Surfing in the Landes - an extraordinary adventure


The people of the Landes began surfing at the end of the 19th century. At a time when people surfed on tree trunks, some enthusiasts had the idea of splitting and thinning them with a “coumgate”

(a small tool used to carve wood) to enhance buoyancy. Intrigued by the manufacture of these wooden boards, spectators christened them “coungates” and the surfers “Coungatataous”.

In 1956, with the help of his screenwriter friend Peter Viertel, the Californian surfer Dick Zanuck brought the very first balsa surfboard to the Atlantic beaches.

In 1957, having measured dimensions of this board, a native of Dax, Jacky Rott, produced the first two French surfboards made from balsa wood covered in fibreglass and polyester resin by the plastics company in Uza.

The popularity of surfing grew along the Landes coast in various spots such as Hossegor, Seignosse, Capbreton to name but a few, some more secret than others and all of them forever changing to tune of the sandbanks and baïnes (pools).

In 1964, the French Surfing Federation was created in Biarritz while in 1975 the Santocha Surf Club was founded on the Savane beach in Capbreton. In 1984, the French Surfing Federation moved to a new home in Hossegor before the Hossegor Surf Club was founded in 1994.