The 31st March will see the 1st ever 100% SUP Race on the Ardèche. Paddlers will paddle under the iconic Vallon Pont d’Accueil arch for the SUP’Air Ardèche . The race organised by the team behind the international kayak marathon Gorges de l’Ardèche will follow in giant footsteps. The race is the 1st of its kind is organised by Luis Brisson in conjunction with Vallon Plein Air Association, a strong and experienced events team who also organize the international kayak marathon in the Gorges de l’Ardèche. Passionate about paddling and the area Luis will be on hand to award the prizes and to crown the first champions of The SUP ‘Air Ardeche. Frenchman Luis talks to TotalSUP about the inaugural SUP event!
Hello Luis, can you introduce yourself to the readers? and the Vallon Plein Air association?
I am a qualified canoe – kayak instructor, and I enjoy most water based activities. My main role in the association is to coordinate events and projects of the club as well as the club life, as it is first a paddling school all year around with about 50 kids a week to learn all paddling disciplines (kayak canoe oc sup…). I am also involved in the training of paddlers such as Quentin Bonnetin the world champion in decent kayaking and Benoît Peschier the 2004 Olympic champion in kayak slalom. The Vallon Plein Air Association is also the organizer of the International Marathon of the Gorges de l’Ardèche, a legendary race created in 1985. This event goes back 30 years, each year it brings together amateurs for one of the biggest paddle marathons.
The Vallon Plein Air Association launched this 100% SUP event? Why SUP?
For the previous 30 years we have organised the International Marathon of the Gorges de l’Ardèche. We have an average of 1500 paddlers from 20 nations participating. So organizing a pure SUP event is a challenge. However, whitewater SUP is young and it is booming, this is a discipline that fascinates us. We want to allow to organised an event in this area that will allow paddlers to enjoy the sport. We are using our experience for the marathon to make this event an must-do event in the years to come!
What is the particularity of this event, the course and the conditions?
This course will follow the river and is 24 KM. The Ardèche is a real accessible river SUP, it does not involve any significant dangers or major difficulties. The route alternates between small rapids and large eddies! Paddlers will easily pass through the rapids and eddies, even if on their knees!
Everything is made for you! Here at this first edition of the SUP’Air Ardèche. Paddlers will start in Saint-Martin d’Ardèche under the beautiful Pont d’Arc. Paddlers will pass under the iconic natural arch and go onto discover the Nature Reserve of the Gorges de l’Ardèche. This 24 KM race will be in full spring bloom, it will surely be an immerse sight!
Can you explain the name Sup’Air?
The name Sup’Air Ardèche is simply a play on words (laughs). We used “Air” Vallon Plein Air, the name of our association. Yes it points to the use of only iSUPs, but in fact it is open to all types of SUP inflatable and rigid. The boards can be short, wide, long and narrow what ever the style, it is all accepted! Obviously if you race on a rigid board you need to pay attention on the rapids but having a rigid board may be an advantage in flat sections of the river. We will leave it up to the competitors to make their choice.
You are organizing 4 descents of the gorge before March 31, what is the purpose for this?
Yes, we will do 4 organised descents of the river each Sunday until the race on the 31st March. An offer open to the public. The purpose of these descents is to allow the participants to develop their river SUP technique. It will allow them to read river currents and to adopt the right attitude in the rapids. It is also an opportunity to learn the course, so to make strategic choices. But fundamentally it is to enjoy yourself!
How can we get to Vallon Pont d ‘Arc?
To get to Vallon Pont d’Arc: – By car it is 1 hour from the exit 18 on Montélimar sud- For the train Montélimar, Valence TGV and Avignon TGV are closest. Buses provide the link to Vallon Pont d’Arc. By plane the nearest airports are Montpellier / Marseille / Lyon and Clermont-Ferrand. For those coming from far it is possible to rent or test the boards at the race.
Any final word?
For the 1st edition we will have a cash prize for the first placed man and the first placed woman. The amount is not yet final. Are you ready to paddle?