The 6th stop of the EuroTour took place in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France from May 4-5th. In its second edition of Azur Paddle Days, this event was new in the EuroTour calendar, and marked the return of the tour to the South of France a place always highly regarded by the International crowd.
Competitors were greeted on Friday afternoon in the Fort of Villefranche, were the final check in and the competitors briefing preceded the projection of the latest film of World famous Guillaume Nery, one of the best free divers in the world.
The competition started on Saturday morning with the Main Race, with nearly 150 participants in the water, it was the biggest event yet in this year’s tour to date, so a great sign of things to come. Fiona Wylde (Starboard) from USA and Michael Booth (Starboard) from Australia claimed the overall wins.
The Women’s race saw a very intense field with the joining of competitors from USA and abroad marking the annual International arrival of the European summer. The race had two clear stars, with Spain’s Susak Molinero leading the 9km course from the start and being only challenged by eventual winner Fiona Wylde. The two paddled together the whole race with Fiona getting the better of Susak in a frantic sprint to the line. In 3rd place French powerhouse Olivia Piana finished solid in front of her home crowd. Also impressive was Italian Chiara Nordio (Starboard) that came clear in 4th place. The last step of the podium was a fierce battle between local favorite Melanie Lafenetre and also French compatriot Fanny Tessier (425PRO) with the two finishing 5th & 6th. Behind them Siri Schubert from Switzerland and Hanna Leni Krah from Germany were very close to the pace to finish 7th and 8th. A very impressive 16year old Junior from Spain Sheila Sirvent (Starboard) was also part of the chasing draft group and finish a very impressive 9th place and won the Junior Elite as well. The last spot of the coveted Top10 went to Laura Dal Pont (Starboard) from Italy that was also 2nd in the Junior.
In the Men’s race Australian powerhouse and two time EuroTour champion Michael Booth (Starboard) started as the clear favorite. However New Caledonian Titouan Puyo (NSP) made a bold move on the second half of the race where a few bumps were on offer to overturn things and establish 150m gap by the end of the section with an aggressive line and proving once again why he’s regarded as one of the best downwind specialists in the world. Michael however came back in the attack on the final stages of the race and caught Titou again with the two paddling together briefly until the last kilometer were Michael finally broke the gap to claim a very impressive win.
On 3rd place and not far from the pace came Ty Judson (NSP) from Australia who shows clears signs that this year he’s ready for big things. Frenchman Martin Vitry (SIC) and Bruno Hasulyo (Lightcorp) had a great sprint to the finish line to finish 4th and 5threspectively in a great result for the Frenchman. The next three finishers were just 6 seconds apart in total showcasing how tight the Elite racing has become nowadays: Frenchman Ludovic Teulade (Oxbow) 6th, our winner from last week Italian Claudio Nika 7th and his compatriot Bruno Giordano (SIC) 8th had an epic finish. Less than 20” after also another standout from Italy Olympic Windsurfer Federico Esposito finished 9th and the other Teulade brother Jeremy (Oxbow) closed the coveted Top10.
After a short pause, we had a great kids race were a large group of young kids were separated in beginner group and experied group saw lots of participation and cheers from the spectators at the beach.
In the afternoon saw a nice closing ceremony with the Major of Villefranche-sur-Mer and a. The evening followed with the projection of a surf movie and the Fort . We really want to thank Martin Letourneur and Clement Laot and all the fantastic team of volunteers of the Azur Paddle Days team for an epic job all weekend; surely the first event of many.
Azur Paddle Days results
Azur Paddle Days video