Those inspired folks in Biarritz have just added the equivalent of a Surfing A-level into the curriculum, meaning that French students can be examined on their surf skills as part of the French Baccalaurate.
Next week, on April 8th, 70 candidates will be taking to the water to be judged by 12 sport teachers on the Grande Plage in Biarritz.
The inclusion of surfing into the curriculum has been the result of a long battle supported by every surf club in the region, all of whom are keen to promote the sport in schools.
Alexandre Griveau of the French Federation of Surfing (FFS) says: “The president of the FFS Jean-Luc Arassus will oversee the exam, organised by the Biarritz Surf Club and the local education authority of Bordeaux. The examinations will consist of tests in paddling, physical skills and an oral test on general knowledge about surfing. ”
Candidates will be called on to the Grande Plage at 8am and will be examined until 6pm. So it seems stamina is certainly being put to the test too!
Surf photographer Elizabeth Pepin never thought that surfing would be integrated into education. “It is amazing that the schools are accepting surfing!” she says. “I could never imagine this in a million years. When I began surfing, people thought I was crazy. My parents asked that I stopped doing it because it was too dangerous. It was still considered a rebel sport done by people on the fringe of society.
“For schools to embrace it in this way is incredible. I think it is such a positive thing because surfing is very empowering and also a fantastic way to connect with nature. It’s also a way to teach kids about other things like physics, oceanography, weather, geography – all those things come into play if you want to know when and where the surf is going to be good.”
While Biarritz are leading the surf revolution, it seems like it may take a while before surfing becomes truly mainstream. However, the surf exams certainly look set to give surfing a huge boost in promoting worldwide interest.
“We’ve been thinking of this idea for years now,” says Alexandre Griveau. “It has been a tough job to convince people that surfing is no longer a marginal sport, but getting surfing on the agenda proves that it is finally accepted on the same level as other traditional sports like football and rugby. It is a great thing indeed.
“Our numbers have already grown from 43 candidates last year to 70 this year, so let’s hope it becomes a wider phenomenon – in other surf spots in France and even the rest of the world!”
Surfing instead of double chemistry? We certainly hope so too…
Pictures by: Anglet Surf Photo.
Interviews by: Elisa Routa