Tahiti: Seychelle’s SUP and Sailing Adventure Extraordinaire

Ever dreamt of exploring French Polynesia? So has SIC Global Athlete Seychelle. For the majority of her life, she has imagined what it would be like to visit the beautiful islands and sail their waters, and this spring that dream became a reality. Read about her amazing adventure to Tahiti and the neighboring islands below.

This spring I had the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of sailing in the South Pacific. Every year there are a series of international standup paddle races in Tahiti, the Air Tahiti Nui Paddle Royal, the Air France Paddle Festival, and the Tahiti Waterman’s League. I’ve had these races on my radar for a couple for years, but I’ve had the island of Tahiti on my radar for longer than I can even remember.

A little-known fact about me, I hold a USCG 100 ton masters license. My life before SUP was all about sailing. I often dreamt of sailing about the world. Since finding SUP, my dreams are slightly different, but I love the fact that many of the destinations that paddling brings me to are the places I have always wanted to sail. There is a deep connection between my love for sailing and my love for paddling. It’s the SIC Maui motto: “bound by water.” Tahiti could arguably be the birthplace of modern, competitive paddling. Polynesians have been paddling va’a, outrigger canoes, as a mode of transportation for thousands of years. Everywhere you look there are groups of paddlers out training in va’a. It’s more than the national sport, it’s their ancestral heritage.

In an unexpected turn of events, I was badly injured several weeks before our trip and I was not able to compete in either of the races that I was signed up to do. Life happens in mysterious ways and I was not about to cancel a trip to Tahiti simply because I could not compete. Everything else was lined up perfectly. My husband got the time off of work and was just as stoked about the trip as I was.

We chartered a 40ft catamaran sailboat to be our floating, mobile home and sailed to Bora Bora between the SUP events. Our only travel bags were two SIC Maui Air Glide inflatable board bags. These worked perfect! They have wheels for rolling and enough space for a board, pump, snorkel gear, a few articles of clothing (you don’t need much, it’s so bloody hot!) and lots of snacks. I was not sure about finding plant-based protein there, but I was wrong, the shops had everything!

We spent our days boating from one anchorage to another, paddling to shore for explorations, diving in off the boards or boat with our snorkel gear to explore fascinating coral heads, playing with an abundance of sea life like dolphins, sting rays, sharks, and eels! Bora Bora lives up to the hype. We often felt like we had traveled back in time, mind-boggled by the iconic cone shape of the volcanic mountain cliffs with nothing but a sprinkling of shacks along the shore line to indicate human contact. Of course, if you looked the other direction there was no shortage of overwater (overpriced) bungalows, but even these were all tastefully and ecologically constructed. The energy and joy this island exudes felt like a magnet that drew you in. Plus, the Polynesians have got to be some of the happiest, most welcoming people on the planet. We didn’t want to leave.

Back on the main island of Tahiti, we finished our trip with the Air France Paddle Festival. One of my highlights was being a guest commentator for the race with the Paddle League. We also explored caves, blue holes and waterfalls along the coast. The only thing I did not get to do because of my injury - aside from racing - was surfing any of the world class surf breaks that Tahiti has to offer. Guess I will have to come back next year...

I sincerely recommend adding these islands to your paddling destination bucket list.