Surfing, a practice far from the federal frameworkJust like almost all outdoor sports, the surfers' playground does not need any structure. Few material constraints have facilitated the development of this practice far from the federal framework in France. Arrived on the Basque Coast in the 50s, surfing has long been a marginal practice, reserved for a few enthusiasts. Although the French Surf federation was created shortly after, in 1964, the number of members has stagnated for several years, around 15,000, and remains low compared to the total number of practitioners, 680,000.
However, although the practice is autonomous, learning in France is often supervised by instructors trained by the French surfing federation and the Ministry of Sports. The training of individuals and tourists was the main activity of surf instructors, far ahead of the training in a surf club.
The inclusion of surfing as an Olympic sport in 2016 and its upcoming appearance at the 2024 Olympic Games could well change the federal landscape in the years to come.
Tourists and locals, a rivalry as old as surfingCompared to other water sports such as kitesurfing or windsurfing, the surfer has a very short glide time per session, barely a few minutes at best. Surfing is above all a lot of paddling time and waiting for a wave at the point break where all the surfers gather. And contrary to the wind, there is a limited number of waves per session, the more the number of surfers in the water increases, the more the number of waves per surfer per session decreases.
In France, it is above all during the summer period that the number of surfers in the water is the most important, as shown by the activity rate of surfing instructors which reaches a peak in August, and more particularly in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, a hotspot of surfing in France where instructors are the most numerous.
This concentration of people in the water and the differences in level and behavior can lead to frustration and accidents. Head injuries are the most frequent in this sport, according to hospital reports of surfers admitted for treatment in the Pyrénée-Atlantique area, a region that counts among its beaches, the famous spots of Hossegor, Hendaye, and Biarritz.