When you get the chance to see the Vezere River in Treignac you understand why it was decided to hold the first ever ICF world titles here way back in 1959.

The area is so beautiful  it makes perfect sense to showcase it to the world. Sadly there’s only been one other world championships held here since 1959, and that was in 2000.

But the world’s best wildwater paddlers are back on the Vezere River this week for what really is a great celebration. It’s the first full world championships, meaning it combines both sprint and classic races, since 2018.

The French, of course, have known about the majesty of this stretch of water forever. As Felix Bouvet points out, its like a second home to nearly all serious French paddlers.

“Every French guy here knows this course really well,” he said.

“We have a lot of races here, our national races and of course international races with world cups in 2019 and 2021. So we know it really well and we love to paddle here.”

He underlined how much he loves the venue by posting the second quickest time in the men’s K1 to  be the leading Frenchman going into the final, with one eye on a possible podium in front of a home crowd.

“It would be nice to be a world champion anywhere, but of course here in France it’s something higher, something really special,” he said.

First-time paddlers on the Vezere, like Australia’s Harry Langley, say these types of venues are what makes wildwater canoeing so special. He used to be a track athlete, made the switch to wildwater four years ago, and now can’t believe his luck.

“It’s a dream come true that I’m here right now,” Langley said.

“It’s my first time in Europe, before this I’d never experienced anything like this. You get to come to beautiful places like this, paddle beautiful rivers like this.”

Manon Hostens has paddled around the world, combining her love of wildwater with a passion for sprint that has taken her to two Olympic Games for France.

Last weekend she competed at the ICF canoe sprint world cup in Poznan,. Barely had her kayak left the water before she was racing across Europe to compete in the sport that has brought her seven world titles.

“I love this, and I love racing here,” Hostens said on Friday.

“I am happy to be here, there are a little more waves than in the flatwater, so it’s not so easy for me. But the conditions are good and there’s a lot of water on the river, so it’s great for the beginning of a world champs.

“I want to be here, but I need a better run if I want to win a medal.”

It’s no secret Covid has put severe pressure on all sports, and wildwater is not alone in struggling to attract more countries and more athletes. But the camera never lies, and wildwater’s biggest assets are definitely their locations.

Who wouldn’t want to spend a weekend somewhere like this?  

Treignac scenic beauty

Wildwater Canoeing
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