Ze Race - 50km Downwind in Guadaloupe

Tuesday, 16 January 2018 15:59 | Written by 
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The scene - two weeks before Ze Race! The scene - two weeks before Ze Race!

"Why go all the way to Guadeloupe?" I asked Nelo Surfski CEO Oscar Chalupsky.  "We sold a lot of skis there," he replied, "and it's a lot warmer than Porto!"  Oscar Chalupsky leaves his home Portugal on Saturday to fly, via Paris, to the Caribbean to take part in one of the longest downwind races in the world, Ze Race in Guadeloupe. 

And I suspect it's the "downwind" part that's the deciding factor that's attracting him there!

Oscar Chalupsky

This is eighth edition of the event and the second time that Chalupsky has entered.  Last year he was beaten by Nicolas Lambert (France) who came in some 3 1/2 minutes ahead of the Big O - but Chalupsky is quick to point out that he was paddling a Nelo 610, Nelo's introductory plastic surfski, not exactly their top of the range racing boat.  This year he'll be on a 560 racing ski.

And he'll be tough to beat.  Chalupsky, at age 54, is still considered one of the best downwind paddlers on the planet and almost always finished in the top 10 in the 2017 international races (as long as there was wind; his disappointing 15th place in the 2017 Nelo Summer Challenge was at least in part because the sea was flat.)

Oscar Chalupsky

Oscar Chalupsky - Ze Race 2017

Nicolas Lambert

Nicolas Lambert paddles an O'Kréa ski.  He too expects to finish in the top 10 in most races; his best World Series result in 2017 was a 5th at the elite-paddler-packed Nelo Summer Challenge (but as already noted, that was a flat race).

Conditions at Ze Race should be somewhere between the utter calm of the Nelo race and the all-out hectic downwind of the Perth Doctor where Lambert came 15th (out of 260 ultra-competitive, mostly Aussie, chargers).

The long range forecast shows a steady tradewind blowing every single day from now until 25th January and there's every reason to believe it'll be there on race day on the 27th.

Lambert v Chalupsky then and may the best downwinder win!

Nicolas Lambert

Nicolas Lambert on his way to win the 2017 event


Ze Race - course

If you draw a straight line from Petite Terre to Gosier, Google Earth measures around 45km, but factor in deviations off the straight line and most competitors do about 50km, making this one of the longest downwind races in the world.  

Conditions are usually "clean and big," said Chalupsky.  "Like Durban - or Hawaii".  Like Hawaii too, the temperatures are high - with air and sea temperatures both around the 27C mark.  So good hydration is critical.

The race takes place on 27 January, 2018.  Watch the facebook page for links to live tracking.

Race map

(Click here for the race website)

(Click here for the race's Facebook page)

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