November 29, 2021

start of the French surfing championships, a booming sport

The Vendée hosts the French surfing championships, in Les Sables d’Olonne, from this Saturday until Sunday, October 31. The first time was in 1986, already in Les Sables d’Olonne. 500 competitors will compete in nine disciplines. It must be said that surfing is a fashionable sport. It has even been a real explosion in recent years.

There are today 67,000 licensees, a 100% increase in ten years, but according to the French federation, there are about a million practitioners. All ages are affected, as we have seen recently at the Tranche-sur-Mer, in the South Vendée, on the Terrière spot.

“It is linked to everything that is fashionable at the moment, in relation to nature, the need to be healthy and ecological” – Olivier Brulon, surf school of La Terrière

This is where Olivier Brulon set up his school in 2004. He was all alone, only in the summer. Since then, he has recruited five instructors, and works 8 months out of 12 … For him, surfing is no longer an insider activity at all: “Before, if we didn’t live near the coast, and if we didn’t know someone who did it to introduce us to the environment, it was complicated. This is no longer the case today. . “ One of the main interests, for Olivier Brulon, is the simplicity of this sport, and of the equipment: “a board, a wetsuit, and let’s go! It really gives a feeling of ease and freedom “. It is also true that manufacturers have seen the arrival of this groundswell. The boards, today manufactured industrially, very often in Asia, have become very cheap …

Before a surf lesson, in La Tranche-sur-Mer © Radio France
Philippe Rey-Gorez

The other reason for the success is this direct contact with the sea. Jean-Marie, in the process of equipping himself, is not at his first wave. He is 72 years old: “What I like is the rhythm of the waves, it’s the energy of the ocean. It’s a kind of spirituality, in a certain sense.” This is also what Sophie, much younger and a beginner, says: “It’s a beautiful way of communicating with the sea, in fact. You have to understand it, and that’s what I like”.

Traffic jams on the spots

More recently, the health crisis and fears about the practice of indoor sport have also fostered the need to evolve in the middle of nature. So much so that surfing is a bit of a victim of its own success, and the best spots are sometimes taken by storm. This may also be the reason why more and more people are also practicing it in winter.