Titouan Puyo celebrated his 30th birthday last year in style with a firework display of victories that made the whole SUP race planet vibrate, including a new world champion title won in Hungary and the Eurotour title. He finished his 2021 season exactly as he started, with an impressive win at the foot of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Nautic Paddle, and his 21st victory in 2021. While it is true that Titouan is often surprised commenting on the rise in power of younger paddlers, and in particular of his Neo-Caledonian protégés Noïc Garioud and Clément Colmas, the French champion was able to largely reassure himself about his everlasting dominance signing one of his best seasons since he started SUP racing in 2014. In all modesty and with a good dose of wittiness, the French national hero looks back on his 2021 SUP Race season, details his NSP quiver, and hints at some of his personal goals for 2022.
Hello Titouan Puyo, 2021 was one of your best seasons, if not THE best, what assessment do you make of it?
Yes I had a great year! With good results and a lot of victories but … yes, there is always a but!
There was less level density in the races, and in all fairness, I am one of the few international athletes to achieve a full season! So yes, good results but I think it’s important to take a step back and do a little analysis!
I won where I was not expected, in flat conditions like in Switzerland or Hungary! I did a lot of racing, around 20 events, but I did manage to follow a suitable and training schedule at the start of the year in New Caledonia and in the summer in Brittany!
I won a lot of events also because I took part in more “smaller” events in comparison to previous years when I had to be present at the big events which have been struggling since Covid!
So I took the opportunity to join some events that I have never had time to do before! Like the Alpine Paradise Race taking place on a mountain lake in Italy and other superb events, with good vibes and friendly people.
What will remain your best memory of 2021 and why?
I loved racing the Ardèche Marathon in November as it was a totally new experience for me to SUP race on a river with small rapids. I had all my mother-side family and relatives to support me there. It was fun having to manage both a typical battle with Bruno Hasulyo and the technical handling of each rapid! It is an alternation of flatwater sections and fun obstacles that make flatwater racing a little more fun! I hope I can go back next year or take part in other similar events. Two days before the race, I made a reco descent of the river with local purists who motivated me to try out bigger rapids! (2022 goal?)
What will be your worst 2021 memory then?
I started the ICF SUP Worlds by winning the long-distance race in Hungary, but then I had poorer results in the sprints and technical race! I would have liked to have better all-round results! Achieving one of my big goals at the very start of the 4-day event might have made me relax a little bit too much after that. I guess my brain told itsel that the competition was over when I still had two important races left where I would have liked to have performed better!
So I made a few mistakes afterwards that you are not allowed to make at such level, especially with Noïc Garioud who was on fire !!
I also got my line cut off in the 200m sprints final. As far as I am concerned, in this event, you have to go straight! And the rule book agrees with me by the way…
Having said that, my friend Travis Grant likes to repeat a phrase he got from his coach … “If you were good enough …”
At the end of the day, it’s up to me to avoid these situations!! And to train for a faster start!
I was also a little annoyed at the Carolina Cup where some SUP racers, in my opinion, did not follow the racecourse that was announced! But at the same time…”If you were good enough …”
There is another phrase that I like that we often say in the outrigger world: “Leave it … we will settle this on the water” hahaha (2022 goal?)
So you won a new individual world champion title on the Long Distance in Hungary, what place do you give to it among all your achievements?
I was happy to win because it was the race with the highest level this year. I was happy to win it because I was clearly not expected as a favorite as the race took place on a lake! But winning at the start of the ICF event and then achieving less good results quickly made me move on!! I did not have time to savor it, haha! I would have preferred to win at the end of the Lake Balaton weekend haha! This is what I did at the French Championship at Ile de Ré, to finish the event on a good note haha!
The “cagous” (Ed. name given to the New-Caledonians) dominated the French and most of the SUP Race scene this year with your world title and record string of victories, Noïc Garioud’s two world title as well as the very first French SUP foil downwind title inaugurated by Clément Colmas. How do you explain this New-Caledonian domination?
Yeah, Noïc has been great, he will clearly be the strong man in 2022! I am the only one to have beaten him this year and I had a hard time getting there, so, dear racing colleagues, if you don’t want to see Chicken’s backside all through the 2022 season, train well!!!
I think it was hard for Clément to see Noïc perform so well as Noïc was always in front. But I think he took it the right way, ie proud and happy to see his sidekick win, while keeping motivated to be stronger in 2022! If he trains properly and seriously, Clément will be as hard to beat as Noïc! And in foiling, he amazed everyone. I wasn’t surprised, he’s been spinning around on his foil for years now, doing carves and upwinding, while I’m trying to go as fast as possible!
It’s worth noting that New Caledonia was affected less and later by the Covid crisis! We were able to train undisturbed last winter. Also, in normal times we can train better and more than our friends from the Northern hemisphere who have to train in the middle of winter at the time of the season when it is necessary to train a lot in order to perform well later on!
I can see that when I am in France in winter that it’s harder to go and train. With the short days and the cold weather, you have to be twice more motivated than at home, so big respect for all the guys in Europe and the US!
Also, New Caledonia created a Territorial Training Center under the leadership of Joëlle Le Breus under the aegis of the New Caledonian Surf League and that has also a lot to do with our performances! Noïc and Clément were able to evolve in great conditions thanks to it this year. I don’t know of many places that offer public high-performance training facilities and coaching like the ones we have in New-Caledonia. France certainly does not have that yet… (2022 goal?)
And then, above all, and that’s for sure, haha, Noïc and Clément saw a guy from New Caledonia become world champion in 2014 and travel around the world just to SUP after that! It made them want to join the fun! I should have made them sign at the time, to never ever go faster than me!! Because yes, emotionally I’m happy to see them perform at the highest level, but at the same time it hurts to be overtaken by two guys who will always remain for me the two little kids from our Caledonian SUP gang! A personal message to Noïc though… watch out and enjoy while you can, because your little brother is coming haha!
Can you describe your 2022 NSP gear in relation to your goals this season?
2022? We don’t know if I’ll be on NSP? Did you get any info? haha – I think I will develop the NSP fishing board and go live on love and fresh water on an island!
But the gear, yes I can talk about it because it is already in production, and even already in some stores for the lucky shops who have managed to brave the manufacturing deadlines and transport delays!
In SUP racing we keep the same range:
– A Ninja for flat conditions, but not only! If you spend a little time on it, you can perform in increasingly rough conditions!
– The timeless and unmistakable Carolina, the most versatile board, and one of the most beautiful board creations I’ve seen. Considering how much it inspires some people, we can certainly be proud of it! But hey, we’ve never won the Carolina Cup since we produced it and called it Carolina haha! (2022 target ??)
– The Puma, if you only want one board that does it all! I find it beautiful, quite simply! Simple and efficient at the same time!
– The Sonic, the downwind machine that I have seldom used last year, because sadly, we don’t have a lot of downwind races anymore! (2022 target ??)
– The Molokai Unlimited if one day the famous crossing (Ed: the Molokai 2 Oahu – M2O) makes a come back on the calendar! (2022 target?)
The NSP range in surfboard has become downright awesome. I haven’t surfed much this year to my great sadness! But each time with our boards it has been a pleasure! This is the big evolution for us, our surfboards have clearly done a good job in terms of shapes and construction!
In SUP FOIL I have fun, I love our gear, it’s a bit like my recreation, my vacation, my free time toys for now. I am at the top of my mast and I fly over the water! Thank you little foil for giving me so much freedom!
There’s a sense of family feeling when you’re with the NSP crew. Can you describe your relationship with the brand and some of its protagonists?
We owe these great SUP race boards at NSP to an infernal trio, Alain Teurquetil, Travis Grant and myself! All our follies are supported by a team in Thailand who trusts and encourages us! It’s a company that is there to give pleasure to people on the water! I feel good there, I am supported and it goes well beyond a sponsorship relationship! Bonds that will remain and new ones that are being created.
I have had an unlimited board at Travis’s for years and always get good advice from him before big dates!
I can walk up to Alain’s and complain if there are no blueberries left in the fridge!
I arrive at Vincent Verhoeven‘s house with my dirty laundry and leave with a suitcase that smells like a flower bouquet!
A boss and employees who follow all my races!
All NSP riders come and stay at my house at some point and I think Kaelan Lockhart is next haha! (2022 target?)
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