With Operation Sylver Aventures, a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome linked to deadly battles embarks on an incredible challenge: connecting Roanne to Saint Nazaire by paddling 750 km on the Loire in 5 days. A record-breaking dive in the wild Loire in a kayak.
“The Loire in winter is extremely powerful. The flow is impressive. I sail 18 hours a day, so partly at night, it’s nice. This night navigation reinforces the impression of being part of these elements present around me. It’s sublime with the moon, the mist, the water is clearer than the rest. Without light, it’s fabulous“.
Pascal D. combines enthusiasm and physical achievement since his departure in a kayak on the Loire this Monday January 10. Reached by phone at the time of his arrival in the Center-Val de Loire region, he hopes to arrive in Saint Nazaire on Saturday January 15 in the morning.
Like a commando operation
Pascal D., a member of the parachute commandos, was involved in all of France’s battles abroad. A career in the Air Force commandos that gave him great satisfaction before post-traumatic stress syndrome caught up with him.
Two years after witnessing the “excruciating” death of one of his comrades in combat action, he is obsessed with this murderous scene and his health suffers. The army recognizes him as wounded in operation and grants him a year and a half of care and convalescence. Unable to sit around doing nothing for so long, Pascal D. explains the idea of his challenge as follows:
Especially avoid being a year and a half going around in circles, lamenting my fate, so much time to do nothing would be worse than anything.
It was to move forward that he embarked on a long and meticulous preparation for a long-distance Loire raid in total autonomy. Physical preparation, search for a partner, preparation of equipment and location of the course will reveal his thirst for physical commitment, his need for nature and his entrepreneurial spirit. It should be noted that the practice of kayaking was almost unknown to him when he embarked on this adventure.
We had met him in the spring and he had then explained his preparation and training to us.
When it is pointed out to him, that apart from the kayak, his challenge resembles a commando operation, Pascal D. recognizes that he is not in an unknown universe: “I find a lot of reflex in studying the course, the weather, difficult points to cross, risk management, how to reconcile performance and safety, progress in difficult surroundings, total autonomy. There I am alone, deliver to myself, without assistance“.
A parallel on which the kayaker does not dwell, preferring to turn the page on the commando years. Pascal willingly talks about his quest for contact with nature and the enthusiasm of his 24 partners.
The wind will carry him … from Orleans
Ready for several weeks, Pascal D. examines the weather forecast and the evolution of the flow of the Royal River to find the ideal conditions to get started. For the choice of the moment of his departure on Monday morning, it was the wind that won the day. The Loire flood last week offered an interesting flow, but a strong westerly headwind reduced this advantage to nothing. It was in the middle of last week that he bet on January 10 for a departure.
“During the Loire flood, with a headwind of 60 km / hour, I would have backed off with my little kayak. I had been chomping at the bit for 10 days and the announcement of the rains this weekend gave me the hope of a good water level. I knew that I would have a little headwind from Roanne to Orléans, which is confirmed, but the wind must turn when I’m in Orléans ”.
“If I have the wind behind Orléans in Saint Nazaire, it’s interesting with a sustained current without being at the level of a flood. A good flow and a good wind, that’s fine with me“.
The journey that Pascal D.
750 kilometers paddling
To follow his trail on the Loire through the Center Val de Loire region and the Pays de Loire, Pascal D. publishes photos and video on an Instagram account. If he appreciates being alone in nature, he is also delighted by all the encouragement encountered in his path.