Expect nothing and be prepared for anything.
It’s the only way you can be ready for the Waterman Tahiti Tour, a five part series of events designed to test your mental and physical capacity. Each stop of the tour includes a standup paddleboard race, a prone paddleboard race, a distance swim and a combo event that combines all of the disciplines, all in a weekend.
So, not really sure what to expect, we made our way from Tahiti to Mo’orea for the third event. The event got started on Saturday morning with one of the most challenging 14K standup paddle events I have ever been a part of. The wind was directly offshore with 35-40 knot gusts coming out of the two big bays that we passed on the way to Coco beach, a motu that sits just off the North West corner of the island. On several occasions during the race, I actually watched big, strong Tahitian guys get physically blown off their boards by the relentless sidewind.
The wind was so strong, in fact, that although it was a physical challenge just to stay on your feet during the race, it was an even bigger mental challenge not to give in to the pain and sit down for a minute.
During races like this one, there is always something to be learned, and the take away for me was just to be present. Instead of focusing on how unpleasant this paddle actually was or worrying about how much farther we had to go, I made an effort to focus on my stroke. Each time I took one, I tried to make sure I was getting the most of it, reassuring myself that if I just kept moving forward, I would eventually get there.
As we approached Coco Island, the sidewind turned into a straight headwind, which to be honest, was almost a relief. At least we were now able to paddle on both sides.
Up next was the 12K prone paddleboard race followed by the distance swim and combo event the next day. Because it includes all the disciplines, the combo event is always my favorite, despite the fact that it happens at the end of a very long weekend.
I love going to Tahiti for these events. Even though there are definitely moments that make me question why I do this to myself, the Tahitians are always so welcoming and helpful to us, and make our time on their islands such a pleasure. The Tahitians are amazing athletes and I am honored to be able to race with them…and the downtime isn’t bad either =).