Day 1 5/18/16
Arrived in St Maxime after a long day of travel. How wonderful it is to be here. I am joined by 2 of my sponsors from Mistral SUP and 1 other team rider, Steeve Teihotaata. I can’t help thinking what an incredible feeling it is to be here for the Euro Tour. Some of the best Standup Paddlers from all over the World are being flown in by their respective teams and brands to compete for a spot on the Euro Tour leader board and I happen to be one of them! It is an honor and a privilege that I have been working so hard for.
Day 2 5/19
Morning training session with Steeve on our brand new boards. Mistral just launched the Equinox 14’ Ultra and Vortex 14’ Ultra. It’s like the Mach II of our favorite Mistral 14’ boards. Technically improved, lighter, and faster. Lunch and Siesta as we are both suffering from some serious jet lag, and then back on the water in the afternoon for a photo shoot. Steve on the Equinox and myself on the Nautique, an inflatable SUP ‘yacht tender,’ paddling amongst the yachts in a Marina near San Tropez. I don’t think we could have left the harbor if we wanted to. This afternoon is was blowing a full gale straight down the Gulf of San Tropez. A fierce wind that is commonly called “the Mistral” here in the Mediterranean.
Day 3 5/20
Gentle morning training and more fun filming video promotions off the beach in St. Maxime. Practiced my beach starts and buoy turns over and over and over again in preparation for Saturday’s technical race course. Fun stuff and great videos. Check out a quick clip here: https://www.facebook.com/mistralsup/videos/1203226376363288/
I am delighted to report that I have gotten over jet lag and getting a good amount of sleep at night. Last time I came to Europe I hardly slept for 5 days and it killed me! I am not so delighted to report that the food in France is not so Vegan or even health-conscious friendly. I packed a lot of protein powder and organic energy bars, but not enough to last me 3 weeks at this rate. I hope I can find some more nourishing food in Germany and Spain.
Day 4 5/21
Today was the 4 mile technical race. It was 3 laps around a 1.3 mile course with 7 buoy turns each. The race didn't start until 330pm but we had to be at the beach to register and check in by 10am. It was a long day of waiting around. The nice, calm water we had in the morning was quite choppy by the time we started and all that buoy practice I did wasn’t much help in the waves. On lap 1 I was in 3rd place behind Sonni and Fiona. On lap 2 I was in 4th place behind Olivia and on lap 3, I fell twice and ended up finishing 6th behind April and Susak. What a bummer to miss top 5. I know it was not for lack of speed or stamina. Only a lack in technical skills required to turn 21 buoys in the chop. My board performed really well however. I didn’t think the Vortex would handle downwind, but it surfed nicely in the small bumps and even caught some action in the side chop. Upwind was a different story as I am not used to powering a 14ft board up wind, but in this everyone was struggling.
Day 5 5/22
Definitely one of those “Best Day Ever!” kind of days. Today I came 2nd place in the 9 mile long-distance race in St Maxime. It was for me a short, long-distance race and a great learning experience. I got in the lead draft trains early in the race as they started to form and quickly realized that this was the first time I had ever been in a train with more than 2 women. I battled it out on several occasions with Fiona Wylde and Olivia Piani for my place in the train. Once, when Olivia pushed my off Sonni’s tail and promptly let her get away, I was able to sprint to catch Sonni, The second time it happened I made the mistake of thinking that Olivia, Fiona and I were working together and it was one of their turns to do the sprinting and catching, but it never happened and by the time I pulled ahead to make a go, Sonni was just out of the redline reaching distance for me to catch her. So I learned to not rely on anyone else and won’t let that happen again. I felt really strong the whole race and was able to gap Fiona and Olivia finally in the last mile. Even though it is not a big win, I feel this is the first time I have really proven myself on a competitive, international field of women racers. I knew I had it in me to be up there with the top women, I just hadn’t actually done it until today. I finished the race in tears of joy and self pride. So I will keep moving forward and up from here!
After the awards I tagged along with about 20 of the other competitors and Euro Tour organizers to drinking the largest bottle of rose that I have ever seen, (I think went through 2 of them actually) losing track of time, then mass sprinting to catch the ferry to San Tropez where we walked the streets and eventually got some dinner. I had so much fun getting to know more of the competitors as we celebrated a fantastic and successful weekend of SUP racing in France.
A HUGE thank you to my Team and Sponsors at Mistral for making this happen and for the new super fast, Vortex 14’ Ultra.