Marc-Antoine GUET Journalist for Surf Session magazine carried out a long and comprehensive survey on the emerging phenomenon of surf pools. He also talks about the Okahina Wave alternative, a floating atoll that creates the first wave of ecological surfing.
Where are we going with the artificial waves?
An open letter from collectives and environmental associations accused the French Surf Federation last February of “wanting to put sport and medals before ecology”. What to think about it? Tremendous technological advances in forging medals or completely useless environmental heresy ?
Dive into the heart of wave pools, a subject that never ceases to stir.
Surf Session – “Build a wave?” The expression intrigues and makes you smile at the same time, but yet, we are at the gates of a reality that may see the appearance of perfect copies of Pipe in the Ardèche countryside, the steppes of Russia or the Sahara Desert. not. The surf of tomorrow will be overcrowded. Like it or not, artificial waves are on the rise. Wave pool, artificial wave, in the end, whatever. A wave pool is nothing but an artificial wave in a concrete environment. But if the technology intrigues, the environmental impact, it questions. At a time when greenwashing is cooked in all sauces (to the point of becoming disgusting), it is difficult not to ask a few questions about this dividing phenomenon. “
WITH THE OLYMPICS, A PERFORMANCE OBLIGATION
Surf Session – “The population of surfers in the world today is estimated at 35 millions. In France, we are talking about nearly 500,000 practitioners and 500 school / club structures. The results of a study conducted by researchers from Oxford, reveal that a quality surf spot generates nearly 20 million dollars per year. 20 millions which are directly (re)injected into the local economy. Surfing therefore enhances the attractiveness of the regions, boosts tourist activities, creates jobs, generates additional income for the local economy, etc. According to a survey by the Aquitaine Regional Tourism Committee, half of stays in the region are primarily motivated by surfing. Here, the practice affects nearly 400 companies and directly hires nearly 3,500 people. You don’t have to go very far to understand why many people are more and more interested in these new gold mines …… ”.
France cannot afford to miss the Olympic turn. Jean-Luc Arrassus, President of the French Surf Federation says: “… You have to understand that rehearsal is part of the high level and that this kind of installation will save us time in technical preparation … “
Surf Session – “… Yes but here it is, surfing made its appearance at the Olympic Games and will be there for the first time in its history next August in Tokyo. Not to mention, that after Tokyo, Paris 2024 will come with the objective for France, to shine at home. The artificial waves as training ground, the sporting argument is posed. Besides, on the side of professional surfers, not many people contradict … “
For the Breton surfer Ian Fontaine – “… With the evolution of surfing today, the increase in the number of practitioners, the fact that it is at the Olympic Games and that the level is higher and higher, I think that artificial waves are a tool that cannot be overlooked. It is even a compulsory tool for a federation and a nation in order to raise the surfer to another level. People who have a swimming pool near their home to train will have a significant advantage over other nations. And with the Olympics now, we’re talking about the nation … “
As Marc-Antoine GUET points out, the stakes for the Olympic Games and the financial stakes are very present. But he immediately wrote “What is more opaque, however, is the real environmental impact of these new artificial paradises…. “.
Find this 12-page survey in full (and in French) in the Surf Session magazine (of April-June 2020) available online at shop.surfsession.com