After Bilbao being a river race, the Hossegor race course may start on a canal too, but it is renowned for its Atlantic tide and the more rougher conditions on the open water. Naturally, offshore specialists were eagerly anticipating this event, especially those paddlers who had a bone to pick from previous stages.
But with Hossegor 2018 getting closer, the forecast predicted virtually no waves or swell, and several team riders notified us they weren’t competing due to the “flat” conditions. In the end, the race was chaotic and anything but boring, with some very controversial calls concerning a botched start and a rider finishing without a leash despite official protests from other racers.
Several elite NSP riders made it to the start, along with roughly half of the top ten riders on the tour. The race started in the canal (check diagram), with a course into the open water with more buoy turns than usual, keeping the racers close to the break with two longer stretches behind the break.
Looking at the diagram you can clearly make out the zig-zags just in front of the coast, and the finish at the 2nd Event Zone.
“The start of the race was always going to be a challenge. At the rider brief it was said the officials would wait until everyone is on a straight line and they would then sound the horn.”
“So everyone got into a line and as usual, people tried getting an edge, gradually starting to paddle faster and faster until the entire line was at racing speed. So everyone was stopped and the racing officials restarted too soon, with a lot of people getting caught unprepared.”
This was a sentiment mirrored from Titouan Puyo who ended up winning the event, despite momentarily losing his balance and suffering from the botched start as well:
“They initially did a false start and gave the signal for the real start just moments after that, causing a big mess. Top guys like Mo, Noic and myself were still waiting when we realized the race had already started. I guess I was in 40th place at the entrance of the harbor and climbed back to 12th position after about 2km.”
The start wasn’t Titouan’s only point of criticism, as he mentioned that the multitude of boats also interfered with the racing conditions, upsetting him and providing Titouan with “the energy to conquer the rest of the field”. Vincent Verhoeven who was on location noticed how T2 persevered and fought back all the way to the lead. A short drop in the shore break caused a fallback from 2nd to 3rd position, but in the end it didn’t matter. Titouan finished first, so it looks like his training of consistent buoy turns, surfing and chop paddling really paid off.
As of now, Titouan is preparing to compete at La Baule with the rest of the French NSP team, taking into account that Molokai is just a month away.
Full results below:
All pictures by The Paddle League and Georgia Schofield/Result listing by TotalSUP
Special shoutout goes to Bossman Chris Parker, who was thoroughly missed throughout the proceedings