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Antoine Petit

Sports: Dragon boat, V1, OC1, OC6

Years of paddling: 2014-2018

Favourite paddling team: False Creek Premier

“When you want something in life, reach out and grab it”

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Q: What do you enjoy most about paddling?

A: If I compare each discipline in which I’ve competed since I was a kid, paddling is the only sport where I could so easily appreciate the beauty of my surroundings, wherever I was. I’ve seen belugas, dolphins, turtles, and just the scenery of any coast I paddled by! Connected by community and nature!

Q: How has paddling and the paddling community affected your life?

A: I lived in Vancouver for five years and I paddled for five years. I started to compete in races in Vancouver, on the Island, Washington State and then overseas. Race after race, place after place, I was meeting new people that enriched my life with new connections and experiences. I can say that unconsciously, I dedicated my life to that sport, and just like that, five years passed!

Q: How active were you before COVID-19 hit?

A: I traded paddling for cycling to discover Japan by bicycle and more recently the northern part of Europe.

I came back to Vancouver from Japan. I lived there for a year. I was eager to train competitively with my former teammates in False Creek Racing Canoe Club, like the old days… 

Q: How did you initially cope with the crisis and what are you doing now?

A: I did  two or three team practices, and then COVID started. What to say?

I am lucky enough to own a V1 and have friends to exchange boats whenever we felt like it, so it wasn’t that bad. Paddlers who own a boat should feel very lucky and appreciate life in a time when many people don’t have this chance to be out there!

Q: Have you learned anything positive about yourself or your community as a result of the crisis?

A: Safety is a priority and each of us have a role in not spreading the virus. Technology nowadays allows us to remain connected to the community despite the crisi. There are few options for being outside and remaining connected to nature without endangering others and ourselves, so we just have to put our paddling aspirations on pause for a little bit, adapt our habits to our current situation, and then we’ll resume our old paddling activities whenever the time is right!

Q: When it comes to paddling, is there a person, event or team that has a special memory for you?

A: Many of them come to mind for different reasons, but I’ll choose the Pailolo Challenge, in 2015.

(A 42-kilometre OC6 paddling race from Maui to  Moloka’i)

I was supposed to iron the race (a single crew for the entire race), but my parents came to visit me from France for a month just two months prior to the race. Less training volume resulted in me doing the Change race instead. A few of us at FCRCC teamed up with some Bellingham boys and we had so much fun! Keep in mind, it was only my second paddling season ever so, going on a trip to Hawaï for the first time and paddling with some boys I barely knew between two Islands in the middle of the Pacific was a highlight in my life.

Q: Is there a coach or mentor you’d like to recognize?

A: Everyone knows Kamini Jain. But when I joined FCRCC and started paddling,  I could barely understand and speak English. I didn’t know her.

Six months passed and I learned about her past achievements and her contribution to the sport. I value every piece of advice she has for anyone and will constantly question my technique to be more efficient. A coach once, a mentor forever, now a friend!

Q: In terms of paddling, what are you looking forward to the most when normalcy returns?

A: Circumstances made me return back to Normandy, France. I haven’t paddled since August so I can’t wait to be out there in an OC1, facing Bowen Island in English Bay and just breathing and watching all around. Of course, I’m looking forward to events, friends, the community, new places, new races, more friends.

Happiness has a different taste when it’s shared. I can’t wait to be out there, with all of you!

All proceeds from the 2021 calendar project will support FGPC’s race restart programs.