In the past few years, we've seen American and Australian racers dominate SUP surf contests, distance races and technical sprint courses. But as the sport has grown, and events such as the Bilbao World SUP Challenge and Oléron Standup Paddle Challenge have reached 'must-race' status, a bevy of European paddlers has risen to the challenge, including Casper Steinfath, Leonard Nika and Gaétan Séné on the men's side, and Olivia Piana, Sonni Hönscheid and Manca Notar on the women's.
Another standout talent in the hard-charging Euro set is Eric Terrien. In the past year, the 31-year old Frenchman has scored podium finishes in events worldwide, including victory at the Nautic SUP Crossing in his homeland, second place at the Carolina Cup and second at the Paddle Royal. We recently caught up with "E.T." to talk travel, SUP in France and combining SUP with other watersports. --Phil White
SUP mag: When did you start standup paddling?
Terrien: In 2007 I was in Western Australia surfing and windsurfing. A friend of mine had an SUP board in his shop and I borrowed it for a session. It was a big 12-foot board and I had a lot of fun trying to surf it. It was a good way to stay fit even the flat days. I started to SUP almost every day after work and got totally hooked.
SUP mag: When did the SUP scene in France get popular? And why do you think it’s growing so fast?
Terrien: SUP in France started in 2006-2007. In 2009 we started to see more contests and the first races. The SUP racing scene really took off in 2010. Now, in 2013, we're starting to see a whole new generation of young paddlers ripping in waves and going fast in races. I think that SUP is growing fast in France because many people used to do several watersports at the same time- for example, surfing, windsurfing or kitesurfing. Getting into SUP for those riders is an easy way to spend more time in the water even when weather conditions wouldn’t be good enough for these other sports.
SUP mag: What’s the history of the Jade Paddle Race and your family’s involvement with it?
Terrien: The first race took place in 2012 on the beach where I used to go windsurfing when I was a kid. Not only my family is involved, but also all my friends, and many local people work as volunteers for the event. It's a big party for the village and a perfect event to have fun and warm up for the biggest races taking place later in the season.
SUP mag: How do you deal with traveling so much between Europe and the U.S.?
Terrien: It's not always easy but I guess I get used to it. I like to compete in the U.S. and Hawaii because there are great paddlers and it is important for me to race against them if I want to improve. I try to focus on the biggest events only. The thing I hate the most is to be sitting on a plane for hours or having to spend a night in an airport hotel when I know that at the same time my friends are surfing good waves!
SUP mag: What tips do you have for overcoming soreness and stiff joints after traveling?
Terrien: I am actually pretty bad at it… When I go to a race I want to get on the water as soon as possible after arriving. Before a race I prepare my training program until the race, including more or less rest depending on how I feel. When I go back home I usually take several days to rest, with short, easy sessions of surf or OC1 paddling.
SUP mag: How do you combine your OC4 and OC1 training and racing with SUP?
Terrien: OC4 is for fun to go surfing with my friends at the club “Guisa Action” that is where I do most of my trainings in Fuerteventura. I also use my OC1 a lot for cross training, at least once a week and sometimes more in the off-season or when I take a break from SUP.
SUP mag: What are your favorite spots for SUP surfing in France?
Terrien: I like to SUP surf when I go to Brittany, where there are some good spots with long waves and no crowds. But my favorite place for SUP surfing is the north shore of Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands, where I live.
For more features, click here.