At last, it's time for the big start of this third edition!
Here we are, gathered together in the city of Rennes on the banks of the Vilaine River. Once we inflate our paddles and strap on our waterproof bags, we are ready to attack our first kilometres.
Our progress is immediately slowed down by the first of the 11 locks that we have to pass through to reach La Roche-Bernard. Fortunately for us, the lock keeper allowed us to pass, enabling us to save both time and precious energy.
The following locks were not as easy to pass through, because paddleboards are not allowed for safety reasons. We had to go ashore, unload our paddleboards, and carry them across to the water. The manoeuvre is tedious, taking its toll on our strength from the start of the adventure.
The almost non-existent current, at close to 0.4 km/h according to a native of the area, did not help either. Each kilometre was completed with the strength of our arms. We began to realise that this journey would be nothing like the previous ones. In one of the worst passages of the Vilaine River: a channel that seems endless, in which algae clings to our paddles and fins.
Fortunately for our team, when we arrived at the third lock we met a local elected official on the bank who, after a few minutes of discussion, took it upon himself to help us. He then contacted all the lockkeepers, authorising them to allow us to pass through the locks despite the original ban on paddleboarders!
Fully invigorated, we set off again, finally enjoying the beauty of the locks, most of which still operate by the strength of the lockkeeper's arms.
The Bretons we met along the way were mostly surprised because, for the vast majority, it was the first time they had seen paddleboards on the Vilaine River. Encounters were made along the way. We continued to eat up the kilometres through an increasingly wild landscape. The winding stretches of the river followed one another, and the discussions were as lively as ever, despite the declining sun. After 7 hours of paddling, nearly 35 km completed, and 7 locks crossed, we finally decided to set up camp on the bank next to a cattle farm.
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