These days, the way in which we connect with the sea through leisure activities is fairly recent. In fact, it’s a constantly changing relationship and as such is worthy of ongoing observation, analysis and consideration. In France, these activities were marked early on by prestigious “influencers”: Alain Gerbault, Bernard Moitessier and Eric Tabarly. Sailing – and this is a good thing – has carved out a prominent place for itself, more so perhaps in our imaginations than in reality (the weight of the motor boat being considerably more important). It’s our opinion, our belief, that this culture still bears substantial sway and shapes our desires (through various “symbolic notions” like living on board or Olympism…). Today, whilst wondering what tomorrow’s practices will bring, alternative ways of heading out to sea are returning to the forefront. Lighter, more hedonistic and, in short, more accessible.
source: Geography and Culture review
Recently, a new sensitivity towards the ‘maritime’ has developed. After years of crisis, a nascent maritimity is emerging along with new kinds of societies. We see this expressed through the growth in nautical sports and water-gliding activities (windsurfing, surfing, speed-sailing), cruises, maritime museums, marinas, big regattas… water takes on a whole new status in European harbour towns: urban planning over the last ten years has turned towards the sea, a fresh feature in the urban landscape. Lorient, Brest, Dunkirk, Saint-Nazaire, Liverpool, Anvers… all are interested in reconquering port zones (redevelopment of docks, opening up of the town centre onto the isolated port area…). Overlooked during the 70s and the 80s, the sea recovers its position to become an important element of urban planning for towns in search of their identity.
Cross channel atlas
To illustrate this new reflection, you’ll find two videos from the American brand BOTE. The idea is not, of course, to imply that the big stand up paddle is the future of mankind, but to illustrate the differences and to document an “ultra-light” approach to water. As different as they both are from each other, we love the statement, the style and the tone of these two films, and several themes or common threads emerge:
- the season
- the place
- the activity (fishing, underwater hunting)
- the ocean and navigation (means of access to the sea)
- equipment (the material required for different activities)
- the human aspect, the community, sharing values
THERE IS OF COURSE A “CULTURAL” DIMENSION, AND IT’S THE POINT ON WHICH WE’D LIKE TO FOCUS: THE REASON FOR THE HELPFUL FORWARD ON MARITIMITY. WE OBSERVE DIFFERENCES IN PRACTICES, SPECIFIC TO EACH CONTINENT OR REGION. THE CONNECTION TO THE SEA IS NOT THE SAME IN FLORIDA AS IN BRITTANY. YET, IT WOULD BE A MISTAKE TO THINK THAT IT’S SIMPLY A QUESTION OF CLIMATE…
- spending power
- mobility in its broadest sense
- the mutation of leisure activities
- the pyramid of ages
- the weight of infrastructures
- the ecological impact of different activities
All of the above, combined with a sports and leisure activities offer that has grown considerably since the 70s, will change absolutely everything.
If we needed to make a list of keywords, or of the values conveyed in these two films, it would look like this:
- winter, ice, cold, waves, surfing, neoprene, the game, fishing, the coast, friendship, culture, love for your home spot, the outdoors, exploring, underwater hunting, the town, commuting, the community
for the second video:
- summer, heat, the sun, exoticism, fishing, Florida, a tattooed guy, a map, portraits, women, the ‘Grand Banks’, an alternative view of authenticity, fishing, a bearded guy, a big SUP, motor boats, the mangrove, dreadlocks, smoke, smiles, sharing and… micro adventure.
All of this is transposable to France, desirable even, we believe there are many people out there who could identify with it. Maritime culture today is multiple and cross-border, it’s just a matter of cultural ‘formatting’ that prevents it from gaining ground. Things could change. Today and tomorrow the sea will conjure up sailing, surfing, kitesurfing, fishing for sport or not, apnoea, underwater hunting, stand up paddling, (close) exploration, coastal raids in minimalistic mode taking care to make little impact and using intelligent mobility, kayaking, the pirogue, swimrunning, nearby.
The sea of tomorrow, means an outdoor spirit…