The race that never happened

Last weekend my mate nadege and I went to Cornwall. My intention was to race in my 1st surfski race in the UK.  Since coming back from the USA it has been a struggle trying to get accepted into races especially in France; I have prove myself competent of the conditions; fustrating because numerous people explain to me its because the races are not flat water; I never even knew that surfski existed on flat water; I live on the sea; I paddle in waves; wind and swell; I couldn’t even tell you where a bit of flat water is…

So after convincing the organisers I was worthy, off we went….I was pretty exhausted after a week of hand,foot n mouth and with the Jim away at sea it has been full on….so the race was always a bit doubtful…

We arrived Friday night after a pleasant crossing despite the swell rolling in..I prepared myself for the race by eating a curry; drinking a few pints; cocktails and a vodka jelly…. the true athlete I am….

The day of the race in Looe the weather was crap. I wasn’t feeling it from the start.  
The race meeting emphasised the conditions; already I opted for the short course. I am definitely not into upwind paddling with a side on swell. 

The Race course

Driving to the start point I was 80% sure it was not for me. I was not feeling it. 20% of me just wanted to see how it was. I hired a surfski and that made more hesitant if I was in my own boat I’d be ok. 

I got to the start line and looked up and there were some heavy sets coming in and yup I called it a day.

Should I go?

Start line

I couldn’t careless about calling it a day for my pride, I was excited to be in the UK. But did surprise me was the levels of inexperience in the race. I thought I was a beginner, but no, there were people who had only been flat water surfskiing for 3 months….what on earth were they doing there….  and why were they not 2nd guessing their limits? 

Unfortunately when conditions are like that you get the speel from the men.  About being one with water. I work offshore; I m in the sea mostly every day, I live on the beach.  I m an acomplished swimmer; I m a divemaster, I sup surf; I do all that…but I do not posses the ability to breathe underwater; I m not a mermaid…so why would I say that….. maybe they haven’t done too many bosiet courses….the old skool way… This to me highlights a problem that I see frequently women questionning their limits; men believing they possess gills….

Once I boerowed a surf board off a dutch guy in skegness (I was working there) he made me sit and watch tye waves for 1 hr to get a feel for the ocean….whatevs?! 😂

So alas no race for me. So off we went back to the finish line where a bbq was being had. I was able to meet up and chat with some cool women paddlers…which is always a treat… there is a massive inequality in the numbers of women paddlers… and we were interested in finding out why….its still a mystery… but I m super happy I went; just to chat about paddling is awesome…I don’t get the chance too much here in France; without being schooled….

I ll be back next time with my own boat and maybe a tent… I m glad I saw the route so I can train for it. Well done Andy the organiser what a fine effort..I ll be back and hopefully with my family…but no kebabs next time….

Women who paddle

Bit apprehensive

Exploration Paddle

A few years ago I was really into SUP racing but have steadily lost interest in it.. I m not sure why; but I think I have met a few too many paddlers who compete to be the winner…if they are not the winner they have an excuse…always an excuse…either that or they are a bit too non chalant about paddling it seems to be a side interest…something that they will move on from in the next few years…. as a die hard paddler I m dissappointed… so I limit myself to spending time in that environment and thus I have steadily decreasing mad training sessions and started exploring the coast with SUP. ( also the  fact that I can’t actually be arsed to train…. if there are waves I ll be on a wave with my sup surf…if there is wind and waves I ll be on my surfski…if there is neither I ll be relaxing on the beach….)

This exploration all started in Scotland and since moving to the north coast of finistere I have started branching out, finding islands and stretches of the coast I can only get too by paddling….and having a cup of coffee..I like the idea of peace and quiet…funny how that has just evolved in the last 3.5 years ;)…eventually I ll take my tent…spend the night…

So last night my mate Melina (a canuck and hockey player) came up to join me…a much needed respite from the kids  (I run a respite centre for mums in the summer holidays…paddling and wine drinking is on the syllabus).. with bloody strong westerly winds I was unsure of what to do… but alas I thought lets do an upwind wind\down wind with an apero ( “aperitif  alcoholic drink taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite” )

After a short drive to the neighbouring village; Plouguerneau, and an obligatory drive-by of my hockey hall we set about for a tiny 1km up wind…after a few minutes of zig zagging by Melina we were away….20 mins later we were on the island… some tourists had already pitched camp there…I can only imagine their horror when they thought their island insolite was about to be ruined….lucky for them we were keen to avoid them too…

So after a bit of island exploration we set about to find a place to take our apero and watch the sunset…. looking over to Stagadon and Ile Vierge it was great to breathe without worrying about an elbow in the throat from a child….

What amazes me is how the scenery changes with the tide…it really becomes so different…

I m hoping to go back for an overnight in September when the grockles have left; with the girls….and some refreshments…

So there you have it…a micro adventure of 2.5hours…babysitter was on the clock so no tine for dilly dallying

(We also wanted to reward ourselves by ordering a take away pizza…only to find the pizza placed closed…ah yes we thought its is Thursday and the height of the tourist season….why would they be open???  – bloody french)

Paddle talk…We paddled my 14′ bic tracer and loco amigo 10×32 isup…considering the head wind was 20knots the loco handled it well…extremely stable and cuts through the wind nicely… Melina had the bic and on the way back she really got some speed…the loco surfed the dw waves really nicely too…I am suitably impressed by the amigo i ve surfed it; been on a dw and taken beginners out on it and uts been great and its extra light too 🤗

Wait for meeeeeee

Nice bit of green on the beach

Phare ile wrac’h

Nice bit of pink

No i m not going to be Leo….

View out to Ile Vierge lighthouse

Paddle Race

It has been 3 weeks since my paddle race weekend. But in between then and now my youngest caught foot n mouth 🤗. 

1st race was on the saturday. The Te Alto race was a mixed boat race, a combo of OC and surfski. First impressions, I was a bit dissappointed it wasn’t a downwind, a big triangular course meant I was going to be up wind; side wind and then a-just-off the bow wind…fustrating.  And that was just about right.  6km slog upwind then trying to find a good run on the way back… 14km later I finished. But it was satisfying to finish… 14km….

SUNDAY, the day after was the Beg Meil paddle cup…A family affair and a fairly managable 6km. 1st outing on my new 14′ bic tracer.   The race was fairly non descript a bit of a downwind but fairly short. More importantly it was a chance to hang with the friends in my 2nd backgarden in Concarneau…plus I won some booties! 

More importantly my friend Sandrine came 3rd in her class…so big up her!!!

Chasing Seals

Thursday morning sans enfants and the cleaner is in. So I have to excuse myself from the house.. I barely have my shit together with children I m not about to do a dance with the dyson… leave it to the professionals….

So this means wednesday night planning on #windty where to go…? Northerly winds means I can go to the holy grail of islands up here in #payspagan….Stagadon…

By time I got to the shoreline I was dreaming of a surfski about 10kg lighter…I love my boat but she could be lighter….but kudos to epic the V7 has taken so many knocks.

The trip was only 6 / 7 km but was pretty spectacular.. I was able to see a seal skulking around…

Once I arrived on stagadon it was deserted…except for the house…apparently its owned by a charity and its a bit out if boubds…shame …..I could have stayed a bit longer….but before long 20 teenage kids arrived… which prompted me to leg it and continue my circuit…  so I completed a circuit of the islands….

I had a bit of company in a seal…the 1st one this season… 

All in all a good morning paddle….

My next mission is to find an island I can #bivvy on…maybe enjoy some beers…. 

Route to Stagadon

On the way there….

Back of the island


Percy Paddler

White on blue