geoffrey tawara

Geoffrey at the 2021 tawara water race

In June, Geoffrey took on the challenge of taking part in the Tawara Water Race. An extraordinary experience, an emotional adventure, and endless memories. He tells us about his journey!

A few months ago Geoffrey took on the challenge of taking part in the Tawara Water Race, an international canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding competition which is accessible and open to all. He even convinced his colleagues, Mathieu and Xavier, to join him for the adventure. 
So, I was able to interview Geoffrey about this challenge, and boy, does it make you want to give it a go!

The tawara water race, what is it?

"The Tawara is an international stand-up paddle and kayaking race. It’s a long-distance race covering 78 km through the Tarn Gorges, which are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. An adventure in this incredible and magnificent location, including a passage under the Millau Viaduct. However, it’s much more than just a race, it’s an emotional adventure and a personal challenge, at its source."

Your equipment

"There’s the equipment that you carry with you and the equipment that you prepare for the race, which is equally as important. 

Over 80 km, you’re in for 10 hours of racing. So, you’re going to need to think about hydration, snacks, and as for the equipment, we opted to go more “lightweight” and “minimalist”, so we chose a racing board, the Itiwit Race 500 in14x25.
Paired with this, I had the prototype for the 900 Pro paddle, co-developed with Olivia Piana, a hydration belt, a trail kit, extremely lightweight, because the forecast was showing a temperature of 30 °C.
During the race, we also had to wear helmets, as we were on class 2 or even class 3 rivers.
On our board, we also had a 5 L bag in which we'd packed some water, a quick repair kit in case of any punctures, duct tape, a first aid kit, sun cream and some small snacks.
A little tip to remember: Make sure you think about taking multiple fins, so that you can change them in shallow water or in the event of breakage."

Your training

"To begin with, this race was a personal challenge and then when my colleagues decided to join in with me, we trained by starting with one trip out per week covering between 15 and 20 km, either on flat waters or, when we could, we tried to take on small rivers to get used to the race environment. Alongside that, we also did a lot of cycling to work on our endurance, because a good paddle stroke is important, but keeping up stamina over 10 hours is a whole other challenge!
We also trained with our boards, the helmet and hydration belt, so that we’d develop the reflex of keeping hydrated and fuelled throughout the race."

How was your race experience?

"The main reason I signed up for this race was because I wanted a personal challenge. I hadn’t raced in over two years, since the Dordogne Intégrale, and I wanted to set myself a new challenge with a long-distance race. 
A personal challenge that took on a whole new level as soon as I put on my number! The racing mentality takes over, and you want to give it your best and your all. 
Once you’re at the starting line, 3, 2, 1 and you’re off! I pretty quickly forgot there was still 80 km to go and the physical pain kicked in quickly... after the 20th kilometre, I had already started to get blisters on my hands, not to mention pain.

Go figure that just as it started to get pretty difficult on a physical and mental level, we met some great people (lol)! 
I’d particularly like to shout out Laurent, as we were both really suffering physically and we started talking as we ploughed on together. It helped take our mind off the pain and find our second wind for the final section of the race, and to get our head back in the game so we could give it our all right up to the very end.
A race with great people, and an emotional adventure - you might be alone on your board, but thanks to the participants, the staff and the great organisation, it really is an unforgettable adventure!"

But what if it does happen?

"But what if it does happen? Of course, I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
I’m definitely doing this race again next year!
It takes a lot of work from the staff to organise such an incredible race over 80 km, they deserve a medal and I’d really encourage everyone to come and discover this magical landscape.
The incredible views were constant!
If I had to alter or adapt anything about my experience, it definitely wouldn’t be my equipment. My board was perfect, although I would set off with a soft fin instead of a rigid fin, as I did get a bit of scare during one or two sections, where the fin was getting battered and I was worried about damaging my SUP.
As for my training, I’d maybe try to go on some class 2 or 3 rivers to get used to the conditions a little more for the Tawara Water Race."

A closing word

"It may be an internationally renowned long-distance race, but it’s also accessible for everyone. The race has two different formats, 18 km or 80 km, which means everyone can discover the same landscape in a more or less condensed time.
You can also share the 80 km with teammates, and compete as in relays.
So, in my opinion, it’s really a race that’s accessible for everyone.
It shouldn’t be seen as an elitist race, as everyone can take part either on their SUP or in their kayak."

Geoffrey’s experience

Geoffrey tells us all about his Tawara Water Race
Geoffrey tells us all about his Tawara Water Race
Geoffrey tells us all about his Tawara Water Race
Tawara Water Race
Tawara Water Race
Tawara Water Race
Tawara Water Race
Tawara Water Race


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