Saturday, January 14, 2017

WSL Competition in France

Hi all,

Being back in Hawaii after my semester abroad, one of the first things I wanted to do was get back in the water and do some surfing. It reminded me of one of my absolute favorite trips we took during the past few months- to the Quiksilver Pro France! For those of you who don't follow it, the WSL is the World Surf League and they host competitions for the best professional surfers around the world.

My girlfriend and I were originally planning to go to Dubai, but when we saw the competition would be in France during the same week we knew we had to go. We go to every competition on Oahu each year and we would be so close to this one (well, we were on the other side of the country, but at least we were in the same country). We booked a train to Bayonne, a little coastal town on the Atlantic Ocean side of France, and after a full day and stop in Toulouse we made it.

The competition is held at a little beach town called Soorts-Hossegor just a few kilometers away from there. It was truly one of the coolest little beach towns we had ever been to. It had a little downtown street lined with surf shops and restaurants, which was currently packed, but you could tell it would have been empty on any other non-summer day. Other than that, it was all residential with a lot of nice big beach houses. The beach was gigantic, with massive dunes so you couldn't even see it from the street below them, like these below.

The competition was much different from what I expected. Having been to the Pipe Masters and other North Shore WSL competitions, I thought I had seen the beaches as packed with people as they can get. I really thought the France competition wouldn't be crowded at all, but I was so wrong! This beach was so packed we could barely find a place to sit. People came from all over Europe to see the pro surfers. We were actually only a few kilometers away from Spain, so there were a ton of Spanish fans there. They even did the announcements in Spanish after French and English. Of course they had the usual T-shirt stand, and I had to spend half my life savings on shirts.


The winner of both competitions (Quiksilver/men and Roxy/women) were both representing Hawaii! John John Florence and Carissa Moore won this one and as you probably know, John John went on to take the world title this year. The waves on this stretch of coast were absolutely incredible and you would never know it, so it gave these surfers a lot to work with. We later found out that Hossegor is considered the "Surfing Capital of Europe"!

It was a great few days at a town that I will definitely come back to in the summer some day. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to visit a non-touristy French beach town. On the way back home, our train made a stop in Toulouse again, but this time we booked it so we would have a night to spend there. We went on the official tour of Airbus Industries where they manufacture all their aircraft, and even got to see the assembly line of the super-mega-jumbo A380! Another great stop in France for anyone who is interested in aviation- the entire city of Toulouse seems to be based on the industry.

In conclusion, it was an awesome trip that reminded us of home a little. Of all of the cool countries that we travelled to in Europe, Brittney and I still agree that this trip is at the top of our favorites. If you have the chance to visit the Basque Country coast in France, take it!

-Woodrow Matthews
France, Fall 2016

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