SEA's Surf Summit 2011

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San Felipe, Gran Canaria

Hello All,

This is a quick letter from Gran Canarias, I arrived here on Friday 25th November for Surfing Europe Association’s Surf Summit Conference, so I just want to summarise the things I have learnt, the people I have met and the occasional surf I have squeezed in.

The conference is 2 days long and coincides with the ISA World Bodyboarding Championship, at El Fronton - I have seen videos of this place and it looks crazy, definitely only a stand up wave for the  insane, I’m going down there today (the competition starts Wednesday and has a live feed so check it out) to look at the contest site, cannot wait. The conference asked some pretty fundamental questions, everything from; is our national and international coaching systems working from beginner lessons to professional level training, it was really interesting to see what each country was doing and if it was possible to collaborate on many of these projects and ideas.

On the second day I met Angel Lobo Rodrigo, who is a Doctor of law at the University of La Laguna, he combined forces with Tony Butt, famous Oceanographer and expert in all things ocean. This small but powerful team have helped protect several surf areas, seeing waves as an economic, social and environmental resource and now the local government has accept their ideas and has protected several surf spots from being destroyed through, aggressive beach management, marina or coastal development. The SAS in the UK are looking at similar projects, so is the US and other countries, if two people can have the determination to get the result they desired (apparently the first protected zone is just the start for them here in the Canaries) then there is no reason why other countries cannot emulate such an amazing project as this. one thing Angel and Tony did was release an IPhone app that highlighted the locations and categorised many of Canary Islands surf spots, which has created some anger in the sense that some of the secret spots have made public. Angels motivation to do this is if the government, developers and other investing parties do not know the location of these waves then they might try and develop these areas without knowing that it may destroy a surf spot - the secrecy of some surfing spots makes them vulnerable to development or privatisation. If you ever visit the Canary Islands, download the App; Islas Canarias Water Sports for free! I want to say a massive congratulation to Angel and the rest of the team for using the government’s power in a positive way for surfing, working with local and national government can actually help our sport be protected for further generations!

I met with the Heads of Surfing Europe Association, who are trying to build a concrete network within Europe to help build surfing within Europe on a competitive, environmental, social and hobby level. It’s great to see organisations like this that want to build these within the core of their organisation and I say watch this space!

As for the surfing! Don’t trust a well-known Irish flight company to look after your surfboard, but the waves here have been fun, slightly windy and entry and exit from the water can be a little but sketchy at high tide, it’s hit the rocky beach and run like hell!!! The first day I surfed a spot I have no idea what the name was (if I had an IPhone I could probably tell you), the second day we surfed a place called San Felipe. This spot was really good fun even with a cross-on wind.  The scenery is phenomenal, with super steep cliffs and a massive bridge linking 2 huge hills together, just above your head.

Final thoughts, go to the Isla Canaries, the nicest people you will ever meet, super fun waves and some really crazy ones too (El Fronton) and it around 18-20 degrees outside in November (the locals think this is cold and laugh every time I mention 5/4’s or 8 degrees sea temperatures.

Buen día, y amar la vida

Rick @ Surfing Europe Associations’ Surf Summit

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