Titouan Puyo : Unidentified Flying Rider

titouan puyoNOUMEA, NEW-CALEDONIA — Unknown in the world of Stand-Up Paddle only 6 months ago,¬†Titouan Puyo¬†has managed within a few months to¬†win the France championships in Long Distance, qualify for the french team, be a medal-winner at the¬†Paris Sup Crossing and, only last week,¬†beat some of the best australian riders in their own back yard. Watch out, U.F.R. !

TotalSUP : Hello Titouan, could you tell us more about your life and what you did until your name appeared at the France championships last autumn? 

I was born in¬†1991 in Rapa, one of the islands in the¬†French Polynesia archipelago !¬†My parents and my older brother¬†happened to be in the area on their sailing boat when I was born. To this day, my parents are still on their boat. I lived my 6 or 7 earliest¬†years in French Polynesia and then moved to New Caledonia, with a few detours here and there on the boat. That’s where¬†I started¬†practicing va’a with my older brother.¬†Since 2005, I have been¬†part of the¬†caledonian va’a¬†teams for the world championships,¬†the Pacific games and many other competitions.

The results I am most proud of are¬†my 4th place and our team silver medal in the¬†¬†2010 world championship as well as the¬†5 silver medals at¬†the 2011¬†Pacific Games. My best memories, a¬†va’a festival in the¬†Cook islands and a tour of¬†Moorea with Teva, a team from Tahiti. Thanks to this intense practice of water sports, I very¬†naturally went to university to study¬†sports, first in Noumea, New Caledonia, then in Brest, France¬†and in the french region of les Landes.

How long have you been doing SUP? 

I started doing Stand Up Paddle regularly when I came back from France at the end of 2012. The main reason for this was because I needed to get back in shape, also because I was curious and people around me kept saying that I should try. And after the first race, I had a sponsor ! He actually became a friend and as he runs a board shop, the Noumea board Shop this also got me a job, as he needed to build the Noumea Sup school to go along with the shop. So I created it in 2013.

titouan puyoCan you explain to us what¬†va’a is? Any similarities with Stand-Up Paddling?¬†¬†

A va’a is an outrigger canoe. It’s a traditional french polynesian boat which¬†differs from other versions because it doesn’t have a rudder. The paddle does it all. It has been my sport for years and will be for a long time. It’s also where I have numerous friends. Of course, va’a is a big help for Stand-Up Paddle:¬†the long hours spent on the sea, the starting lines, effort management¬†and the paddle stroke – although it’s clear that SUP¬†has its own specificities.
Therefore I would agree that, in Tahiti¬†especially,¬†where¬†va’a is king, there is a huge reserve of future Stand-Up Paddlers. You can see that already with¬†Georges¬†Cronsteadt¬†and I am sure others will come – and¬†from¬†Noumea, New Caledonia¬†also hahahah !

In less than 6 months, you have put your name at the top of the SUP race tables, and not just in France but internationally. Did you expect to be a great performer so fast ?

Well, this came fast, yes and no…¬†I have been doing va’a competitions since 2003, but obviously this sport gets less¬†media attention¬†! I have to be honest though,¬†I have never had good results like the ones I have just had in SUP. I prepared well for the France championships both to perform well but also to succeed in finding sponsors.¬†Job done since¬†Starboard¬†has welcome me in their dream team¬†! My big thanks to them for believing in me¬†! Consequently I am discovering the top level and finding out that I have much to learn and improve¬†especially with my balance in technical race.¬†I like¬†long¬†distance!

You qualified for the french team and are going to take part in the ISA World Championships in May? How do you feel about it?

To be able to represent France is amazing ! And it does mean something for people around me who are not familiar with Stand Up Paddle.¬†I am going to learn a lot in Nicaragua. I am used to this sort of events in va’a and I look forward to seeing what it’s like for SUP. The team’s¬†objective is to be on the¬†podium and I shall try my best to achieve this!

titouan puyoWhat are you worth in the waves? 

Hmmm my level in¬†SUP surf… I only started training seriously in waves last week as Peter Dorries, who is¬†coaching me during my 2 weeks stay here in Australia, insists¬†that it will help a lot for technical races. So I can say I am ok in waves¬†but far from being able to compete !¬†I like to do competitions when I know I am in the game !¬†So, I’m getting into it to get better at racing. I like¬†short and¬†longboard though which I have been doing with friends¬†in¬†Bourail and¬†Port Moselle for years ! I love it but¬†va’a has always been the¬†priority¬†and that explains my level.¬†

titouan puyoCan you tell us about your homeland, New Caledonia? 

I have travelled a lot and I still find New Caledonia amazing !¬†That’s also where most of my friends and my parents are ! You can do¬†windsurf in¬†Lanse Vata, surf at¬†La Passe¬† or at¬†La¬†Roche Perc√©e¬†(the¬†locals¬†are going to kill me for giving away¬†those spots¬†haha). You have¬†rivers to swim, bathe and jump, beautiful walks, the largest¬†lagoon in the world which offers perfect conditions for¬†downwinds, fishing,¬†what else ?¬†I could¬†go on and on !¬†¬†Why don’t you come and see for yourself¬†! I cannot show it all with my¬†Go Pro (the local Go Pro dealer is another¬†sponsor by the way) !
In terms of local competitions, we’re getting there.¬†It’s more of a downwind place right now but the¬†local league and the club of¬†Asptt Noumea Glisse (ANG) are working hard to put together some great competitions¬†! There is even an international competition project on the table which we hope to organize in the next years¬†! I am very proud to showcase Caledonian SUP along with¬†the¬†windsurfer¬†Sarah Delaunay, who ranked 3rd¬†in the France SUP race championships¬†! Hopefully soon, many other caledonians will join us in the international competitions¬†!

Oleti, maururu, thank you¬†TotalSUP for inviting me – that’s 2 more languages for you on the site,¬†Drehu and Tahitian !

titouan puyo

About the Author

Mathieu Astier

Mathieu is the hyper-active founder of TotalSUP and a multilingual online marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience working for top international internet companies. His love-at-first-sight for Stand Up Paddling in 2013 led him to build one of the leading online media dedicated to SUP in English and French and to turn his family lifestyle towards the ocean.

To follow Mathieu: