SUP Women: Céline Guesdon
France’s Céline Guesdon would’ve never guessed she’d be spending her workdays on the water. But, after taking up SUP a few years back, and beginning to dominate French and international races shortly thereafter, it was an easy transition for Guesdon to leave the office and begin teaching SUP on the Mediterranean Sea. Continuously climbing the world ranks of SUP racing—recently taking the Long Distance win at the SUWS’ Sieravuori SUP Masters in Finland —Guesdon gaining notoriety in the world of SUP racing, and she’s just getting started. —SC
SUP: Tell us about your athletic background.
CG: I am a French Champion and claimed fourth place in the Long Distance Race at the ISA World Championship in Sayulita this year. I discovered this sport four years ago in Cannes, France. Before I [was] practicing some running, but not at a high level. I discovered SUP with friends, [but] long before trying SUP, I’d been intrigued by the people I saw ‘walking on the water.’ I looked at them every day in the bay of Cannes, while following the coast to go to work when I was a graphic designer. Now, I am an SUP teacher.
How did you get involved in standup paddling?
My first try was on an inflatable SUP and it conquered me! But, I was curious, and when I learned there were SUP competitions, I decided to try it. After that, I’ve never stopped! This sport changed my life—it was a revelation. SUP can become addicting very fast, in the best sense of the word, because it brings a lot: freedom, escape, good psychological and physiological perspectives.
How popular is the sport in Cannes and along the French Riviera?
Cannes is a Mediterranean city of the French Riviera, where quiet water lends itself well to the practice of this sport. SUP develops year by year, and in summer, many tourists learn it. You can explore Cap d’Antibes, or the Lerins Islands. Conditions can be different; [there are] not a lot of waves, but you can have great downwinders and surfing sessions on beautiful spots.
There are some groups of standup paddlers, and a well-known one is Paddling in Antibes, where you can rent boards too. Lots of paddlers discovered raceboards and are coming to regional competitions. I’d organized some clinics there with Jean-Denis Mouchons of Paddling in Antibes, with good results and feedback.
You won one of France’s largest SUP races last year, the 2014 Nautic SUP Paris Crossing, on the iconic Seine River; tell us what that win meant for you.
Winning is a special feeling; when you are competitor, this is an accomplishment, a way to be strong, a way of surpassing, of pushing away limits. Paris is a special event and a great success. Paddling on the river is very different than to be on the sea. The Seine is choppy and can have big currents.
What was it like to compete for your country in two events at your first ISA World Championship?
My first participation to the ISA World Championship was in 2014 in Nicaragua. This event was for me the big one and I had a lot of pressure. I did not have the results as I wanted and was disappointed. With hindsight and one year after, this experience served a lot to me, and allowed me to approach 2015 ISA World Championships in a different way, by being relaxed plus, with less pressure. I finished fourth in the long distance, but I am very happy and hope to be on the French team next year to live out another championship and offer France a beautiful medal.
What has SUP taught you?
I take advantage of the present moment. SUP is, for me, a way of life.
More SUP Women.
More French paddlers…only, these guys are total goofballs.