In April the UK always starts the race season with The Head of the Dart race. I decided not to do this race as this year it was predominantly a leisure race and the course had been shortened due to the wind to allow the leisure paddlers a better chance of finishing.
I decided to head to France for the Rance Race with difficult competition. The French National Champion, Celine Guesdon, had entered and Celine is currently 15th placed female in the World and tougher competition than I would have in the UK. I had raced Celine in Paris in December and finished about 2 minutes behind and was hoping to push for a closer finish.
The race start was sitting straddled the board and jumping to start. I had never started a race like this, and it showed. By the time I was on my feet and paddling I was in 4th place. I had confidence in my speed so my plan was to push hard and not allow anyone on my tail. I got into 3rd place quickly and was about to pass and take 2nd place. I did not want Valerie Vitry to jump on my draft so I paddled wide of her and paddled straight onto a sand bar. I hit it with speed and catapulted myself off the front of the board. I was once again about 10 board lengths off 2nd place. Within a few minutes I had caught back up and had to pass close. Valerie slotted straight onto my tail and I made the decision to stop paddling as I had no desire to pull a slower paddler closer to the first place female. Valerie paddled off to the side and I was now paddling for first place. 7km into the 12km race I had caught up with first place and sitting on her tail. Celine and I shared drafting until the last km of the race, I pulled out of the drafting position and was confident in my board speed that I would be able to pass. Everytime I tried to pass, Celine would direct her board into my path and I was unable to pass and the distance we had left was not long enough for me to go wide. I was extremely frustrated as I knew I had better board speed, but this is racing and it is exactly what I would do.
Coming up to the turning mark we were still only a second apart and Celine got a great turn and I got caught behind back markers from an earlier start. I crossed the line 8 seconds behind.