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Nautic paddle sup race on the Seine in Paris with Frédérique

Frédérique, a 50-year-old stand-up paddleboarder from Montpellier, traveled to Paris for the Nautic Paddle 2018 race on the Seine.

Nautic paddle sup race

"My partner François and I were happy to have been selected in the Amateur category draw for the Nautic Paddle 2018 race, and so the adventure began for us. We will have the chance to SUP the Seine in Paris as part of the biggest SUP race in the world (800 participants).

The only problem is that I paddle a rigid board and we want to travel to the capital by train. So we were faced with a bit of a logistical issue. I decided to contact Decathlon's Itiwit brand, based in Hendaye, to ask them if they would lend me an inflatable SUP for the race. In fact, my partner François had recently got an Itiwit Explo 12'6x29 and seemed very happy with it. Itiwit offered to let me use an Explo 12'6x26 inflatable in return for my account of our adventures. Deal!

We began our training on the Mediterranean coast, between Carnon and La Grande Motte, often in brilliant sunshine with calm seas, but sometimes in rain with a headwind!

As for our outfits, we followed the advice of Grégoire, a designer at Itiwit who had already completed the Nautic race twice and shared his tips on the Itiwit blog. We choose the Wed’ze windproof longjohn and long-sleeved T-shirt with surf boots and fingerless gloves for me, and the same for François.

"

The journey to the Nautic Paris Boat Show

We took a TGV on the Saturday morning, with our backpacks fully loaded because in addition to the SUPs they held our (small number of) personal belongings. The sun was shining, we were in good spirits and full of enthusiasm; we were ready to go! It was easy to stow away the SUPs on the train, but once we reached the metro, it was a different story: we were diverted because of the gilets jaunes protests and forced to walk a long way, so we were really feeling the weight of the bags. Some little wheels would have been very welcome to take the weight off our aching shoulders…

Once we got to the Nautic Paris Boat Show, we picked up our bibs (which just so happened to be yellow!) and timing wristbands, and prepared our equipment: inflating and loading the SUPs into the vans, followed by a race briefing. I could feel my stress levels rising: there was a lot of information and lots of navigation instructions to take on board. Added to the fear of falling in the water, as it was freezing cold!!! On top of that, the weather conditions were looking difficult, headwinds of 15 to 25 knots, and maybe even some rain, great... And there was some uncertainty as to whether the race would even be able to start on time given the recent events in Paris, with the green light needed from the authorities.

nautic paddle race SUP

Race day: from unsure to ecstatic!

05:45 alarm, waking up from a poor night's sleep with a bad back. I'm in pain and wondering whether I even want to go ahead with the race... So François offers to follow me for the whole race, given that it is timed and competitors must pass under a bridge by 09:30, with any latecomers being disqualified.

Once I have made my mind up, I jump out of bed and we get our SUP gear on and head to the metro, after a quick coffee en route. Public transport seemed like the best option as it gave us longer in bed, as opposed to the shuttle put on by the organisers where we would have to go back to Porte de Versailles for 05:30 only to then drive back across Paris. We were a bit stressed by the time we got off at Bibliothèque François Mitterrand metro station: we were running late. Which way to the Seine??? But we manage to find the team on time.

What an atmosphere... Everything seems to step up a notch: the 800 SUPs had been dropped off, and now we had to find ours under the floodlights. Once all the fins and leashes were installed, we were all gradually launched. All of the SUPs together was quite a sight to behold, with some competing as a team and/or in fancy dress! We had to stay under pont de Tolbiac until the start of the race. The water was pretty calm and I manage to not drift away, with coach François always nearby.

And we're off!

I have to paddle hard to stop the headwind from holding me back, and several times I have to get on my knees to be able to propel myself forward. Even taking a few tumbles into the water is not enough to knock my concentration and I continue my race, being cheered on by onlookers standing on the bridges. It's really encouraging to hear them! I find myself in trouble under a bridge on two occasions. With the channelled water and the various eddies, my SUP ended up facing the wrong way. I'm stressing out, I'm wasting time and not sure I have the strength to get myself back on track. Oh yes you can! Off I go again, always with my faithful sidekick to support me. My thighs have seized up and the home stretch is painful... I remember to stand up at the last minute to cross the finish line with the clock showing 01:41. I did it!!!! I'M SO HAPPY

 

stand up paddle race paris

At the finish line there were hot drinks, family and friends waiting for us

This is the best part, everything went well, I conquered my fears and even achieved a good time. I'm glad to have shared this experience with François and the others. We chat about our misfortunes, our difficulties. We are so happy and we didn't get cold!

We quickly get changed and then get on the bus back to the Nautic Paris Boat Show for a bit of socialising with a brunch laid on by the organisers.

The results were published online the following Wednesday: I came 37th out of 220 in the "AMATEUR Women Scratch" category, and François 201st in his category. Considering it was our first time, I call that a great success. Thank you Itiwit :-)"

Frédérique

nautic paddle SUP race

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