXANDRE: There are a few! In store, we are stuck indoors most of the time and always rushing around. Doing an outdoor sport, surrounded by nature, really helps me to disconnect. And also, I love the feeling of gliding across the water while discovering the environment in a new light. Last but not least, it's a full-body workout so it keeps you in shape.

PASCALE: This sport gives me a huge physical and mental boost. Being on the water clears my head and keeps me fit. It also gives me a chance to spend time with friends and share good times on the water. I regularly introduce beginners to the sport, who become hooked almost immediately!

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PASCALE'S TIPS

"I would say that to get off on the right foot, you need to be coached by an intermediate paddler or take lessons at a club, so that you get into good habits straight away! Then, in my opinion, you need to start with a wide and stable SUP (Itiwit X100 11')."

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ALEXANDRE AND PASCALE: THEIR STAND-UP PADDLE STORY

JUSTINE

Sport Advice Communication Team

Born swimmer and former regional cycling champion (OK, so I was only 10).

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