Biarritz Sauvetage Côtier
The Origin of Surf Life Saving Sport Events
Biarritz, a birthplace for professional rescue
Like many sports, the surf sports were born out of a professional activity. As a result of the dangers of the ocean, the development of the maritime traffic and surf bathing in Biarritz, the locals decide to create the first organization “Bathers Guiders” and a Surf Life Saving club.
In 1836, a human -sized company was created to ensure the safety of bathing at sea.
In 1857, a medical inspector of the ocean baths M Affre, wrote to the messenger of Bayonne:
«The Surf Life Saving company is established in Biarritz since several years and it’s an institution that provides great benefits. From early morning till early night their surfboat provides rescue at the most dangerous beach. It offers prompt help and protection to imprudent or tired bathers. Always vigilant, it foresees the dangers, and it indicates to the swimmers the currents which are too strong to avoid catastrophes. Within the work of the lifeguards, the Biarritz Surf Lifesaving club provides beachgoers and swimmers a perfect safety and, therefore Biarritz baths a brilliant reputation.»
During 1950, the Surf Life Saving company became
« The bathers guides » then after, « The Surf Lifesavers ».
The beginning of the Surf sports in Australia
Surf Life Saving originated in Australia in 1907 in response to drowning at local beaches in Sydney. The origins of the Surf Sports can be traced back to the actions of Mr William Gocher at Manly Beach in September 1902, defying the law of the time by bathing during the prohibited hours.
As surf bathing grew in popularity, its dangers just as rapidly became apparent. Small groups of experienced and regular surfers began to form themselves into lifesaving bodies to assist those who required to be rescued from an unfamiliar environment. These changes had a dramatic impact on local beaches culture as the number of beachgoers entering the surf suddenly increased. As many bathers couldn’t swim the number of drownings and attempted rescues also suddenly increased.
As these clubs grew in size and numbers, the need for a united front to raise funds and seek assistance from local and state government. This resulted in the formation of the New South Wales Surf Bathing Association on October 18, 1907, which in 1991 became known as Surf Life Saving Australia.
Although lifesaving remains the top priority for the membership, Surf Life Saving has evolved into a movement capable of offering diverse opportunities to all. For example, lifesavers can begin their journey in Nippers, grow up to patrol beaches, volunteer in education to help train other lifesavers, serve their club in a variety of roles, and compete in surf sports.
The development of the surf sports competition has been carried by the Australians. This is how Australians began to regulate lifesaving sport events. The first lifesavers competitions can be found at Bondi Beach (Sydney) as early as 1906.
The Rise of International Surf Lifesaving Sport
Raymond Pitet, founder of the French Surf Life Saving federation is at the origin of Pool Rescue.
In July 1902, Raymond Pitet organise the first pool rescue competition (The Navy Swimming and Surf lifesaving National Championships at Neuilly Sur Seine).
In 1910, he founded the International Surf Life Saving federation (to which Pool Rescue is attached), which he chaired for 41 years.
It was not until 1994 and after the World Surf Life Saving championships in the UK, for the two disciplines to merge: Pool Rescue (from the International Surf Life Saving from Raymond Pitet) and Surf Sports (From the World Surf Life Saving Australia) to become one federation, the current International Life Saving (ILS).
Both organizations were merged to promote still-water and surf lifesaving objectives throughout the world.
It was at this occasion that participates for the first time a french, David Dubes from Biarritz Surf Life Saving Surf Club.
The ILS chaired by Klaus Wilkens collaborates and partners with national and international organizations to prevent drowning, to promote the provision of lifesaving services and oversee lifesaving sport throughout the world.
Today, France is one of the top leading country in surf sports competitions and achieved a 3rd place at the World Surf Life Saving Championships in 2018 held in Adelaide, Australia.
The BSC Surf Life Saving Academy
The BSC Surf Life Saving Academy is opened to everyone and is managed by lifeguards and qualified educators. It aims to initiate surf life savers from early age to the adult age in a fun way with the skills and knowledge of surf awareness.
At Biarritz Surf Life Saving, we provide a wide range of training sessions to improve your skills whether you aspire to be a more competent lifeguard or represent your State or Country, Surf Sports at BSC has pathways to help you achieve your goals.
The sport season starts at the beginning of October and it wraps up with the French National Surf Life Saving championship.
Our “Discovery group” caters for new members to discover the surf lifesaving (up to 2 years of continuity at the club). This group is tailored to acquire surf awareness and to initiate to the different surf sports disciplines.
Once the basics have been acquired, we propose them to participate to the local surf life saving competitions, whether is in “Pool Rescue” at the Biarritz’s Cup but also beach and surf events as the Carnival’s Cup and Carcabueno’s Cup (around spring/summer).
Our “Improvement group” are suitable for surf lifesavers already familiar with the ocean and the surf sports. The aim of this group is to maintain and improve those skills with the possibility of participating to any local competition.
The “Advanced group” caters for members with a competition profile, whether is at a state or national level. This group will aim for a sporting progression to compete, or to professionally work as a Lifeguard at the beach. The youngest people in this group belong to a sport section from Jean Rostand high school in Biarritz. They aim for a qualification to the Nationals while ensuring their school project and having access to a medical and sport monitoring.
The “Expert group” is designed for national or international competitors.
Surf lifesaving proofs
Lifesaving sports events showcase the skills and physical abilities required to save a life. The craft used is the same as the one used by professional lifeguards.
The discipline is opened to everyone and provides a competitive sporting environment across a range of disciplines including pool rescue, beach, and surf events.
Surfboat, a discipline for thrill seekers!
The surfboat is a surf lifesaving discipline very popular in Australia and New Zealand. The surfboat was used for rescue at big surf conditions where lifesavers couldn’t swim or use theirs boards to rescue the victims. Boat crews were trained in life saving skills as well as boat handling technique. Powered vessels such as inflatable skis and Jet Ski personal watercraft have replaced surf boats as the primary tool for real world rescues efforts, but surfboat training and competition remain popular for Australians as recreational activities among both professional rescuers and athletes.
This sport was implemented in France back in 2001. It was started by Philippe Doimo from Bègles Surf Club. The first Surfboat competition organized in Europe was at the French Championships in Hossegor in 2001. The participant teams were Bayonne, Bordeaux and Hossegor.
These boats are fantastic to watch and require real team effort to row together through challenging conditions. Such was the showcase at the “Grande Plage” at Biarritz back on September 5th 2008 during an international competition organized in Europe.
The Surfboat Crew aka “boaties”
The surfboat craft is up to 300kg. A crew is made of five members: four rowers and a sweep. The sweep stands at the back of the boat and steers using a long oar. The remaining four crew members have one oar each – it’s their job to haul the craft out through the swell. The surf boat requires to be fit and strong, have surf skills and a solid teamwork. The sweep leads the boat and has an important role to guide the rowers.
When the gun goes off, the crews leap into their boats and begin the mad scramble out through the surf. If all goes to plan, the boats power through the waves and over the swells. Many crews will mistime their run or be bested by the ocean and can be flipped or carried backwards by the wave. The most experimented of the crew is responsible for navigating and avoiding a back-shooting.
The course used for surfboat rowing races are circular in shape which are specially designed with floating buoys and are about 400m in length. At the start of the race, all crew members of each boat stand close to their boats holding its hull in knee-deep water. All the boats are positioned about 23m apart from each other. The race begins with a starting signal, after which the crew members push their boats for a short distance to gain momentum and the jump on to it and start rowing. The boat that first crosses the designated flags from the seaward side is declared as the winner. Anyone has its chances, a boat from the back can take a wave and finish first.
At Biarritz Surfclub, we are glad to have passionate clubbies about surfboats. Our president Manu IMMIG is one of them. He has won multiple medals in this discipline.
The surfboat section was launched by a bunch of mates when the surf club was created. And now we have about 15 athletes in the discipline. With the time the club got 3 surfboats to prepare their crew to the different nationals and international competitions.
Despite the BSC not participating at the French Cup at Hossegor in 2001, their athletes shown progress in the following competitions. As a matter of fact, since 2010 the club keeps their National French title for the 6th consecutive year.
In September 2014 at Montpellier, the first world championships were organized in France, positioning our crew into the podium!
Our red and white participated at the National Australian Championships aka Aussies from the 16th – 24th of April and at the World Titles on the 8th & 9th of September 2016 at Nooordwijk at the Netherlands! To be racing the most world strongest team was an amazing and unforgettable experience.
In 2018, at the Surf French Championships in Hendaye, the Biarrots won the title of French Championships, ahead of the Hossegor Crew.
One month later in Adelaide, Manu and his crew placed 2nd at Worlds.
The Infinite Ocean, an international competition from Biarritz
Whenever « Worlds » are held in Europe, the biarrots organize the Infinite Ocean competition. Many countries are represented: Australia, New Zealand, UK, Wales, France and Netherlands.
For further information in the Surfboat section, get in touch with Franck at 06 25 07 60 08
IRB – Inflatable Rescue Boat
This motorized surf craft has been created for surf lifesaving operations. It is been used for long years by Australians, English, and kiwis to ensure water safety
The IRB, a tool for the surf lifesaving
It all started at the end of 60s in New Zealand, when 2 lifesavers Warren Mitchell and John Fuller imagined a motorized surf craft to be able to be deployed in any surf conditions to save lives.
Since the 70’s, the Surf lifesaving Australia and Surf Lifesaving New Zealand implemented progressively their IRBs in the beach. In 2019, they were 780 IRB deployed that contributed to more than 4200 rescues.
In 2017, the BSC equipped with 2 IRBs to assure water safety and first aid rescue during sport events and cultural events.
Thus, in May of the same year, the summer temperatures being favorable to frequenting the beaches, but with strong oceanic conditions and a large coefficient, the city of Biarritz asked the association to allocate two IRBs. It was requested also to provide two lifeguards to the Main beach “The Grande Plage” and two others to the Milady beach to patrol the beaches and provide first aid assistance if needed.
The Biarritz Surf Lifesaving is convinced of the usefulness of IRB surf craft and particularly in to support the work of lifeguards before and after the season.
The IRB, an event combining sport, skills and rescue.
IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) competition aims to improve the skills and technique of IRB drivers and crew as well as allow crews to demonstrate their techniques and abilities to perform rescues. IRB’s competitions developed in parallel of the rescue service with comp events in Australia and in New Zealand during the 70’s, then Europe then United States.
Equipped with motorized vehicles, the lifeguards of Biarritz Surf Lifesaving club are able now to regularly practice driving IRBs. As a result, they won the French Championships of IRB in 2018.
The 2021-2022 season will begin on Monday, October 4.
RULES & NATIONALS RESULTS
Thanks to the magazines "Coureurs d'écume" and "Sud Ouest" for their article on the BSC title at the 2021 French Life saving Championships.
ORGANISATION & TRAVEL
At every competition registered in the schedule of sports competitions, the BSC provides a transport of surf craft, whether is with the trailer or with a small truck (for the youngest categories). Priority is given to the surf craft of the club, then to the personal surf craft of the youth people then to the adults.
A bus trip is organized for the competitions requiring more than 2 hours of travel. For local trips, every member will arrange their transport. Some members recommend using the website Co-voit.net. The club is not responsible the management of the car sharing but supports the initiative.
The transport details for each competition will be communicated in the “Club news” section at least one week before the event. All information will be updated as soon as communicated by the club.
Events fees and transport
For local events (less than 2hrs travel), the club won’t manage the transport of the surf craft.
For events requiring an organized transport, the club will take in charge the transport of the surf craft and will request for a participation equivalent to catering costs and approximately 1/3 of the cost of the travel per competitor.
Competitions entries are billed when you register for the competition. Payment in DPS points is possible for those who wish to do so, by contacting Alexandra at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They are supported by the club for all national competitions.
Next season starts on Monday, October 4.
Following a very strong demand for membership, our reception capacities are reaching their limits.
For more information, contact Alexandra at email@example.com