The intrepid Frenchman departs tomorrow (September 1) on his quest to tackle Southeast Asia’s mighty river on a standup paddle board (SUP), and says he’s “half excited, half anxious about what I will find” on the churning body of water.
He’s carrying three boards for the trip – two custom made hybrids, and a third, inflatable board to use as a spare.
He has also received his custom made paddle, designed to allow swift interchange between kayak and standup paddle.
“I’m very happy with the board. Because it’s a catamaran, it’s very fast and has good stability.”
The board is twice as heavy as a normal SUP, weighing in at around 25kgs, and while this makes it a little heavier to turn and maneuvre, Patrick said the stability provided by this weight will make his task much easier.
“I’ve tried to capsize it, and it’s really very difficult to do. It’s a very stable board.
“The only thing I didn’t try was catching waves. That’s not really the board’s purpose, but it will be interesting to see how it works.”
Patrick has even tested out the board’s weight carrying ability by paddling around Nai Harn with his wife and young daughter on board.
And while he won’t be taking them with him on his journey, he added: “I think stability is the main advantage of this board, and being able to carry a lot of stuff. The board can probably take 100kg plus the rider.”
But his preparation for the arduous journey has been far from ideal.
His board is the first that SUP manufacturer Starboard has moulded from plastic – they usually use fibre. But problems creating the custom-designed mould in New Zealand created some delays, as did customs issues bringing the mould into Thailand.
In all, the setbacks meant Patrick’s board was about two months late in arriving, drastically cutting down his ability to properly prepare with his equipment.
Still, Patrick doesn’t seem too phased, and is confident he is ready to hit the rapids in a few days’ time.
“I could not train on the real board, but that’s been the only real problem. The board is much more stable [than the one I’ve been training on], so it’s very easy to adapt.”
The Frenchman leaves from Phuket tomorrow to make the drive north to Chiang Khan, and will start paddling on September 5 – “Five is my lucky number.” He expects the journey to take between two and four weeks.
Patrick will update his blog daily (conditions permitting) while on his adventure. To follow his progress, visit: supmekong1000.wordpress.com.
The Phuket News is a sponsor of Patrick’s journey.