THE ALTERNATIVE OKAHINA WAVE – Okahina is not just a wave. It is part of an environment, an era and it is very important for the future.
Marc-Antoine GUET journalist of the magazine Surf Session carried out a long and complete investigation 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.
Surf Session – “I have already heard of Okahina, and it is a real interesting project” – lan Fontaine like many others, knows this ambitious project. But what is Okahina Wave ? It is first of all a French innovation greentech, which would consist of a light floating infrastructure in the shape of a Polynesian atoll. It would therefore position itself on already existing bodies of water that it would not denature. On the contrary, it should be easily removable, not impacting “ad vitam aeternam” natural sites and therefore in step with the challenges of its time. But then, to what extent would Okahina Wave be ecological ? For its designer Laurent Hequily, it is first of all “a different philosophical approach to the subject” .
Surf Session – If we rely on the documents presented, the Okahina wave would not require concreting, would not durably waterproof the soil, would not mobilize large quantities of drinking water and even less filtration systems. Laurent Hequily adds: “We can no longer continue this race for energy consumption, even if it is renewable, to meet the simple needs of complexes which are only recreational water if we think about it“.
Surf Session – Unlike surf pools whose hourly energy consumption is equivalent to 600 to 800 homes, its own is very limited and, by extension, its carbon impact too.
But Okahina Wave also has the ambition to improve the biodiversity of degraded aquatic environments at sea, lake or river. How? ‘Or’ What ? For Laurent Héquily, its founder: “Beyond limiting its environmental impact, the idea is to use the wave to stir and oxygenate the waters of the lakes and / or to hydrodynamically renew the stagnant water in the lagoons, limiting thus the asphyxiation of water bodies and allowing the passage to recover floating macroplastics. It incorporates fish nurseries and artificial reefs into its structure to help aquatic fauna develop better. These are all the criteria that make the Okahina Wave semi-natural wave unique in the world and ecological.“
Surf Session – In other words, Okahina Wave is the result of an ecological process that is easy to install and dismantle. By oxygenating and improving the quality of the waters, by limiting the eutrophication of the lakes, by renewing the stagnant water of the lagoons, by limiting the bleaching of the coral, by integrating artificial reefs, by allowing cohabitation with the sharks in certain parts of the globe and recovering floating plastics via a filtration system. Okahina is clearly positioning itself today as an alternative. An ambitious system? Certainly, but achievable in the words of Laurent Héquily “With this project we have a systemic, multidimensional vision. For this we have assembled in our ecosystem a multidisciplinary team of about fifty people, experts and scientists who are collaborating on this adventure. It is not just a wave. It is part of an environment, in an era and it is very important for the future ”. Laurent Héquily’s vision is simple and in tune with the times.
According to journalist Marc-Antoine GUET – It is true that today all the existing projects we have talked about are none other than large concrete basins with significant ecological constraints, little or not in agreement with the values advocated by surfing . “It is a real challenge today to reconcile economic development and the environment. Our idea is also to demonstrate that it is possible. Okahina’s first profitability must absolutely be for the environment and biodiversity. If we lose this fight to save biodiversity, all the others will no longer make sense. ” Laurent Héquily
After an initial installation planned at the foot of Futuroscope, in Poitiers, during 2020, the “ecological” wave plans to also set up in Gironde in 2022, on the Libourne side on Lac des Dagueys.
Surf Session – What if wave pools were nothing more than a reflection of who we really are, a reflection of our society? A society that Man, for thousands of years, has always shaped in his image. Even if for once, the latter becomes artificial.
Laurent Héquily – “The idea is that by coming to quench their passion, surfers also contribute to the benefits of biodiversity. Artificial waves, why not. But not at any cost. At first I was taken for a madman, I was the only one to believe it, but I want to be a contributor to the change. Maybe in a few years we will realize that I was wrong. But I prefer to make a mistake in favor of biodiversity rather than in the opposite direction, the consequences will be less serious ”.
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
Illustrations Okahina – Crédit DEIS