PUNAAUIA, Tahiti - For its 4th annual event the Air France Paddle Festival will be adding even more fun to its already awesome event. In addition to being at one of the most scenic arenas (Tahiti) and the LIVE broadcast shown around the world, the Air France Paddle Festival wanted to switch things up in its 5th year. Here’s what’s new:
1. New Event Site
Aerial view of the new event site for 2017's Air France Paddle Festival. | Photo via: Air France Paddle Festival
For the past 3 years the Air France Paddle Festival has grown each year and has ultimately outgrown its original location. The event site will be moving just about a mile away to Maeva Beach and will not only allow for a bigger village with more activities and vendors but will also make parking much easier and more convenient.
2. New 24km Course
A 24km course is brutal, there’s no doubt about it, and this year it will become more difficult as there will be a new course implemented. The new course will implement trickier conditions where paddlers will have to pass through two big reef passes with waves and strong currents, making local knowledge of the course key. Aside from the harder course this year logistically things will be just a bit easier as the race start location has been changed. In previous years the 24km course started at a separate venue from the event headquarters which made transportation and logistics for families competing in multiple races quite difficult. This year, the race start will be at the same location as the event site making the course change a bit as well as making things easier logistically allowing for much more parking and room available.
3. New U14 Kids Race
In years past there has been a fun race where kids get to compete against their peers but for 2017 a new, official, U14 kids race has been added. The race will be 2km and will start and finish at Maeva Beach.
4. SUP Polo
SUP Polo will be played at the Air France Paddle Festival. | Photo via: SUP Polo World Games
SUP Polo has been a popular attraction at many events and the Air France Paddle Festival has added a SUP Polo tournament to its list of fun. SUP Polo is a great addition to the Festival and will allow the non-racers an opportunity to get competitive and have fun while doing so.
In previous years, parking was an issue as the original venue was not ideal for parking. This year the venue change allows a lot of room for parking. But not only that, race organizers will be allowing for a board drop off for the 8km Lagoon Race (which is the biggest race of the day in terms of participation) on the day before with overnight security watching your boards until you arrive in the morning ahead of the race. And what's more, participants will be able to park at the event site in the morning and have a shuttle take them to the race start line so when they finish the race they will have their cars waiting for them in the parking lot.
2016 Air France Paddle Festival Lagoon Race. | Photos via: Va'a News
With these new additions to the 2017 Air France Paddle Festival its likely that the event will once again grow from last year’s 337 competitors and attract new faces to not only the largest SUP event in the South Pacific, but also to the sport as a whole. The event is amazing for the local paddlers of French Polynesia but is also an event for elite athletes from around the globe as the prize purse and chance to compete with some of the best paddlers in the world are available. Previous years had world-class athletes like Annabel Anderson, Titouan Puyo, Olivia Piana and locals Georges Cronsteadt and Steve Teihotaata take part in the Elite Race. The Prize Purse in 2017 is 3,000,000 XPF (Tahitian currency) which is equivalent to over 25,000 euros. Prizes are made up of cash, plane tickets and more. See the full cash-prize breakdown below for the Elite Race.
1st = 250,000 XPF (US$ 2232)
2nd = 150,000 XPF (US$ 1339)
3rd = 80,000 XPF (US$ 714)
4th = 45,000 XPF (US$ 402)
5th = 30,000 XPF (US$ 268)
6th = 15,000 XPF
7th = 10,000 XPF
8th = 8,000 XPF
9th = 6,000 XPF
10th = 5,000 XPF
Bonus : 1st Local wins 1 Plane Ticket (PPT/ LAX/PPT)
1st = 100,000 XPF (US$ 893)
2nd = 65,000 XPF (US$ 580)
3rd = 30,000 XPF (US$ 268)
Bonus : 1st Local Woman wins 1 Plane Ticket (PPT/ LAX/PPT)
ELITE JUNIOR (under 18):
1st = 70,000 XPF (US$ 625)
2nd = 40,000 XPF (US$ 357)
3rd = 25,000 XPF (US$ 223)
Bonus : 1st Local Junior wins 1 Plane Ticket (PPT/ LAX/PPT)
VETERAN (over 41):
1st = 45,000 XPF (US$ 402)
2nd = 20,000 XPF (US$ 179)
3rd = 10,000 XPF (US$ 89)
Bonus : 1st Local Veteran wins 1 Plane Ticket (PPT/ LAX/PPT)
To learn more about the Air France Paddle Festival and for registration info, click HERE.
To see news and highlights from previous years, click HERE.
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