The Stand Up Paddle continues to draw in the fans and is proving to be a real lure for the great champions.In Paris in the early hours,the River Seine was transformed into the world's'hotspot'with an impressive array of watersports champions launching themselves into the water amidst some 200 competitors,keen to secure a win in the 3rd Nautic SUP Paris Crossing.Robby Naish,the Bixente brothers, Peyo Lizarazu,Antoine Albeau,Faustine Merret and Sidney Gavignet were just some of the top professionals pulling out all the stops to snatch victory in this first sprint across the capital. The second leg was played out in a series of duels in the large pool which is the star feature of the Spot, the watersports village set up at the heart of the Nautic, where the majority of manufacturers of surfboards, SUPs, kayaks, dinghies and sports catamarans are showcasing the latest additions to their ranges.
It's an impressive, surrealist image to see the hundreds of surfers devouring the River Seine like a wave at daybreak. The Pros, kitted out with orange vests, also had to do a loop of the Ile Saint Louis, thus extending the distance to travel and keeping the fleet relatively compact with those from the Leisure category. Over the course, which spans nearly thirteen kilometres, the separation between the top three Pros was just four seconds, testifying to the intensity of the battle where every paddle stroke counts. The competitors, supervised by the Services de Navigation de la Seine, the River Police and volunteers from the SNSM (RNLI equivalent), all enjoyed an unforgettable battle, with just a single retirement to report and a remarkable time of 59mn and 14 seconds for Thomas Hébert, the winner of the Leisure category and the first Junior, whose performance was timed using the MyGeolive system. Once they reached the finish and warmed up on the Microsoft campus, which provides a trusty race support in the form of Windows Phone, hundreds of competitors reserved a standing ovation for Robby Naish, alias Le Boss, a genuine watersports legend and creator of the eponymous brand, which partners the event. Robby, who also sponsored the 2011 edition, went a step further this year by taking to the water with his fellow competitors. He came 7th in the Leisure category! The tough guy of the river, Eric Terrien, retained his title and secured victory in the Pros category, whilst Faustine Merret, gold medallist in the Olympic Games in Athens, took victory in the women's category.
As much as stamina was the key quality which stood out beneath the Eiffel Tower this morning, it was raw power and dexterity which made the difference under the spotlights of the Nautic boat show at the Porte de Versailles. There was great hilarity and some memorable wipeouts on show to the public, who were astounded at times and often overwhelmed. With its 200 competitors and its 300 entry requests, the Parisian race is fast becoming one of the top SUP events in the world and a highly popular attraction at the International Paris Boat Show. The Stand Up Paddle is adopting a similar status across the world and, being accessible to all, it gives enthusiasts a thrilling ride on all types of waters, whether they are flat, inland, offshore or rough! The podiums for the different categories are a reflection of the diversity of the sportsmen and women:
In the Leisure category, Thomas Hébert took the title ahead of Italian Davide Ionico and Spaniard, Borja Basso. Robby Naish finished 8th overall, Sidney Gavignet 19th, Antoine Albeau 20th and Bixente Lizarazu 22nd. In the Women's Leisure category, Valérie Vitry won the event ahead of Nally Bouty and German Marion Rappl. Finally Thomas Hébert and Davide Ionico also took the win in the Junior Leisure category ahead of another Italian champion, Federico Benettolo. In the Pros category, the top three women were Faustine Merret, Slovenian Manca Notar and Spaniard Sonja Hönsheid. Finally, the Men's Pro podium was comprised of the decidedly invincible Eric Terrien, tailed by Yoann Cornelis and Spaniard Roman Frejo.