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De l'Allier à la Loire, United Ladies 2021

We are resharing the article about the paddle on the Loire last year as we mistakenly clipped it short.

United ladies 2021 is the challenge taken up by 31 paddlers from 5 to 8 August. This superb collective experience, which combines surpassing oneself, group cohesion and immersion in the heart of nature, took the paddlers from Vichy to La Charité sur Loire.

Impossible to paddle on dragons’ boats, too rigid and fragile for the sandbanks of the Allier and the Loire. So, it was in a c9 canoe that we warmed up our shoulders and tortured our buttocks. In France the summer was very wet, so we were all afraid of being under the rain during our stay. In the end, the weather was very kind, with occasional (heavy) rain during the day, but never at night, nor at meal times.

It seems that the super team on the ground, in addition to all their talents, could manage the whims of the sky. While our paddlers and their coxswains were discovering the wild fauna and the quietness of the Allier, the stewards prepared the midday and evening meals, set up the camp, made sure that everyone found their luggage when they arrived at the end of the day, filmed the day's events discreetly and prepared surprises in places full of history.

Here, everything is thought out so that we feel good, out of time and out of worries about organisation. And for those who have some pain to soothe, Hala and her Chinese medicine are there to help us.

On the first evening, the day before the departure, after the usual speeches, the dragons wake up and have a drink. It's a bit of an observation round, the discovery of new faces, and already the feeling that we are going to live an extraordinary experience. Because contrary to what some people might think, "this is not a course for women with breast cancer, it is a human adventure for living women".

Very quickly, the paddlers and staff are like members of a large and beautiful family who meet or discover each other.

After a good night's sleep, it's the beginning of the adventure on the water for 4 days. Everything happens on the water as if we knew each other and were used to sailing together. Depending on the programme set up by the organisation team, the stages can vary from 10 to 30 km, the objective being to have fun on the water, to discover the regions we cross and that no one gets hurt. At the finish line, according to the connected watches, we will have covered just under 200 km. The distance has been revised to compensate for the lack of training due to the confinement. But the pleasure of living this experience, of recharging our batteries, of being face to face with ourselves, has been increased tenfold.

We look forward to the 2022 edition.

In conclusion, as one of us said: "With moments like this I touch real life".

Some figures:

  • 1 film (that will soon be available for viewing)

  • 5 representatives of the IBCPC

  • 8 countries represented

  • 11 nationalities

  • 17 ground crew members (including the 4 coxswains)

  • 31 paddlers

  • 200 kilometres

  • 3,139,246 paddle strokes