Dominique, a keen wildwater kayaker, is also a sales assistant at the Decathlon Pau store and the kayaking trainer for all the stores in his region. He had the pleasure of welcoming the Itiwit kayak design team to his neck of the woods to test the brand new inflatable X500 touring kayak in the extreme conditions of the Pau-Pyrénées Whitewater Stadium, home to major international slalom competitions and the French national training centre. He is going to tell us about this out-of-the-ordinary test.



I have been downriver racing on France's most beautiful rivers for 30 years now. So when I saw the X500 kayak, all I wanted to do was test it on the river. I knew that was not what it was designed for but I was itching to have a go anyway.

Then came the day the Itiwit team came to Pau in the spring for a meeting. So I suggested we do a few runs of the whitewater stadium and for them to take advantage of this opportunity to bring along an X500 kayak.

I was finally going to be able to test it. With a flow of 12m³/s over the course, it's perfect because this a water level I am very familiar with (the maximum for competitions is 15m³/s).

A few minutes of getting to grips with it in the start bay and I'm off!


The first turn goes smoothly, followed by three nice waves one after the other. The boat stays on the surface well, allowing me to get it into position for the next bend.

Time for the slide, it accelerates nicely then glides as it should in the channel of water between the breaking wave and the big boulder on the right.

Then I get to the two ledges, the boat makes it through the holes really well. And to finish the sequence, the dreaded "kraken"; the spraydeck stays in place despite the stress it is under.

One last section to get to the finish, then I head straight for the conveyor to go back to the start!!!

This first run strengthens my beliefs. The boat does indeed react like a wildwater boat. I have only one thing on my mind: take the conveyor to start again as soon as possible.