The very first Lyon Open SUP took place the weekend of September 10-11 2011 on the Rhone river right in the center of France’s second largest city. The top French, British and Swiss SUP paddlers were among the 80 participants. In addition to the race events, there was an exhibit featuring the leading Stand Up Paddle brands.

The schedule of events consisted of a mix of spectacular short distance races, a long distance race, relays, SUP “wake”surf and even a concert.  All of the above took place on the Rhone river.

A steady South wind made the races even more challenging and technical. The racers had to adapt their boards to the river’s current as well as to the wind. These conditions forced even the best paddlers to use all their energy and experience to find the right trajectories.

At the first start-off, E.T. demonstrated the extent of his talent by winning his first victory. The Swiss champion Steve Fleury. placed 10th in the 1st race, but from then on, kept improving his results to take 7th place in the 2nd race and 6th place in the 3rd and 4th races.

The 3rd race was a 12km long distance course a round trip run up the Rhone and back. From the start, Eric Terrien, Gaetan Sene, Didier Leniel and Greg Closier were out in front. They stayed more or less together until 2 km before the finish. Then with a burst of energy, Eric.Terrien. pushed out in front and went on to win his 3rd victory well ahead of the others.

We spoke to Eric about the race in Speyer, Germany on Sunday. He told us that he had learned a lot about racing on rivers in the Bordeaux race where Gaetan Sene hat beat him by choosing a smarter route. Eric’s top tips for racing rivers: When you go upstream, paddle on the inside, when you go downstream, paddle on the outside (river will be flowing faster there) and when approaching bridges, paddle towards them behind the pillars to benefit from the currents.

Here is a video of the event and and interview with Gaetan:

Robert Etienne, for his part, manager for Eric Terrien and Steve Fleury, 50 this year, finished the long distance race placing 16th. A solid performance by Robert as he too battled the elements and participated in all 4 races, finishing in an honorable 15th place overall.


For those Stand Up Paddlers who like SUPing on river waves, we hear that, depending on the water level, there is also a nice wave somewhere in that area on Rhone River. It’s a very fierce wave called “Hawaii sur Rhone”. It has been mastered on Kajaks and Surfboards, not sure if someone every dared to SUP-surf on it….

The next Event;  Battle of the Paddle California September 24-25th, is the largest SUP event of the year, as sort of World Championship of SUP, where Eric Terrien will participate for the 3rd consecutive year against tough competition from the Us. Congratulations to all winners and good luck for BOP!

Open SUP Race Lyon France results:

  1. Eric Terrien
  2. Gaetan Sene
  3. Didier Leneil
  4. Greg Closier
  5. Renaud Noyelle