Last month, 2016 SUP World champion, Sonni Hönscheid, was in Tahiti for the Air France Paddle Festival. She had the pleasure of rediscovering SUP in Tahiti and with Tahitian riders. Meeting her former teammate, Georges Cronsteadt, and his family, the German rider had the opportunity to learn more about Tahitian culture. She won’t soon forget her trip.
Why did you choose to go to Tahiti and take part in the Air France Paddle Festival? Was it your first time there?
This year was my first time in Tahiti. I always wanted to go and I’m so happy I made it and took part in such a great event in a setting that seems like paradise!
What was your general impression of the overall level at the SUP race in Tahiti?
The SUP level was really high. I learned a lot from just being a spectator. It was great to watch other paddlers, such as Georges Cronsteadt, Manatea Bopp du Pont, Keoni Sulspice, to name but a few. You can really see that they have such a strong background in paddling purely from watching.
The Air France Paddle Festival was definitely one of the best organized races I have been to. It was all very professional, with great live coverage and two super excited commentators. Even on the beach there was a massive screen for spectators to follow the race.
The race location was truly ideal. It started with a strong updwinder, followed by a rewarding downwinder and a flatwater grind at the end. There was a little swell. I still have the image in my mind of a perfect wave breaking into the dry coral reef, with the green mountains in the background… It is without any shadow of a doubt a place I would like to go back to soon.
What was it like to be reunited with your former SIC teammate, Georges Cronsteadt, in his hometown?
Georges and I have crossed paths in so many different places around the world. Whenever he talked about Tahiti it always sounded like “Paradise”. When I got there and went to visit him and his Family for the first time in Mataeia I was blown away how beautiful the place is.
I told him “it’s like Paradise”, he just answered, “I told you so”. Georges and his family took us to their own private Island, and from there we went paddling, canoeing and sailing. “The flower crown queen”, Heilani, taught me to do my first flower crown. I had such a wonderful time there.
I have so many fond memories now! Driving around Tahiti with Repeta and Jerome Loisel, the race’s organizer, as well as Raimana van Bastolaer taking me on his jet-ski.
Wearing my first self-made flower crown, paddling with the Tahitian Starboard Crew through the crystal clear waters and hiking to the biggest waterfalls are some stand-out memories that I take home with me… But there are too many to speak of. I will definitely come back to wonderful Tahiti!