Coming from the seas, the stand-up paddle is developing little by little in fresh water. On our territory, the waters of the Tarn offer an ideal setting for this practice.
Paddling while enjoying the surrounding landscapes is what this type of activity offers. To practice it, several opportunities are available to you, but the simplest according to Pierre Toussaint, stand-up paddle instructor, is to deal with an equipment rental organization. “You come, the staff puts everything at your disposal, it’s ideal. In addition, we often come to give lessons, so by taking it a few days in advance, you can be accompanied by an instructor.”
Today, he is going to Creissels, to the premises of Evolution 2, with whom he has been working for several years. “I am an external service provider, I go to different places in the Tarn and I accompany clients on outings to several places”, he says. Here, the organization specializing in motorized boat rides, offers ten stand-up paddleboards. But the growing enthusiasm around this practice could encourage rental companies to develop their offer. This is indicated by Martin, one of the employees of the structure. “We are mainly limited by storage, if we could, we would have a lot more because it works a lot with customers.”
An essential framework during the first outings, this sport having its share of techniques to master. Not to mention river navigation, much more dangerous than it seems. “The current is sometimes quite strong, you can quickly lose control and end up stuck on stones or a tree stump”warns Pierre Toussaint.
Once the safety instructions have been heard, it’s time to prepare. In addition to the board, the athlete’s equipment is obviously completed by the paddle, an essential tool for advancing in the waters, but also by a helmet, a life jacket and closed shoes.
On your marks, get set, paddle!
The fateful moment is approaching, that of the launch. Getting started seems particularly difficult, but Pierre Toussaint is there to reassure the most novices. “Just come and put your knees in the center of the board, everything will be fine, the device is more stable than it looks.” And the expert is not mistaken. The tool that one might think treacherous is rather reassuring, the balance being quite easily found, even standing.
The initiation begins in the body of water of Creissels, a place where the Tarn is particularly calm, ideal for apprehending the waters and giving your first paddle strokes. “The key is the front-to-back balance, indicates Pierre Toussaint. To stay stable, it’s important to paddle regularly, it’s the only part of us in direct contact with the water, we have to use it as a crutch.”
Once the basics of navigation have been mastered, the instructor then suggests a ride down the river. This is where the activity takes on its full meaning. In the middle of the water, calm reigns and by overlooking this expanse, we obtain completely different points of view. “That’s the whole advantage of stand-up paddle, we do sports but at the same time we take a lot of time to appreciate things and to contemplate”, relates Pierre Toussaint, taking advantage of the moment. It should be added that the route is ideal, with a length of 7.5 km, you pass under the Viaduct and reach the town of Peyre, classified among the most beautiful villages in France.
However, some technical passages punctuate the outing. The crossing of the rapids makes the balance more precarious, with a few falls in the key, the best way to cool off. “The water level is making things even more difficult at the moment, needle one who is also responsible for a stand-up paddle club. You have to be even more precise in your maneuvers to preserve the condition of the board and avoid getting hurt.” Once at the end, the experience seems even more satisfying, with only one desire, to get back on your board and extend the adventure.
And if you want to go…
The premises of Evolution 2 are located rue de la Fontaine in Creissels, five minutes from Millau. On site, the employees of the structure will provide you with the desired equipment and instructions. The outing, including an initiation on the body of water, then a descent of 7.5 km costs 22 €. To contact Pierre Toussaint, go to his Tarn water race/SUP academy Millau website.