Air France Paddle Festival Stands OUT as 2019 Season Opener for Paddle League

The Paddle League Air France Paddle Festival Elite Race Tahiti
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This past weekend’s Season Opener for The Paddle League, the Air France Paddle Festival on the soft sands and beautiful island that is Tahiti held spills and chills for a premiere event.  A great way to open the 2019 Pro SUP racing season!

Paddle League Air France Paddle Festival Tahiti

Air France Paddle Festival Delivers HOT Racing Competition for 2019

The Air France Paddle Festival held this weekend in its 6th season off the island of Tahiti was an electric event. Under clear skies and perfect weather, Sunova’s raging rider, Yuka Sato won in an arm-wrestle against France’s Olivia Piana in the women’s 24 kilometer elite course. Meanwhile, NSP rider Titouan Puyo delivered the goods to take down the Tahitians after a titanic struggle with 15-year-old stand up paddling sensation Keoni Sulpice.

It was an extraordinary day all around. Tahiti showed it’s home to an extraordinary depth of talent as well as the land of a blazing hot sun.

The Paddle League Air France Paddle Festival - Elite 24km Race (27)

Blazing Competition Under Tahitian Sun at Air France Paddle Festival

In this showcase event, 265 paddlers took to the water for the Air France Paddle Festival’s 6th SUP race event. The main course, a 24-Kilometer Elite race featuring top names in the sport, was broadcast live on national TV as well as streamed live on the Standup Journal website ( where we are proud to bring you the best performance events in the sport of SUP racing.

Tahiti is traditionally home to the richest paddling culture in the world, largely due to its impressive outrigger (“va’a”) history as well as the multitudes of racers who make a name for themselves each year springing out of this live culture teeming with upcoming talent.


The Paddle League Air France Paddle Festival Elite Race Tahiti

Titouan Puyo & Yuka Sato Claim Top Titles in Tahiti

In an Elite 24 Kilometer race that left the crowd standing for the finish and the competitors dropping to their knees at the finish line due to the heat of competition and the hot sun, the Air France Paddle Festival delivered a world class performance for its global live broadcast.  We are so grateful for today’s technology.

In a run to remember, Titouan Puyo showed stamina, strategy and endurance as he wrestled with Enzo Bennett and a young 15-year-old rising champion Keoni Sulpice who left no room for error.  Throughout the course, the three challenged each other through chop, current and the blazing hot Tahitian sun.  Enzo flagged first, dropping off the lead train, leaving Titouan – an accomplished & renowned racing veteran and world class rider – fending for his lead from an upcoming ‘dark horse’ or new rider arising out of the Tahitian lineage.

Titouan held on and broke away in the final 300 meters of the race to win over Keoni Sulpice by a mere 15 seconds. The New Calcedonian gave nothing but praise to this new competitor, saying Keoni gave him every reason to respect and fear the youngster in the future races to come.  An incredible finish that brought the local Tahitians to their feet to see Sulpice at the heels of one of the world’s greatest SUP competitors. Make note of that name in the years to come!

The Paddle League Yuka Sato Air France Paddle Festival Tahiti

Yuka Sato Claims First 2019 Win at Air France Paddle Festival

Runner-rup at the Air France Paddle Festival twelve months ago, Yuka Sato claimed her  crown by holding off the jack-rabbit start of Olivia Piana for the Elite Women’s race. Yuka reeled in the fast-starting Piana by powering though the upwind conditions and set up a commanding lead that would grow to a full twelve minutes by the finish.

Paddling the signature two-piece paddle board design by Sunova, Yuka was all smiles as she finished the race, marking her first major win of the 2019 SUP racing season. Olivia,  forced by customs delays to borrow a board in the final minutes before the race start, competed on an unfamiliar raceboard in order to participate in the 6th annual Air France Paddle Festival. The life of a competitive athlete in the paddling world is full of challenge both in logistics of traveling with equipment as well as conditions to be found on the water. Big respect to both ladies for a stellar finish!

The Paddle League Air France Paddle Festival Tahiti

Open Race & Kids Race Broadcast Live on National Tahitian TV

The heart and soul of the Air France Paddle Festival is the big open race – an 8KM event – known as the Lagoon Race which hosted over 150 paddlers for this singular event.

Ranihei Bonet blitzed the women’s open race, finishing three minutes clear of her nearest rival, while 21-year-old Henere Harrys claimed a hard-fought men’s race ahead of 20-year-old Moehau Swapp. Both of these paddlers would compete well in any elite race, which showcases just how much talent the Tahitians hold in their local lineup.

The Paddle League Air France Paddle Festival Tahiti

The Air France Paddle Festival establishes itself as one of the “New Majors” in the sport of SUP racing by offering a top tier event held in an incredible destination, featuring racing for all levels of competitors as well as attracting strong amateur competition. Anti-doping measures are strictly enforces and, to top it off, there is world-wide live coverage. Stay tuned for more events like this one in the 2019 Paddle League season!

To review of the LIVE STREAM coverage:



# Athlete Time Brand Nation Age
1 Titouan Puyo 2:19:52 NSP/QB New Cal 27
2 Keoni Sulpice 2:20:03 Starboard/QB Tahiti 15
3 Enzo Bennett 2:20:44 425 Tahiti 22
4 Niuhiti Buillard 2:21:33 SIC Tahiti 27
5 Georges Cronsteadt 2:27:00 425 Tahiti 38
6 Yoann Consteadt 2:27:03 425 Tahiti 31
7 Ricky Aitamai 2:28:10 425 Tahiti 27
8 Mathieu Ayard 2:33:57 Starboard Tahiti 26
9 Tiavairau Chang 2:34:05 Starboard Tahiti 18
10 Vincent Goyat 2:35:19 Starboard Tahiti 44



Athlete Time Brand Nation Age
1 Yuka Sato 2:44:33 Sunova Japan 32
2 Olivia Piana 2:56:53 Rogue France 28
3 Hinarii Yiou 3:04:09 425 Tahiti 36
4 Sandrine Berthe 3:08:44 Fanatic France 36
5 Lauriane Bisch 3:11:49 Tahiti 26
6 Haniarii Brillant 3:13:11 425 Tahiti 16
7 Vaimiti Maoni 3:14:29 Tahiti 32
8 Leeloo Desanti 3:16:55 Starboard Tahiti 16
9 Mahia Poroi 3:30:55 Tahiti 18
DNF Susanne Lier F-One Germany 38
DNF Floriane Broustal France 25
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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.