Standing tall on the River Seine

It was a cold Sunday morning in Paris, but that did not bother spectators gathered along the River Seine for the Nautic SUP Paris Crossing.

The event, said to be the largest stand-up paddle race in the world, had 700 contestants, both professional and amateur, taking part this year.

It was a testament to the growing popularity of the sport. Said to be an offshoot of surfing, stand-up paddle boarding requires participants to stand on their boards and use a paddle to move through water.

As is traditional, the Nautic SUP Paris Crossing race started near the National Library of France, and ended at the docks of Javel Bas.

Contestants could choose between two courses: The leisure course, which was about 11km long, or the pro course, which stretched for 13.5km and came with the added challenge of completing a lap around the Ile de la Cite and the Ile Saint-Louis, the river's two islands.

From the more than 1,300 people who had registered this year, organisers used a lottery system to award the 700 slots available.

The race's acclaim rests not only on the physical challenge it poses, but also the unique opportunity it provides contestants to travel down the Seine, surrounded by some of the city's iconic landmarks, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2017, with the headline 'Standing tall on the River Seine'. Print Edition | Subscribe