Last weekend the Vendée Gliss race burst into life again on the French Atlantic coast. This year the Vendée glisse had the honor of being a prize winning waterman event, as well as a stop on the Eurotour. This years waterman event gave the chance for competitors to win a ticket a free Air Tahiti Nui plane ticket for both men and women winners, presented by TotalSUP for both male and female winner.
Photo Georgia Schofield
The weekend was crammed full of great performances. In the down wind / long distance race the elite paddlers put on a show. Fiona Wylde and Titouan Puyo left the Vendée as winners of the long distance race. Susak Molinero and Paolo Marconi RRD teammates both took the win in the technical race. In the waterman event Pauline Lesther and Joseph Gueguen won the Waterman Challenge. Both are on their way to Huahine in French Polynesia, next November to compete in the Watermana 2019 final! Sandrine Berthe, French based waterwoman and Fanatic France team rider was competing at the weekend. The waterwoman gives TotalSUP the full low down of the event!
Hello Sandrine, great weekend at Saint-Jean-de-Monts, did you have any goals going into the competition?
My goal was to win the ticket that was offered by Air Tahiti Nui and TotalSUP for Watermana 2019. However, I also wanted to test myself in long distance SUP race on the Saturday. I did the race because I just returned from a trip to Tahiti where I took part in two stages of the Waterman Tahiti Tour but also the Air Tahiti Nui Royal Race Paddle and Air France Paddle Festival (note: Sandrine finished in 4th place). Unfortunately, I was sick Friday so I couldn’t start the downwind race on Saturday morning.
This was your first time at the Vendée Glisse event, can you tell us more about the event?
The organisation was great. It is difficult in SUP racing to get to the right timing, logistics. It is especially difficult to move so many athletes and to get them started, this weekend everything ran like a Swiss clock. Congratulations to the organisation!
When we arrived on Friday, the weather reminded me of November, with lots rain and wind! At the briefing we were introduce to the course and all the details, especially the organisation to get to the starting point. There were a hundred athletes and as many boards to get to Ile d’Yeu for a 22 KM downwind all the way to Saint-Jean-de-Monts. It wasn’t just SUP racers, but also in prone and SUP Foil.
For accommodation, we got together with the Tahitians and other athletes who also came for the Vaimiti and Errol Maoni event, Titouan Puyo, Vincent Guillaume, Ty Judson and Médéric my husband. It was great to meet and share all the experience together!
Every one was ready for the event, the MC really got into the races and the enterainment vllage was great throughout the weekend. So for all the finishers, the public formed a line of honor and encouraged the athletes, it is the perhaps the best event where I saw the most spectators. They were lucky to be treated to the experience of seeing so many internationals who were present including Arthur Arutkin, Mickael Booth, Ty Judson, Olivia Piana, Titouan Puyo, Annie Reickert, Yuka Sato, Fiona Wylde.
So how was the long distance on Saturday?
On Saturday the rain had stopped. The boat trip until the departure was quite rough for the participants, the conditions at sea were difficult. Right at the beginning of the race, the wind was perfect, we had up to 15 knots well oriented, but we also had to contend with a cross swell (+/- 1m 50cm) making life a bit complicated.
The many big battles on the water even though throughout the race and with the distance the riders were scattered on the water. So at times it was difficult to know for sure everyones positioning. In the mens race, Titouan Puyo and Arthur Arutkin were neck and neck for a long time, before Titouan Puyo took the race by the scruff of the neck and won with a good lead. It was good to see Boris Jinvresse in 5th place, meaning that there were 3 French paddlers inside the top 5. The two Australian paddlers Michael Booth and Ty Judson came in at 3rd and 4th. In the womens race it was the downind specialists who dominatedd American paddler Fiona Wylde claimed 1st place, followed by Britttany based paddler Amandine Chazot and Hawaiian Annie Reickert.
The race also featured SUP foilss. There were two newcomers present. Titouan Galea won with a time of 2h 04 minutes. Eric commented that “We had little visibility (throughout the race), I actually got lost, I ended up swimming 30 minutes crosswind to get back to the edge of the field (apparently this also happened to Titouan). Foils go faster than the SUPs, so being out in front it was less obvious the location of the buoy than on a SUP” . Médéric Berthe (Fanatic SUP) raced in the prone divisioe. He was little disappointed to be the only participant, he did however a great race considering the training period that he had.
The running part of the race was long, we had to run barefoot because we alternated between dry sand and the edge of the water. Pauline is a good runner who does not weaken. The length of the stand-up paddle loop did not allow me catch up with her. So Pauline won and was awarded the ticket offered by Air Tahiti Nui and TotalSUP for the Watermana 2019.
I am satisfied with my race, I gave the best I could so I have no regrets. However as a competitor and passionate ahtlete I am very disappointed not to win the ticket for the Watermana. The waterman events are hard, require a lot of training, it is necessary to have a high intensity on each support but also to manage the muscle groups on all the transitions. Besides all that we are a circle of waterman that we constantly bump into each other and spend great moments together. Next stop the 22nd for the Kelt Ocean Waterman!