The Gabas Paddle Race took place last week-end in Lourenties, near Pau in France. With the participation of Florent Dode and two top Spanish riders, the second edition of the race appeared to take a strong international outlook. Here is our report on this fun and entertaining race which is gaining momentum as a season opener in Europe.
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The conditions for last week-end’s 2016 Gabas Paddle Race – which is now included in the “Championnat D’Aquitaine” (South West of France Circuit) – could not have been better: blue sky, mind-blowing view on the Pyrenees and glassy waters. Nothing to do with last year’s dreadful weather conditions: it pretty much rained the whole day with a 40 km/hour sidewind and 30 cm waves.
In these ideal conditions for both spectators and riders, the 12 km race started at 11 a.m. Right from the start, Spanish rider from Starboard Roman Frejo took the lead followed closely by Florent Dode on new and fast-growing custom brand 3 Bay Paddle and Loris Minvielle. Florent didn’t stay behind for long though as he took over the Spaniard 1.5 km into the race. However, Florent Dode was never really able to widen the gap, despite some powerful strokes, with the 2014 Spanish champion who finished the race just 4 seconds behind him. Closing the podium, Loris Minvielle never managed to come back on the leading duo. The top 3 finishing times are:
- Florent Dode 1:18:21
- Frejo Roman 1:18:25
- Loris Minvielle 1:20:07
It has to be noted that local SUP racer Nicolas Fayol, who happens to be also the founding member of the organizing club i.e. the Pau Pyrénées Club, had to abandon the race in the middle of it, in order to place a deriving buoy back to where it was so everyone could respect the initial route. Who said sportsmanship was dead?
In the Women’s, Spain was also well represented with the young and promising Spanish rider Cyara Pelenzuela-Navascues who easily took the lead finishing the race with a time of 1:33, Pauline Junquet came second and Clarrise Labussiere from the Pau Pyrénées Club arrived third and was crowned Aquitaine champion on her first long distance participation of the Gabas Paddle Race!
Among the under 18 competitors, Alexandre Bicrel finished the race in 1h23 closely followed by Tom Villedary and Loïs Chardebas. In the overall leaderboard they respectively take the 6th 7th and 8th places. The grown-ups will have to be keep an eye on this rising youth even though Bertrand Baechler, former canoe champion, managed to contain all three of them with a remarkable 5th place obtained after 1h22 of efforts.
At lunch Time, riders and organizing staff gathered to have a big picnic. A friendly moment that everyone enjoyed – even more so given the perfect weather of the day!
An Australian Style Race took place in the afternoon around a 200m straight line between two sets of buoys. A very fun concept with everyone starting rounds of sprints at the same time and the last 5 riders being eliminated. Spanish Rider, Roman Frejo, shined in this fast-paced race as he achieved first place followed by Loris Minvielle, Alexandre Bicrel , Nicolas Fayol and Fred Gerard.
Worth noting: the strong performance of the young Spanish rider Cyara Palenzuela-Navascues who finished 8th.
Ranking of the Championnat D’Aquitaine:
Open Divsion: 1. Florent Dode (Vieux-Boucau Surf Club) 2. Loris Minvielle (Pau Pyrénées SUP) 3. Olivier Darrieumerlou (Lou Surfou Seignosse)
Women Division : 1. Clarisse Labussière (Pau Pyrénées SUP) 2. Angèle Charpentier (Pau Pyrénées SUP) 3. Alexandra Calvez (Pau Pyrénées SUP)
200m Australian Style Race:
Long Distance Race: