Vendée Gliss 2019: SUP EuroTour Racing and Waterman Challenge Combo!

The 3rd edition of the Vendée Gliss is set to be unleashed on the 11th and 13th May 2019, following on from the success of last years event! which included its inclusion into the elite Eurotour Series. This year the Vendée Gliss will once again be a major event on the Eurotour circuit, but also it will combine this with a premier edition of a Waterman Challenge that will include running, swimming, Prone and SUP, aimed at both amateurs and elite racers.  Waterman Challenge athletes will be in with a chance to win a plane ticket to compete in the Watermana, Huahine courtesy of Air Tahiti Nui and TotalSUP , set to take place in November.  Philippe Le Duault, the owner of Vendée Gliss speaks to TotalSUP about the Vendee Gliss, the Waterman Challenge and putting St Jean de Monts back on the nautical map!

Hello Philippe, can you tell us about your role in the Vendée Gliss?

Hi TotalSUP! I work as the director St Jean Activités , a business which manages the convention centre, the nautical base (with 8 permanent in winter and summer), and coordinates or co-organises all the events in St Jean de Monts, focusing especially on the Vendée Gliss. But my role also extends to organising the St Jean de Monts triathlon, the  equestrian event Caval Océan and this year we will be involved with the French Beach Soccer Championship. On a personal level I  enjoy windsurfing and have done since I was 15 and I like to SUP Surf.

So tell us about the 2019 edition of the Vendée Gliss which promises to be even more important this year!

Yes, it is the Vendée Gliss 3rd edition. When I started this position 3 years ago, the mayor at St Jean de Monts tasked me with connecting the town back towards the sea. There was very little nautical activities in the area despite St Jean de Monts being based right on the sea! From this we developed the idea to create a water sports festival. Integrating SUP into the festival was an no brainer. What we liked about integrating SUP into the event was that the competition can operate in all conditions. We have developed the festival to have a certain theme each year, each discipline changing from one year to the next.

This year the theme will be “The Foil”. So we have kite foiling, windsurf foiling and foiling phantoms (editor’s note: flying catamarans). The focus of the festival is to open up sports to all, so there are plenty of opportunities to test and try new sports. Last year we held more than 350 surf and SUP introductory lessons!. In addition to foiling and SUP, we will also have surfing and sea kayaking. One great thing about the festival is that we will construct a “pop-up” nautical centre. Last year we had it behind the pier; just a few hundred meters from the main event, this year the festival will be on the Beach of the Birds, the main spot of the Vendée Gliss.

Vendée Gliss is included in the Eurotour, you must be excited!

Yes, we are part of the grand slam races within the Eurotour, with prize money of 12000 € , just as last year. There are only 2 races included in it within France. The Eurotour is a way to bring international riders to Saint Jean de Monts and among them the best in the world!

Can you disclose the SUP race route?

The long distance route will depend on the weather, we will have 3 possible routes. Ideally it will be a downwind race between Ile d’Yeu and St Jean de Monts, an option which most riders will enjoy and which we could not do last year.  This route will require us to take the riders by ferry to Ile d’Yeu, which adds a bit of adventure to the day of competition. The other possible route will be along the coast starting from Fromentine, or starting from St Gilles Croix de Vie.  The finish for all routes will be in  St Jean de Monts. The course distance will be at least twenty kilometres.

In order to run this race we have at least fifteen safety boats and as per rules here in France for SUP racing (ie 12’6 and 14), we need to be within 2 miles of the coastline.  But we have been granted permission to hold the Long Distance race 6 miles from the coast!. We will also be having a beach technical race, over 6 KM. This will provide spectators an opportunity to be immersed in the action of SUP Racing! We will also have Big SUP racing too! An action packed weekend.

Vendée Gliss 2019 Teaser:

This year for the 1st time Vendée Gliss will be qualifying Waterman event for the 2019 Watermana in Tahiti. Can you give us more details?

Yes it’s excellent news! This move was inspired by what has been done in Tahiti with the Watermana Tahiti Tour. The SUPWaterman Challenge is a 1000m swim, 4000m prone, 4000m running, 5000m SUP race. We wanted to set up an unique waterman event similar to what is done in the Waterman Challenges in France. We did this due to the strong Vendée links with Tahiti, links that have been ever present for a number of years. We are very close to the Vendée Va’a ( V6 race, a Tahitian pirogue with 6 seats) which takes place every year at Les Sables d’Olonne.

In fact, this year we will be sharing the safety cover with this event, and the same race director, Xavier Poirot.  So it was a natural step to be involved with the Watermana and Air Tahiti Nui. TotalSUP our media partner will be responsible for distributing the tickets. Tickets will be awarded to the  1st place  male and 1st placed female athlete in the elite Waterman event. The ticket, if won, can only be used to participate in the Watermana. If it turns out that the person has already qualified, the ticket will be offered to the next competitor on the results sheet. However, the waterman event is not restricted to elite athletes, there is also the Waterman Discovery event: 200m swim, 1000m prone, 1500m running, 2000m. Both events which you can do solo or in a pair!

Finally, why come to St Jean de Monts?

St Jean de Monts is the 2nd largest resort after La Grande Motte for tourism. Around 80,000 people a week visit the town, which equates to 1.5 million people a year. We have a forest strip of about twenty kilometers, that runs from St Gilles Croix de Vie to Noirmoutier, which is excellent to go between on foot or by bike.  Noirmoutier and Ile d’Yeu is a must for tourists as well! We also have the Breton-Vendée swamp close by, a beautiful nature reserve, which can be visited by foot, by kayak, SUP or boat. And finally we are 1 hour from Nantes and 1hr 30mins from Puy du Fou.

Hungry for action on the Vendée? Register your place to race or for the Waterman races!

About the Author

Helen Trehoret

SUP, OC1, V6, Surfski ... and field hockey coaching, Helen is a busy British mother of two who lives in Bretagne, France with a passion for all things Ocean. Helen runs Barrachou SUP, a SUP tour company specialized in excursions around Bretagne and Scotland.

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