MARTINE AT NAUTIC PADDLE 2019

photo AFP

"Despite living inland in Lille, I love the water and I take every opportunity to be in it or on it! At first, paddleboarding was a good alternative for me: to be able to go out onto the water easily, I opted for a basic inflatable paddleboard (3 years ago) to see if it was right for me. Being very convenient to transport and great for discovering places (like lakes, rivers and coves), I took it everywhere with me just in case To Marseille, Münich and Brittany, and even when staying on board sailing boats in the Caribbean and Croatia.
Up until now, paddleboarding had been a hobby for me. However, the Nautic Paddle caught my attention and I thought, "I have got to take part one day." .The drawing of lots had ruled this out ... until this year! Paddling on the Seine at the Nautic event was a dream for me... 
But it is still nicer to train as a team. I discovered that a group had formed in Lille: the "Grand 8". So I was able to practise with them, try out a faster, more technical paddleboard, and gain reassurance and motivation!"

 

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1. Easy travel with an inflatable paddleboard!

Everything was planned: Lille to Paris by TGV. With my transport cover, I had already tried out some trips, and my inflatable paddleboard has been with me everywhere. 11 kg and somewhere to store the paddleboard, pump and even a bit more...
But strikes meant a change of plan - taking the train to Paris was no longer an option.. But Lille to Paris by car is perfectly feasible! I had my paddleboard (12'6 x 29") packed in the boot, and enough space to add my foldable bike to get around Paris together with my personal belongings. 
Surprisingly, the journey to the boat show was without any problems, and by midday I was there!

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2. Perfectly organised

Having confirmed my registration and collected my lycra, the stickers for the board, the bags, and the transponder, I'm now ready to inflate my paddleboard and put it in a truck. 
I then slip my leash, fin and pump into the transport bag and head to the hotel I've chosen near the starting point. By 6pm, I'm at the briefing, having gone there by bike.
Impressive! 1000 people
Everything is clear: the course, safety instructions, starting procedure and... the weather (fair, but a head-on SW wind, with gusts and rain...). We'll see!
I aim to :I aim to be at the Eiffel Tower by 9.15am to avoid disqualification.
 

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3. A calm start...

I set off with a relaxed mindset, and there's a great atmosphere. On the water are a lot of Itiwit paddles like mine. 
I decide to start off calmly.. People have said a lot of things.. "You'll see, the start is tough, you get jostled about and it’s dark.. Under the bridges, kneel down: with the currents, your board ends up sideways and so on..."
Well.. Looks like we're away? Let's go! I get going.. Standing up.. And from that point on, it’s MAGICAL
!!! My paddleboard is stable and glides well. I take advantage of every moment and count my luck: passing under the bridges of Paris, past magnificent landmarks .. What an experience
! Especially since those next to me are all dressed as Star Wars characters (8 on a giant paddleboard) with music that sounds great when you're going past Notre Dame
! I am (a little) thirsty, and I feel like taking some pictures. My bottle and camera are in an Itiwit waterproof bag on the front of the board. But I'm getting into it: no question of stopping and falling behind!!!

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4. All out to the end!

The Eiffel Tower already? I feel like I've only just set off.. Not much further to the finish line. I decide to go all out - I still have the energy! I overtake other competitors, feeling great on my board. I can see the finish line: 1h29’52’’… Come on!!! Less than 1h30? Well, 1h30’28’’.. There are still a lot of people behind me.. It's already over!!!
Those supporting me are surprised - I've reached the end well before them!
In the meantime, I retrieve my cover, and deflate and put away my paddleboard in less than 10 minutes!
It’s then that I realise it's been raining.. Sheltered under my cap and giving it all I have, I hadn’t realised.
Being well-equipped for the race (Neoprene long johns, lycra, jacket and boots - also made from Neoprene - not to mention THE cap), I realise I’m a bit wet, so I quickly change because I’m starting to get a bit cold..
A hot drink, some dried figs and I'm ready to visit the Boat Show!
The result: 251st, and the 35th woman!
Overjoyed for this 1st event and.. bring on the next one!!!
Thanks to ITIWIT for lending the equipment - I think I will buy the 12'6x29.
And thanks also to the "Grand 8" from Lille, who helped me to feel less alone and train with a really nice group!

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