BRITTANY, France - On Tuesday the 12th of January, a group of six stand up paddlers, invitee riders of the Paddle Storm Master event including the likes of Eric Terrien and Martin Letourneur, gathered for a crazy downwind in the “Rade de Brest, Brittany”, to try the first course option and the safety facilities before the official event.
The Paddle Storm Master is the first international SUP Downwind event including a one month waiting period to offer the best downwind conditions to its participants. The French 14' SUP Race Championships permitted event organizers to select the best French riders for this event. The event won't run under 30knts of wind and SUP foils are also accepted.
Photos: Ewan Lebourdais
At the beginning of the run, the wind strengthened quickly, stronger than what was predicted, especially when it turned from a southwest angle to a northwest angle. At that moment, and because of the specificity of the area, a venturi effect provoked the wind to go from 35-40knts to more than 60knts with some very strong gusts approaching the 90knts+. The National French Navy assured the safety of this course with three safety boats. It was a memorable and educational experience for both the riders, the organizers, and the safety crew with conditions pushing the limits of what is possible and what is too dangerous in SUP racing.
Photo: Ewan Lebourdais
Every rider had a GPS track on them to try to reach the maximum speed on a bump and on 500 meters. The previous records have been clearly surpassed with average speed approaching 10knts on 500 meters for a maximum speed of more than 15knts.
One of the riders who broke his leash and pulled out his lifejacket got caught by the safety boat within a few minutes. It wouldn't have been possible for the other riders to turn back and help him in time in these conditions. It brings the reflexion that when the wind outpasses 40knts, a safety boat seems necessary.
Two riders also tried the experience with their SUP Foil. The potential of this gear has once again been reveled but it also showed that even for confirmed foil riders, it would take a lot more work to do the entire run as fast as the 14' race boards.
Photos: Ewan Lebourdais
The Paddle storm master team would like to thank its devoted partners : Ecole navale, Océan Pirogue, Crozon Morgat, Landévennec, Brest, SECUMAR, Hyfield, Base de vitesse de Brest, West Courtage, Tout commence en Finistère.
To see a preview for the Paddle Storm Master event, watch the video below.