In 2014 when we sat at the finishing line and saw how few Mistral boards were competing in the 11 Cities Tour and certainly not anywhere near the front runners,…
In 2014 when we sat at the finishing line and saw how few Mistral boards were competing in the 11 Cities Tour and certainly not anywhere near the front runners, it was a day of reckoning which made us resolve to change this. Mistral, Dutch owned and involved in SUP, with one of the premier races of the world on its doorstep, had to step up and get involved. Indeed it proved to be not just a seminal moment for Mistral’s place in the SUP sport, but indeed our actions from that moment on assisted in no small way, to elevate the 11 Cities event, from relatively unknown, into a truly international event of status.
Steve West took on the task to develop a race winning board for the event. Working with shaper Chris Diplock in the UK and paddler Ryan James, the basic shape was created and a mere two prototypes created, named the Vortex. Ryan used an early prototype during the UK 2015 season and by the start of the 11 Cities event in September of that year, we were confident in the boards capabilities, speed and handling.
Added to this, we knew we would also need two world class riders to add to the mix if we were to do well, one male and one female rider. We enlisted very probably the world’s best outrigger canoe paddler from Tahiti, Steeve Teihotaata and from the USA a relatively unknown, but talented Seychelle Hattingh. When race day came, both Steeve and Seychelle had spent no more than an hour familiarising themselves with the new Vortex.
In this year the Hasulyo brothers competed for the first time and within just a few short miles of the start of the event, they were leading and working together in true drafting and team racing fashion. It seemed on their new Starboard boards and the with this tactic, the race was over before it had really started. This tactic to the event may have been new, but in a twist of fate, Steeve quickly formed a working relationship with French paddler, Dode Florent, an alliance which was to prove super fast, as both Steeve and Dode went on to dominate all five days, with Steeve taking line honours for every stage and winning by a margin of some 20 minutes. Meanwhile in the ladies division, Seychelle lead from start to finish and won every stage, doing it tough in having no drafting support. In short Mistral, won both the Men’s and Women’s Five Day Stage Race in a shock result.
For us, it was a genuine coup d’etat, which rocked the foundations in establishing our footprint as a force to be reckoned with. With a mere two international team riders and two boards, the achievement was truly something to be proud of, achieved in such a short time frame. From this moment, Mistral has become strongly associated with the event and indeed continued to innovate board designs to suit and indeed dominate in key areas of the event.