Princess Charlene brings Riviera Water Bike Challenge to Monaco

Princess Charlene. Photo: Kasia Wandycz/Palais Princier
Princess Charlene has been training in Monaco on the Schiller S1 water bike since Christmas. Photo: Kasia Wandycz/Palais Princier

In a world premier sporting event, Monaco will host the Riviera Water Bike Challenge (RWBC) on Sunday, June 4, 2017, in support of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation.

Leaving the port of Nice and heading east to arrive at the prestigious Monaco Yacht Club, 40 participants will make up 10 international teams pedalling Schiller S1 water bikes in a 21-kilometre relay race. There will be two sports personalities per team plus two places available for amateurs, to be selected by raffle on March 24.

The Schiller S1 water bike, developed by American Judah Schiller, reportedly on a dare, “uses an optimised propeller, proprietary gear box and Gates Carbon Drive belts”. It’s essentially a bike atop of parallel hulls, much like a catamaran, with a 2-foot (0.6 metre) wide frame. In calm waters, the average speed is 8 mph, although pros can reach more than 10 mph.

Mr Schiller attended the Monaco Yacht Show two years ago with a prototype of the human-powered watercraft that happened to catch the eye of Gareth Wittstock.

Mr Wittstock, who is also involved in this month’s South Africa-Monaco Rugby Exchange, eventually took the Schiller S1 water bike out for a spin at Larvotto Beach. He was hooked.

He came up with the idea of the first-ever water bike relay race, a fundraiser, with all of the proceeds to go to his sister’s charity, the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, established in 2012 to educate children in water safety and provide swimming lessons.

Monies raised from the Riviera Water Bike Challenge will go towards the relocation of the Monegasque Pavilion from the Expo Milano 2015 to Loumbila, Burkina Faso, where it will be reconstructed as a first aid and CPR training complex.

This project, a joint partnership with the Foundation, the Monaco Red Cross and the Burkinabe Red Cross, will include an Aquatic Rescue Center, as financed by the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, to allow the training of “rescuers and lifeguards from Burkina Faso and other countries in the region”. Director of Aquatic Rescue Center of Monaco, Pierre Frolla, an ambassador to the Foundation, as well as four-time freediving world record holder, will oversee the development.

The mission will include a water-safety programme and swimming lessons available to the thousand local high school students, many of whom have never had an opportunity to be in a pool, but are often at risk of drowning during floods.

Princess Charlene. Photo: Kasia Wandycz/Palais Princier
Princess Charlene. Photo: Kasia Wandycz/Palais Princier

To bring attention to the Riviera Water Bike Challenge, Princess Charlene will be hosting a benefit gala, her first in fact, on Friday, March 24, at the Monaco Yacht Club.

In addition to an evening in the company of the Princely couple and prominent sports personalities, several spots to participate in the inaugural June relay will be raffled off, as well as the ten Schiller S1 bikes that will be raced on the day. There are a limited number of gala tables available in three packages: Ruby, Sapphire, and Diamond. To reserve, contact rwbc2017@gmail.com

A test day is planned for April at the Monaco Yacht Club, where people can drop by to see the Schiller S1.

Christos Fiotakis, who represented Greece in the 100m sprints and now runs Elite Fitness Monaco, with a clientele that includes Felipe Massa, raves about the S1 water bike. “My thighs exploded,” he told Monaco Life.

Article first published March 2, 2017.

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