Once surfing and para-surfing is scheduled for certain for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Sevran project hopes to host
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 4 December, 2017 - Suppose the next John John Florence is out there in the world right now but instead of being pushed into whitewater rollers at Chun's Reef on the North Shore he's kicking a soccer ball around a dirt lot somewhere in landlocked europe. The great thing about the coming wavepool boom is that it will open up surfing to places and future heroes of the sport that otherwise might've missed the chance.
Bringing the waves to the landlocked will offer the sport of kings, its history and its stoke to the brine-deprived masses. But to do so, to make it happen takes a heaping amount of energy, passion, diligence and a relentless pursuit to get the job done. Whose shoulders does such an undertaking fall on?
Former Rip Curl General Manager of Operations and surf industry veteran Baptiste Caulonque has pumped out blood, sweat and tears these past few years to cement an ambitious project transforming a space near Paris to become the next European surfing hub. Already having locked in Wavegarden Cove technology, the project could even go on to host Olympic surfing.
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 whom 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 beachbreak wave on to a reefbreak 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?
TERRE D’EAUX 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 way 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 is 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 set ups. 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 week ends to visit us in Sevran.
Baptiste Caulonque started his own consulting firm in April 2013 to leverage his boardsports knowledge (built at Rip Curl and Oxbow) and consulting background from his time at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He provides consulting services to assist organizations in developing new businesses (product and territories) in youth, sports, apparel and surfwear industries mostly for EMEA. Missions have been carried out for a diverse array of clients (Swiss watch brand, French swimwear brand, French medical brand). Until February 2013, Baptiste was the General Manager at Oxbow, and prior to that, was the General Manager of Operations for six years at Rip Curl Europe.