The 135 mile race will include a stop in Franklin Saturday evening. The public can await the paddlers' arrival Saturday around 5 p.m. and the opening ceremony Sunday at 7 a.m.
TDT paddle race kicks off the first Friday in October
Tour du Teche 135 is an annual race for canoes, kayaks, pirogues and SUP’s along the entire length of Bayou Teche, a total of 135 miles.
It includes small sections of Bayou Courtableau and the Atchafalaya River. It’s a three-day staged race beginning the first Friday in October.
There are two classes of Tour du Teche 135: Pro Race, in which some of the fastest boats and paddlers from around the world vie for cash prizes; and Voyageur Race, or recreational, where the participants challenge themselves as well as each other for trophies, bragging rights and adventure. Voyageurs may opt for shorter races held in conjunction with Tour du Teche 135.
Tour du Teche 135 was begun in 2010 with the dual purpose of introducing the beautiful Teche Country to paddlers and other eco-tourists from beyond and to illustrate for its residents the recreational, aesthetic, cultural and economic value of Bayou Teche. Since the race’s inception, these two groups, visitors and local folk, have met and mingled in happy expositions of music and cuisine that give Tour du Teche 135 it’s reputation as moveable party as well as a tough series of paddle marathons.
Organizers say th atTour du Teche has been an economic engine for communities along Bayou Teche, a regional tourist attraction, and an effective program for promoting and protecting the bayou as a natural and cultural resource. Since the race began, Bayou Teche has been designated a National Paddle Trail by the U.S. Park Service and a National Water Trail by the U.S. Interior Department. The Chitimacha Nation has built a new park on the bayou. There are two commercial kayak liveries on the Teche, and government-funded kayak launch pads at various spots. The colorful boats are much more in evidence, in the water and on roof racks, and with them come a high grade of tourists, well-heeled and ecologically sensitive.
Locals too are taking more pride in Bayou Teche. The TECHE Project (www.techeproject.org), which spawned the Tour du Teche, conducts periodic clean-ups of the bayou. The City of St. Martinville has created a bayou-side park as a venue for festivals as well as a finish/start for the Tour. The Town of Leonville built a launch ramp that has become a focal point of the town. The City of Berwick has turned the Tour du Teche finish into its annual festival. We now have a launch ramps in many of the towns we visit. Breaux Bridge, Loreauville, New Iberia, Charenton, and Franklin have excellent viewings spots at the boat ramps, boat docks, and parks. Organizers say, “We’re linking the old steamboat towns together again.”