Finally my 2013 race season was coming to an end. The last race was a 12km paddle down the Seine in central Paris. Only one day a year can you paddle on the Seine so I was not missing this race.
It was surprisingly mild for Paris in December at 7 degrees, so I thought I would risk it and paddle without a wetsuit on, therefore was hoping and praying I would not fall in. I was feeling quite apprehensive as I put my new 2014 Starboard Ace in the cold water as I have been struggling with my balance on this board. As the current was flowing at up to 6km per hour and I knew I was going to have to deal with standing waves at a few of the bridges I was wondering did I do the right thing in only wearing running leggings and a rash vest.
The start was messy and I unfortunately started half way through the fleet of 300 paddlers so really had to work to get through the leisure paddlers to be up there racing with the 70 people in the pro race. After 1km I was in clear water and close to the middle of the river which meant I had maximum flow to carry me through the race. I saw countless people fall of their boards and I thought even if my paddle speed is slightly slower it will be more beneficial to not fall in.
The pro race incorporated a 1km upwind leg around an island – this was gruelling, all paddlers were desperately trying to paddle inches off the bank as that was where the flow was at its slowest. Thankfully this was the point in the race where I clawed back time and caught up with a lot of the pro paddlers. Once I rounded the Island and paddled with the flow my board was flying and my Black Project fin was helping me track straight and keep my board exactly where I wanted it to be as I paddled under the bridges. Trying to draft people was extremely difficult as you never knew when the person in front was going to fall off their board.
I finished the race in 4th place in the Pro female class and 34th overall in the Pro race and my Starboard Ace looked after me well. I stepped off the board at the finish line and I was still dry.
Finishing in 4th place meant I was in the sprint racing in the indoor pool at the Paris Boatshow. Flat, warm water and no need to wrap up. Joy!!
Thank you to Black Project Fins, Starboard UK and ZRE paddles for helping me throughout the year. Roll on 2014.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and hope to see you next year for another great year on the water.