‘Un Ocean de Sommets’ is available to watch for FREE for the next two weeks at the bottom of the page.
THE STREAM PREMIERE: VALENTIN HENOT’S INCREDIBLE OCEAN-CROSSING SAILING ADVENTURE
As Valentin Henot explained to The Paddler’s Pod, which you can listen to by clicking here, it was a passing idea that ended up changing his life forever.
Growing up in France, the ocean had always captivated his imagination – that’s part of the reason he fell in love with surfski paddling – but there was a still an attraction deeper than what downwinds could provide.
Sailing around the world was a dream that seemed bigger than reality.
But on an unassuming visit back home while he was living in South Africa, that dream quickly came to life.
“I think I came back home for Christmas or Easter and my older brother who I hadn’t seen for years and years was there too,” he explained to Sam and Macca.
“I told him that I had been looking at boats, just to have a dream and think of something different, and we saw a boat we really liked and from there we just made a plan in two hours.
“A week later we bought the boat.
“It was very random, but it was amazing.”
That’s an understatement.
Val is known to surfski paddlers all over the world, but few would realise the almost unbelievable life that he’s already lived at the age of 26.
It took him and his brother around four months to get the boat moving.
“It had holes in the boat and was in a really crappy condition.”
But once they did, the adventures began.
First, they sailed north to Norway for months of ski mountaineering.
“Basically, we were entering the boat in the fjord, taking the dingy to shore, climbing mountains then skiing down,” he says.
“Then we went to Iceland and did some paragliding and climbing on glaciers.”
His exploration had to take a brief break – Valentin had qualified to represent France at the 2015 ICF World Championships, and despite his less than ideal preparation, he finished just outside the Under 23 medals in an extremely competitive field.
From there, he flew back to Portugal and the good times continued.
“We just had an incredible journey through the west coast of Africa, all along the coast,” he recalls.
“Beautiful venues where we could go hiking and surfing every day.”
They then crossed the North Atlantic to bottom of the Carribeans.
“We hopped from island-to-island all the way north to Cuba, then sailed back home from there.”
It sounds like smooth-sailing, but the voyage wasn’t that straight-forward.
“Every crossing we did we got smashed… properly smashed,” Henot says.
“On the way back from Greenland, the boat capsized… when we crossed the North Sea between Scotland and Norway we had a storm with 80 knot winds and 10 metre waves crashing onto the boat.
“In this moment, you think, ‘Oh wow, this is out of control.’
“You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Of course, they survived – and have the documentary to prove it.
‘Un Ocean de Sommets’ is the feature film that follows the Henot brothers incredible voyage, and in partnership with The Paddler, has been made available to watch for free for the next two weeks.
Boasting production of the highest quality, the film celebrates everything that we, as a surfski community, love about both the ocean and the bond that ties us together.
“Sailing to me is a lot like the paddling world… but you just don’t really meet people again” Valentin says.
“When you turn up to a mooring place, there’s a 90% chance five minutes later people will come to your boat for a drink or invite you to dinner… it’s a very social thing.
“There’s a lot of meeting up on boats, spending time together and hanging out… it’s something amazing.”
The film can be watched with English subtitles, available in the closed captions menu.