NEW IBERIA, La. --- Three days of kayak and canoe racing for recreational paddlers and pro racers alike begin in Port Barre, at the headwaters of Bayou Teche, on Friday, Oct. 5.
Tour du Teche is an annual staged race down the entire length of this historic bayou to Berwick, on the Atchafalaya River, 135 miles from start to finish. Now in its ninth year, Tour du Teche has spawned numerous side races which allow less committed, more modestly equipped weekend paddlers to compete along with world-class racers from all over the nation and beyond. There are even races for the classic Cajun pirogue and the popular stand-up paddle board or SUP.
Tour du Teche 135, the main race, is run in three segments: Port Barre to St. Martinville, 49 miles on Friday; St. Martinville to Franklin, 59 miles on Saturday; and Franklin to Berwick 27 miles on Sunday. Entrants in the Pro Race Division compete for serious cash prizes, those in the Voyageur Race Division for trophies, bragging rights and pure adventure.
For voyageurs, or recreational paddlers, there’s also the option to choose from several one-day races, some shorter than the day’s Tour du Teche segment but all qualifying as paddling marathons.
One-day races are:
- Acadian – Port Barre to St. Martinville, 49 miles, Oct. 5
- Crawfish – Port Barre to Breaux Bridge, 30 miles, Oct. 5
- Sugar – St. Martinville to Franklin, 59 miles, Oct. 6
- Hot Sauce – St. Martinville to New Iberia, 24 miles, Oct. 6
- Black Bear – New Iberia to Franklin, 35 miles, Oct. 6
- Oil & Gas – Franklin to Berwick, 27 miles, Oct. 7
The Tour du Teche family of races also includes a 275-mile, round-the-clock marathon in March from Shreveport-Bossier City to Butte La Rose in the heart of the Atchafalaya Basin, races on the beautiful Ouachita River and on the Teche and Lower Atchafalaya River at other times of the year, and sprints around buoys at Breaux Bridge’s Parc des Ponts for youths. Tour du Teche has served to introduce Louisiana’s scenic waterways and unique culture to visitors from around the world.