The pinnacle of the 2018 season for Great Britain’s premiere surfski squad was the Breizh Ocean Race; an ICF World Cup held in Quiberon, France. On 20 October 2018
Quiberon is a small town on the end of a peninsular that juts out 9 miles to sea. The exposed spot and consistent wind make it an ideal downwind base, especially when combined with warm weather!
We sailed from Plymouth to Roscoff on Wednesday 17th, arriving at the race village the next morning after a few of Jim’s ‘cultural tours’ when the sat-nav went wrong. The base was a national sailing school with all the facilities needed and an organised feel.
With the offshore wind set to continue until race day, on Thursday we meet up with French paddlers and drove east to paddled the race course from Kerpenhir point back to Quiberon. Conditions were good, apart from the hard pull back to the centre. The coastline looked beautiful in the sunshine and it was good to see the course, feel the currents and practise some downwind ahead of race day.
We stayed in a mobile home situated in the caravan park on the tip of the Quiberon peninsular, just 5 minutes’ walk from the race finish. This was a happy coincidence as we weren’t aware of the finish location till we arrived! The home was very orderly but very tight on space. We also had an excellent sea view so we could make paddling decisions from the sitting room!
Friday was a relaxed day giving us the chance to look around the trade stands and chat to talk tactics and kit and meet up with the large community of GB paddlers who had made it across to paddle in the open event. After registration Jim, Lewis and Alice went to recce the race finish while Francis and Dougal couldn’t resist doing the ‘fun race’ which involved a short out and back on both skis and SUPs. It was hilarious to watch SUP virgin Francis struggling in the choppy conditions!
The fun race was followed by the briefing which was carried out in style with wine and nibbles. We finished the day with home cooked pasta and a sunset walk to the finish.
We travelled to the start at 9.30, where we were arrived to be assigned minibuses and trailers for our boats. This was a luxury compared to Ireland where Jim had to drive to the start, then the finish and take a train back to the start. The starts were slightly chaotic with a horn, flag and ‘GO!’ all in use (but slightly out of time!). The ladies were the first to find this out to Rebeca’s benefit but Alice’s detriment. The men followed, now wiser to the start procedure.
The race headed out of a calm bay, where over the next 2 miles the bumps picked up as we headed out to M aban Island. From there we turned to cross the bay, and the waves aligned to take us back to Quiberon. This was a great downwind course, with the paddlers able to link the waves to reach high speeds.
The field split up as some contestants went for a direct line while others opted for a line closer to shore finding some benefit of having an easier time against the oncoming tide. We headed for the tip of the peninsular and once around, it was a 1 mile flat sprint through a rock garden to finish on the beach.
After taking a shower at our very conveniently located mobile home we headed over to the sailing school for prize giving.
We made the most of the warm weather by going for a sunrise paddle the next morning before heading home after a very enjoyable and successful trip. Once again, none of this would be possible without the generosity and hard work put in by the Team Manager Jim Taylor-Ross and the support from Epic Kayaks UK.
Lewis Kirton – 11th Senior Male
Rebeca Newson – 3rd Senior Female
Francis Huntingford – 4th U23 Male
Dougal Glaisher – 9th U23 Male
Alice Bray – 3rd U23 Female