This event offers 2 courses options for riders to choose from:
Early this morning (around 8am), riders got onto the water and await the starters orders. The race started at the break of dawn as soon as there was enough light and the 700 riders set off from the French National Library in the heart of Paris. Conditions on the day meant the race was even more challenging for riders being slightly overcast with a very brisk -1°C.
“I don’t think I can feel my feet anymore, but it’s a been super fun 12 hours in Paris – I got to hang out with some awesome people and paddle an awesome river” ~ Shilpika Gautam | The Ganges SUP
This exceptional course (which is only accessible once a year during this event) allowed competitors pass under the most beautiful Parisian bridges, paddling from Bercy to the Port of “Javel Bas”. Along the way, paddlers got to enjoy some of Paris’ most iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the famous Notre Dame Cathedral from a somewhat different perspective!
“That was good fun. What an adventure! I took about 800 selfies at the Eiffel Tower” ~ Chris Parker | SUP Racer
The Race Directors boat started mid way through the pack which meant we missed the start of the Elite racers. By the time the boat caught up about 3km into the 14km Elite race there was a strong front bunch with last years winner Bruno Hasulyo setting a high tempo early on and stretching the train out from the front on his 12’6″ x 23 Sprint. Also at the front of the lead pack was Casper Steinfath in 2nd, Frenchman Arthur Arukin in 3rd and Starboard Dream Rider Leo Nika in 4th (2013 Edition Winner).
Here’s what Leo had to say;
“My start was perfect, just right in the lead for 3km and after we turned the Saint-Louis Island we had a very strong current going against us, like 8/9 Km per hour and I was still in good position just before heading back with the current in favor. At the 8km mark I dropped a few positions – maybe because I pushed too much in the beginning – but some low sugar hit me in that moment and making me feel tired and was like hitting the wall.”
But the Italian powerhouse didn’t give up, and dug even deeper;
“I now needed to figure something out as soon as possible for the rest of the race and soon enough I was back to strength and trying to catch with the front pack. Unfortunately most of the race was done and catching the front pack was almost impossible after the Eiffel Tower. With 1km left I did my last sprint to keep my 6th position but the 2 guys that were drafting me for while passed me on either side with just 50m to go to the finish line.”
In the end Leo finished 8th overall but was in great spirits having enjoyed this amazing race;
“In the end was an incredible challenge which makes me even hungrier for a victory in the upcoming events! I’m ready to keep myself positive and I need to work better on my preparation and go back in the race arena!”
Just after the 1hr mark, Casper Steinfath put in big surge to try and unsettle the pack, but the the race leaders remained together and continued to jostle positions at the front for a while longer. With the Eiffel Towner just coming into sight, it meant that the race was nearing the end. With about 3km to go it was Dream Team rider Bruno Hasulyo who then attacked on the right-hand outside line, looking to make a break with the finish line in virtual sight. It wasn’t enough to shake Casper and Arthur and the leading group of 3 riders remained intact as they entered the final kilometre home stretch.
As the race leaders neared the finish, they passed by the breathtaking Eiffel Tower and managed to get a glimpse as it soared above them and disappeared into the clouds. Unfortunately there was no time for the Elite Racers to stop and take selfies, the pace was still hotting up (and outside air temperature had also now warmed up to a mild 6°C) in the front pack as the 3 leaders started picking their way through the seemingly endless field of pink-vested Open Class riders.
Looking calm & collected, it was Bruno that lead out the tight lead pack of 3 (still Bruno, Arthur & Casper – in that order) into the final 500m. Casper faded in the dying metres to fall behind a few board lengths. Bruno surged again on the right hand side, finding the smallest of gaps through the tight Open Class paddlers with Arthur taking a more ‘centred’ line to the yellow finishing arches.
Arthur surged one final time on the final 15m to close the small advantage Bruno had over him to cross the line in a tight “photo finish”. Unfortunately the race directors decision favoured the Frenchman over the 2016 winner and Bruno had to settle for a disappointing 2nd place finish.