#5 Day three, nicolas makes it to the finish line, baptiste still has one more day to go
I give myself a "lie-in" until 7:30 because the current of the tide is working against me. I get on the water at 9:45 knowing that I will have to paddle for a good hour against the current. My boat, which is very easy to handle, lets me take the best line to counter the current, just a few centimetres from the bank, leaving me just enough space to "plant" my paddle in the water. I have to really concentrate to slalom between the branches and various obstacles in the river. I'm not worried though because I know that the Drop stitch construction of my inflatable kayak is very tough. I'm paddling at a serious pace since I'm neck and neck with some surf ski kayaks, which are built for racing; my opponents can't believe it, amazed by the performance of my inflatable boat. I feel the tide change and I am now paddling in the middle of the Dordogne, several hundred metres wide, riding the falling tide. I reach Libourne. Élodie, who is waiting for me on the very steep left bank, cannot hand me my supplies. She eventually decides to throw them to me—mission accomplished! My GPS watch is out of memory and leaves me high and dry. I am now without any tracking data. I will have to navigate by sight.I paddle really fast, with the help of the current that pushes me to a crazy speed, zipping through the landscape. Without the information from my watch, I am unable to identify my location and, as a result, Élodie's next supply point. Time passes, ticking by. I decide to land but it takes me a while to find a suitable spot. I thought I had paddled about twenty kilometres since Libourne. I take out my phone to set a GPS point and, to my great surprise, find I have travelled twice as far: I am in Cavernes at km 318! For the last 30 kilometres, I am blinded by the sun in my eyes. The Dordogne is so wide that it is difficult to aim for a point on the horizon. The current is slowing down and I can feel that my boat is now much slower. The organisers pull up beside me in a powerful motorboat. The captain tells me the tide will be turning in half an hour. I keep paddling hard but it is not enough to counter the rising tide. My speed is now very low. I am fighting against an extremely powerful current. I'm not going anywhere, I am trapped by force of the water and I can't even make out the rest of the course as in my way is a huge jetty where a large boat is moored that does estuary crossings. I consider, for a very short moment, stopping where I am. I didn't know it yet but the next few metres would be my last before the finish line, which was just behind. I hear cheers, whistles, shouts, and "bravo Nico"! It's over, it's around 5 p.m. and I have just crossed the finish line of the DI 350.I get out and am immediately congratulated by my wife and the Itiwit teams. I am handed a beer that goes down a treat, before being interrupted to take a souvenir photo with the team. I am delighted and very proud of what I have just achieved.
The alarm clock sounds, telling me it's time to do it all again: breakfast, strap up my fingers and wrist, get my equipment ready along with everything else I need for the day and then get on the water. I have "only" 100 kilometres before the finish line, and that's more or less what I had planned. 100 km in a day is totally doable but I will have to factor in the tides and the bore. I pass Castillon-la-Bataille very early in the morning but many have already left. A few of us follow one another for several kilometres until the rising tide catches up with us. The physical and mental fight begins and will last more than an hour before we get out of the water to stop the boat from going backwards. Around ten of us get out at the same place because the current keeps getting stronger and stronger. My wrist is really hurting, the tide won't have helped things but the current is dying down, it's time to leave. I set off full throttle, it's the last day so I give it my all. The landscapes are different once again: castles, mansions, fishermen's houses, etc., but it becomes almost impossible to get out of the water with the effect of the tides. It's just as well that the landscapes are so beautiful, it helps to ease the pain, monotony and solitude. It is now 5 p.m., I have been following a two-person SUP for an hour and I meet up with my assistants. I'm not feeling too bad, there's 35 km to go but the tide is up to its usual tricks and the bore is fast approaching, so everyone gets out of the water. I'm not too sure what to do, but for safety reasons, I get out too. That marks the end of the day for me, I will not finish the race today. I am both disappointed not to finish on the 3rd day but also happy to be able to enjoy my trip, have a laugh, rest so that I can recover better… It will be a really relaxing evening, this time. Only 35 km to go—child's play!