What a crazy year 2022 is for me. After a year of fooling around with inflatable and rigid boards, last fall I decided that SUP would be my new sport. So, this season would be my first real SUP Race year. In order to do this, I straighten my nutrition and lost 30 pounds, got in a thinner shape, headed to the gym for a different kind of training. As a coach, I always preached “Set Goals, Train, Do, Repeat”… and this is what I’ve done. Got a good board and changed paddle. Learned how to paddle with Tamas Budday Jr, joined a SUP club, attended training evenings and filled my SUP Race Calendar with various type of races and virtually raced this league. This league has strong paddlers. I can’t blame my age in any equation, I’m far from being the oldest. I met Sylvain St-Cyr and Wendy Tillet who are encouraging me to push my limits.
When I saw the Endurance Challenge, I had doubts. At this stage of the season, what am I worth? Can I do this? I am sure that I can do 4x15km. But would I be able to paddle 2x30km. Now where do I put this in a calendar when I race almost every weekend of the summer, plus other obligations. Time goes by fast.. too fast. I saw the deadline coming like a train. I decided to men’s up and do it. I only have 2 days available until the 6th to accomplish this Challenge so shut up and let’s go. Safety was my priority, making sure that I had an extraction plan just in case. I decided to do it in my “backyard”, on the Richelieu. At this time of the year, it’s not really a running river, there is next to no current on calm day (0.61kmh). Downwind is accepted and I should get 2 days of true south wind.
Excited and confident, I started my first 2x15km attempting to do a downwind. The first leg is not straight, so I had to navigate and understand wakes. This sport is an ongoing education. This is where I learned that you don’t do crazy stuff there on a Sunday, even if you think it’s gonna be quiet because of the weather. I was so wrong. So many boats going all over the place, circling around me sometimes. Now I know how easy its is for even a small boat to ruin a downwind. Ended up a rocking water 30km. But when I arrived at the dock, I felt satisfied because it was the first time for me doing that distance unstop.
Day 2. The day I learned Windy lies all the time ahah. Well almost. The weather forecasting now is side winds and no more downwind. So I changed my plan. I’ll go 15km south, turn and back for the last 15km, paddling side wind throughout the course. Started at the dock, looked at the sidewind and grinded it. Until the second km where the wind turned in my face, like straight in. I looked at the flying straight flags on shore laughing at me. Changed again my plan and decided to do 7.5km and turn.
This Challenge had to finish on a positive note. As soon as I arrived at the dock, contacted the wife to plan a downwind from our usual spot. But it’s only a 12km line meaning to do a 1.5km facing the wind and turn at the beginning. But I knew it. On site the flags are almost ironed. Go. Started to feel exhausted very fast as I could barely hit 5kmh for the first 15min. I have a lot to learn on how to surf the waves. I managed the 5k with nice waves until the wind died on me. Paddled the last portion with a bit of a tail wind mixed with boat wakes.
I guess this is when you say “the journey is more important than the finish”. This season, I feel like my learning curve was established by a NASA rocket lunch controller….
So many strong paddlers in this league. For some this will be a walk in the park. For me it was a hell of an accomplishment.
Time : 7h23.37