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Finistère organizes its first school trip to go surfing in Portugal

The bags have been ready for a week. They are 25 students, 10 girls and 15 boys; they are between 11 and 15 years old and they are delighted to leave. “I was really happy, I’ve never been to Portugal and discovering new waves is great fun!”, exclaims Élou, 15 years old. He is in second but he is having a hard time concentrating on the lessons, as the deadline is approaching: “I can’t wait to be there!“. He leaves with his “group of friends“.
Gaspard is 12 years old, he is the youngest of the group: “I expect a super good trip, I love to surf but also to visit and I have never been there”. For Bleuenn and Mathilde, 14, it will also be their first time in Portugal: “We didn’t expect it at all! We’re super happy, it’s really great. Plus, we’re the first year this has happened to us, so it’s great. We’re super motivated!” conclude the girls.

And there is no question of arriving empty-handed. The young people have slipped small children into their bags Breton gifts. Élou and Gaspard have provided local provisions by bringing pancakes.

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A file built in one month

It took barely a month for the file to be put together by the Notre Dame de Kerbertrand private school in Quimperlé: “They had been trying to launch this kind of project for almost 5 years and there the support of students, parents and management made the sauce take!”, explains Stéphane Ibarboure, the PE teacher who accompanies them. He manages the surf option.

The stay costs nothing to teenagers – Stephane Ibarboure

Result: instead of a traditional ski class, these students leave for Portugal and the town of Ericeira (30 minutes by car northwest of Lisbon). They leave by bus for Nantes then take off for the Portuguese Atlantic coast. They arrive on Wednesday April 6 in the evening and are immediately immersed in the bath : “To break the ice, we have planned to put two French and two Portuguese in each bungalow. So they will have no choice but to speak, either in English or by mixing with Spanish.“, smiles the PE teacher.

The key word of the project: exchange. “We really don’t go there under the eyes of the competition but with an openness to discussion. On the waves, the technique, the history, the environment,… A pure exchange what”.

The trip is fully funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal and the French National Education: students pay nothing.

The students were able to speak with their Portuguese counterparts by video before seeing them in person. © Radio France
Stephane Ibarboure

Combine surfing and cultural exchange

The stay lasts 4 days, on the program a alternating between surfing in the morning and culture in the afternoon : “Every morning we will be able to practice the sport of Ribeira D’ilhas which is a place where there are international competitions. The afternoon is intended for example to do a beach pick-up, a hike and then visits to some cultural places of Ericeira.

Teenagers will also meet surf champion Tiago Pires “It’s like kids at football going to meet MBappé. It’s great for our young surfers from Kerbertrand!”.
The last day will be the Océonarium.

Stéphane Ibarboure is delighted to be able to offer this experience to children as recognition of their commitment to the surfing option: “It embodies all the work of the children, their investments in lessons on Wednesday afternoons, even in winter and their participation in all school competitions. They are always involved in the projects and they are the ones who bring this option to life. Every year we have more and more people.” The teacher continues: “For them it will be a great exchange, some have never been abroad or have never even flown.”

Get inspired to develop surf sites in Brittany

A trip rich in exchanges for young people, but also for older people. The Ericeira site is a “world surfing reserve”, include a world surf reserve. And this classification is of great interest to Stéphane Ibarboure, especially for Breton sites : “It’s something we’re looking at a little, especially for sites like La Torche, Crozon, Guidel or Quiberon. We would like to see if it can be applied on our Breton coast.”
The former president of the Brittany Surfing League intends to take as much advice as possible: “The goal is also that he helps us on a project set-up, we will be able to see how to put together a file.”

Several Breton sites could be concerned: “Surfing in Brittany has exploded in the last 15 years but for the moment, apart from the candidacy we had for the Olympic Games, notoriety remains regional or even national. While we have sites that would largely deserve to to be known for this side, that is to say the practice of surfing but also to have an approach to protecting the environment.”

It preserves the waves and the quality of the coastline – Stephane Ibarboure

Élou is in second and he goes surfing in Portugal with his friends.
Élou is in second and he goes surfing in Portugal with his friends. © Radio France
Stephane Ibarboure

These sites are classified as Natural 2000, but the “world surfing reserve” classification would allowgo even further : “It could, for example, prevent them from digging off the La Torche spot one day or installing wind turbines, which would cause the swell to be slowed down or there would no longer be the same evolution of the seaside. It preserves the waves and the quality of the coastline.”

In addition, the title “world surfing reserve” makes it possible to revitalize the coast : “For example in Portugal they have set up wooden pontoons which preserve the territory while allowing tourists to come and see the waves”

The professor hopes to be able to renew the experience in the following years with why not “students from all Breton departments!”

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