While we’re waiting for the official, complete classifications that never come, let’s come back on the technical aspect of the beach race that took place last Saturday in the Brittainy waves.
It was a figure 8 shaped course with a beach start, through the waves and crossing of the finish line without the board but with the paddle in hand.
The Strength, stamina, concentration, ability to read the waves, balance and especially experience were very important in making it through this race against the world’s best riders in this race format.
The choice of the board is the first thing to consider. The choice will go to a stable and a bit wider than average board to be very comfortable in the boils of the impact zone as well as surviving the “mini naval battles” of the starts of around the buoys!
A handle isn’t a luxury item: it facilitates carrying the board, the run and the throw which allows to give a good head start.
The first few heats of the beach race in La Torche took place at low tide and the riders had to make the choice between running for a longer period of time or paddling like crazy.
The first buoy was generally very busy and everyone was trying to get in the inside curve and everyone was getting on top of each other. It created a few tensions, but everyone knows it’s part of the game.
The second part of the course was bringing everyone back towards the beach and in the waves. The challenge was to try to find a good average and keep a high paddling rhythm but also keep an eye on the waves. Being able to read the waves is a great advantage if you know how to move and react like a surfer. It can allow to gain some precious time and effort, but you need to know when to get out of the wave not to end up ashore.
Going around the third buoy off shore would, half of the time, determine the final classification. The only thing that could change after that would be a surprise set which could send a few off-board. The riders who decided not to ride with a leash would then play all or nothing, knowing that loosing the board would mean loosing the race!
The last part of the course was a sprint to get away from who “survived” by your side during the previous parts. This last part was in the surf at low tide, but on the flat at high tide
The riders also need to keep their cool during the beach arrival, to make sure they don’t forget to take off their leash. We have seen big names like Gaetan Séné forget this detail in finals!! Other thing not to forget is to take the paddle with them to run to the finish line.
We will remember, on this course, the great battle betweem Eric Therrien and Kai Lenny in the Finals. The French man from Fuerteventura finally got away from Kai thanks to his great experience and his never ending physical resources.
Greg Closier also got a great third place, which makes up for his bad luck from the day before, where he was disqualified from the Long Distance course after a course mistake. He finishes the beach race in front of the energetic Casoer Steinfath and Mo Freitas.
For the ladies, Olivia Piana repeated her exploit of the previous day and getting in front of the French Faustine Merret and the Spanish Patricia Hernandez.
We hope to get you the official results tomorrow morning!
Text: Fred Bonnef
Photo: Laurent Tosetti