PUNAAUIA, Tahiti - Tahiti's biggest stand up paddle event, the Air France Paddle Festival, is back for its 5th consecutive year and will be hitting the beautiful shores of Maeva Beach on Saturday April 7, 2018. Recently announced as the first event of The Paddle League's new World Tour, the event is expected to attract even more competitors than previous years, especially high profile athletes that are gunning for the crown. With five different races, 3,000,000 XPF ($30,660) in prize money, and 100 points up for grabs in SUP Racer's leaderboard rankings, it is bound to be an exciting and action-packed competition. Find a breakdown of the event below.
Event Race Schedule
- Lagoon Race: 8 km
- Prone Race: 8 km
- Elite Race: 24 km
- Kids Race: 2 km
- Fun Race: 1.5 km
In the Lagoon Race, the event's most popular race in terms of participation, hundreds of paddlers head to the shoreline to paddle 8km in stunningly clear lagoon waters. Designed for intermediate level athletes, the course takes paddlers from the Port of Papeete, down along the coast to the village at Maeva Beach. Board size is unlimited and the registration fee is 4500 XPF ($45.99) until 2/28.
The 2017 8k Lagoon Race packed with hundreds of racers. | Photo courtesy: Supconnect
The Prone Race will begin fifteen minutes after the start of the Lagoon Race and follows the same race course. Board size is up to 12' and the registration fee is 4500 XPF ($45.99) until 2/28.
The Elite Race features the same 24km course as last year, combining both lagoon and open ocean elements. Tough but incredibly rewarding to the spirit, the race course offers the athletes incredible views and warm waters along with the chance to compete alongside some of the world's best paddle boarders. The 24km loop can be completed in two ways, however the direction of the race will be decided the day of the event, depending on weather conditions, and will be announced to participants at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the race. Board size is up to 14' and the registration fee is 6000 XPF ($61.32) until 2/28.
Start and finish of the 2017 Elite Race. | Photo courtesy: Supconnect
Added last year, the 2km Kids Race gives SUP racers under 14 a chance to compete in their own division. The U14 course features two 1km loops, starting and ending at the village at Maeva Beach. Board size is unlimited and the registration fee is 3000 XPF ($30.66) until 2/28.
Teams of three can register for the 1.5km Fun Race. In the final event of the day, teams will paddle three 500m loops - one loop per paddler - in the relay race event, starting and finishing at the village at Maeva Beach. Each team is required to have at least one female participant. Board size is unlimited and the registration fee is 9000 XPF ($91.98) per team until 2/28.
The ladies of the 2015 Air France Paddle Festival. | Photo courtesy: Supconnect
The Air France Paddle Festival village will be at the newly established Vairai Park on Maeva Beach. With beautiful white sand beach and a large open space with plenty of parking nearby, the event is bound to attract athletes from around the world. Previous years we've seen world-class athletes Annabel Anderson, Titouan Puyo, Olivia Piana and locals Georges Cronsteadt and Steve Teihotaata competing in the Elite Race. Now, with the formal release of the race schedule and its announcement as the initial race in the Paddle League's world tour, we expect to see even more athletes registering for the Tahitian event.
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