2019 GLAGLA RACE ON LAKE ANNECY WITH AN ITIWIT 12'6x26 INFLATABLE STAND-UP PADDLE BOARD

The GlaGla Race, one of the biggest stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) competitions there is, takes place in the heart of winter on Lake Annecy, with the snowy Alps providing the backdrop. This race has even become a cornerstone stage of the worldwide "Paddle League" and the Alpine Lakes Tour (stand-up paddle boarding championship in the Alps). The GlaGla Race, the only race of its kind, is one that all SUP enthusiasts need to try at least once in their lives, whatever their level!
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Preparing the equipment

In winter, Lake Annecy offers great conditions for stand-up paddle boarding during the absence of sailing activity. And when the weather is clement, the lake is a real water mirror!  
I chose the Itiwit 12'6 x 26 stand-up paddle board because it's the narrowest in the 500 Trekking/Racing range, which makes it the fastest. With its excellent return, it is ideal on this type of body of water. The fact that it's inflatable is a significant advantage : you can pop it in your backpack! It's ideal for transportation and for making your way to the spot. And because I wanted to save energy before the race, I used the Itiwit electric pump that you can plug into your car's cigarette lighter socket. Unfortunately, it only goes up to 15 PSI, so I had to finish with a manual pump to reach the recommended 17 PSI. As for the paddle, there's no doubt about it. The Itiwit 900 carbon paddle was made for racing. Its spoon-shaped blade offers a lot of power. It is ultra lightweight at only 540 grams, so it's perfect for frequent paddling which means you can go even faster.   For hydration, the Olaian surfing water bag is ideal. It won't hinder your paddling movements in any way, and you won't even notice it thanks to its slimline shape.
 

What to wear for the GlaGla Race

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It can be chilly at the beginning of January on the lake's edge, with temperatures often dropping below zero. And the water is only 4°c!
I chose to stick to the same equipment I used in training this season: my Olaian 3 mm neoprene surfing suit.
The Olaian 3 mm aquashoes were sufficient to keep my feet warm; and they also give you a good feeling on the board.
Personally, I don't wear gloves as my hands warm up very quickly when I paddle. 650 paddlers from around 20 countries were there to brave the 2°C morning temperatures and to enjoy the privilege of paddling through the transparent water in glorious sunshine. 
The magic of this race lies in the fact that the top worldwide professionals and amateurs can come together, as it is many participants' first competition. Some are there purely for the competition, but others are there for the personal challenge, or to enjoy the beautiful landscapes. Each person has their own particular motivation, but everyone is brought together by the shared passion for freestyle paddling and respect for the natural surroundings in which they practise their sport.
 

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Let's go!

In the pop-up village, there's a relaxed atmosphere with people warming up, testing out equipment, a sauna, and background music. All the participants chat and share stories: it's one big family with ages ranging from 9 to 65. I was reunited with several competitors I meet at various stages of the Alpine Lake Tour, including Antoine from the Decathlon Ecully store who was also using the Itiwit (12'6x29) inflatable paddle board. After the briefing and the safety instructions, it's time to get into the water. The 650 participants had to line up on the starting line, which is 400 m wide. The race was about to start! You could cut the tension with a knife, and then, at 10:30, the horn heralded the start of the race!   In little to no time, I got to the first buoy marking a turning point, where there was a real pile-up. I could hear the hard boards banging against one another. I was really glad to have an inflatable paddle board, which, in this kind of "contact" situation, isn't affected by impacts. Several participants fell into the water. The pack started to disperse, groups formed and I positioned myself behind one of them so that I could draft (use the draft created by the board in front to save energy), and therefore keep up a good speed until the last turning point. I decided to break away to finish alone in front, but behind me, the little group hadn't given up and tried to catch me up. I started paddling hard, and sprinted towards the finishing line! I passed the final buoy just behind Antoine. Both of us earned a place on the podium in the "inflatable" category. What a result! .

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Both on the podium

After the race, smiles and jubilation were in order, as we were both really pleased to have reached our goals! The GlaGla Race is most definitely a unique event thanks both to its exceptional setting and the participants' passion! 

So, ready for the next edition of the GlaGla Race, on 18 January 2020?"

VINCENT
Decathlon Dieppe store

 

"This was my second GlaGla Race. I was using an Itiwit inflatable 12.6 x 29" paddle board and the adjustable 500 carbon paddle. The advantage of using this board for races such as the GlaGla race is that it boasts incredible stability. I inflated it to 18 PSI instead of 17 for better buoyancy. I think everyone should try the GlaGla race at least once in their life, as it's the ultimate race, in which just the slightest second of inattention can cause you to fall off and abandon the race because of the extreme temperatures, the water being only 4 degrees. Year on year, this race inspires more and more passionate paddlers from all over the world; 17 different nationalities and 650 "suppers" for the 6th edition. A 500-metre wide starting line, huge fights at the buoy where you have to keep your wits about you if you don't want to fall in... It's a total blast!"

ANTOINE
Decathlon Ecully

 

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