Surfing is officially in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Para-surfing is following suit for 2024. While we’re all stoked on this, everyone is also wondering, where and how will the events go down? The WSL has long waiting periods, but the Olympics is expected to be a different format with a smaller event window- Former Rip Curl General Manager of Operations and surf industry veteran Baptiste Caulonque has the answers we’ve been waiting for.
Caulonque has worked tirelessly over the last few years putting together the TERRE D’EAUX Project, which aims to revamp a space in Sevran, Paris. He, along with his business partners have entered into a partnership with Wavegarden using their Cove technology. The goal is to create an inclusive European surfing hub for all, and of course, use the venue to host the Olympic surfing games. The site is located minutes from Paris’ center and also happens to be within earshot of the Charles-De-Gaulle airport.
Surfersvillage did an exclusive interview with Caulonque and talked about their decision regarding wave technology, future Olympic surfing champions, possibilities of different surf competition formats, and who will be able to surf the park.
We’re going to hand it over to Surfersvillage, this conversation is interesting and Caulonque poses some interesting ideas regarding possible land-locked champions to be discovered.
We heard you are using Wavegarden’s Cove technology. Why did you decide on this design – and is there a place for beginners with the Cove design?
Yes, for the TERRE D’EAUX Project in Sevran, we will be using Wavegarden’s Cove technology. It struck us as the best choice to meet our expectations which are to operate on a daily basis welcoming both beginners and experts surfers as well as organize events with elite athletes. Sevran is minutes away for Paris and close to the Charles-De-Gaulle airport so our potential audience is large. Therefore, it is key that the selected equipment can deliver a high number of waves and for all levels.
We assume you got to test this technology at their secret location deep in the Basque Country of Spain – what is it like surfing the Cove?
The TERRE D’EAUX Project has the full support of the French Surfing Federation, so it was easy for us to have many elite athletes to test and vet the COVE. In addition, we brought along some surf instructors as well to ensure the COVE is relevant for teaching surfing. We want surfing in Sevran to be inclusive starting with the local kids who have no clue as to what surfing is.
All invited surfers, starting with me, were amazed. The variety and quantity of waves is awesome. Changing from a pointbreak wave, to a beach break wave on to a reef break wave in an instant is quite thrilling. It offers so many possibilities for training, for fun or even coming up with new ideas on competition formats. One other shocking item is the intensity. Waves kept coming and coming, and seeing the athletes getting tired because of the frequency was fun and so different from a regular ocean experience.
Who do you see using this pool once it opens to the public and how will they use it? After work exercise? Weekend with the family? Lunch hour workout?
The TERRE D’EAUX Project is part of a huge remodeling initiative of the Paris area called REINVENTONS LA METROPOLE DU GRAND PARIS. There is a new network of metro lines and stations in and around Paris planned for 2022. Sevran will be 15 minutes away from Paris and 20 minutes from La Défense. Access will be super convenient for all – local people obviously as well as anyone from the huge Paris area and even further with Charles-De-Gaulle being just 10 minutes away.
In addition to Surfing, TERRE D’EAUX will offer skateboarding and wakeboarding possibilities. We are building a boardsports park with selected retail activities (incl. food and beverage) that can meet all needs; training, having fun, going to the beach, hanging around and hosting events including music.
Will we see kids who learn to surf in a pool and then go on to become Olympic champions?
Once surfing and para-surfing are scheduled for certain for 2024 Olympics in Paris, there is a fair chance that TERRE D’EAUX will apply to host these events as the COVE offers world-class waves in great numbers AND Sevran is located at the very heart of the Olympic village. Hosting the Olympics would be an amazing exposure for Sevran and TERRE D’EAUX. The French Surfing Federation is adamant about scouting new surfers from the city of Sevran and around as potential elite athletes. I don’t know if they could be ready by 2024 but possibly for the LA games in 2028!
Beyond surfing, what will this project mean to the surrounding area in Paris?
Bringing Surfing to Paris is made possible because it is part of a much larger project. The City of Sevran was expecting an ambitious remodeling project to help upgrade parts of the City while keeping its youth excited and strongly committed to Sevran. In addition to some 600+ new households and retail space, the City wanted activities around water. CRESCENDO and LINKCITY (part of the BOUYGUES group) came up with the best ideas – high-quality construction at affordable prices, premium architecture and landscaping, a sound water management system that will clean up the polluted groundwater and low-consumption electricity setups. In addition, we offered the most exciting water program with Surfing and Wakeboarding with the support of both French Federations.
It is thrilling to offer such premium projects in these parts of the Paris suburbs often pointed out for darker reasons. 25% of the Sevran population is 14 years old or less. 50% is 18 or less. The reservoir of kids, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs there is insane. The future is there.
OK, please give us an opening date and just how big this project will be.
Our target is to operate starting mid-2022. We are working hard to be Europe’s best boardsports park offering world class surfing, skateboarding, and wakeboarding in a great environment, close to Paris and so easy to access. We were awarded not more than 6 weeks ago and we’ve had so many incoming calls from brands, athletes, and medias to partner with us. We’re excited.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about this project?
Book your 2022 Summer weekends to visit us in Sevran.