Thursday, 4 July 2019

Dune of Pilat, France

I'm doing another location post because mainly because I'm here, but also because this was mentioned in my interviews with Alex Bird & Vitor Semedo this year and I thought I'd come here and see what I could find for myself!

The Dune of Pilat (also known as Dune of Pyla) is the tallest free-standing sand dune in Europe, this fact is so proudly shown at the park itself and at the passport control area at Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport; I was getting more and more excited the closer I got to the dune. Once you arrive, you will find yourself enter a large car park equipped with plenty of spaces for cars, bikes, and even coaches; this includes a café, toilet and washroom facilities on the park a few hundred metres away from the dune. The parking fees are generous and won't break the bank for your trip.

List of the prices as of 2nd July 2019.

In my interview with Vitor, he told me that you can sandboard on the dune but only on the side facing towards the beach; sandboarding towards the side facing the forest is forbidden, most likely to preserve the pine forests there. Despite being a nature reserve, it's worth noting that the site is open all year round and there's no limits to the beach or forest access near the dune.

Notice how the dune slowly creeps towards the trees.

The best things about this place is that there is a staircase to the top of the dune, this has been the first dune I've been able to climb without feeling the need to drink all of my available water; the other great feature of this dune is that the views once you reach the top are jaw-dropping! The dunes seem to go on forever and don't stop in one direction, the other direction shows you a stunning beach also with paragliding as its sport of choice! I've seen so many photos of this dune on the Internet, but once I saw it with my eyes, it hit me and I couldn't stop smiling!

They should have steps to the top of every dune as standard!

I actually came to do some recreational sandboarding over 2 days here; the first day did allow me to do some sandboarding but the sand in some places was wet and my board wouldn't move, I did manage to achieve a couple of good runs on the dune but the best one I did, my camera wasn't on! Sandboarding was able to be done but it required a lot of wax, a lot of patience, and a lot of skill; thankfully luck was on my side! The second day went without a hitch, aside from getting a lot of sand in my eyes and getting my board buried a few times because of the amount of sand here, overall I completely understand why so many tourists come here, I even saw some German, British, Swiss, and Dutch vehicles in the car park.

The wagon for my trip!

It is a task and a half to try and get public transport to the dune, even from the near towns of Arcachon & La-Teste-Du-Buch; it's not an easy task, I hired a car from Bordeaux's Airport as in my view, driving is pretty much the only viable option, especially with a big sandboard to hand; to summarise, it can take some time to get here, but it's open 24 hours (I'd recommend sandboarding in the evening during the hot summer months) got a spectacular beach, and dunes that don't seem to finish.

This is the main reason I got 3-day flight to Bordeaux, but I gotta say it was money well spent, I ticked off another sand dune and also, I got to visit France, I'll see you when I get home!

Monday, 1 July 2019

Who is Vitor Semedo?

At the Sandboard World Cup in 2017, he finished 3rd in the Boardercross discipline for Cabo Verde; at this year's world cup in June, he came 2nd in the Slalom and was crowned world champion in Sand Boardercross!

The 2019 Boardercross podium (left: Deybis Jhair Donayre Ecos, centre: Vitor Semedo, right: Omar Martínez)

Vitor Semedo had participated in his first ever snowboarding event this year at the Audi Snowboard Series and the Giant X tour in Flumserberg, Switzerland; he finished 11th on the Giant X tour and came 19th in the Audi Snowboard Series. [1]

It's the first time that an athlete outside of Europe or South America has won a Sandboarding discipline at the world cup since it began, hearing the good news and armed full of questions, I had an opportunity to interview, the champion himself!

Mute Grab by Vitor Semedo

How does it feel to be world champion in boardercross?

"I still can't believe that I can call myself world champion, I did a bronze medal in 2017 and I was there more for the experience than for the title!"

What do you think you did differently this time to be the world champion as opposed to coming 3rd?

"Work, training, practice, and fun were the added ingredients."

How would you prepare yourself before a sandboarding tournament?

"I did training this winter and last winter, in the snow (because I live in France); I did the Giant X tour in Switzerland; I did a long trip in Namibia as well for training."

What's your favourite place for Sandboarding?

"After my trip in Namibia, definitely Namibia; because the landscape is just crazy, amazing; the dunes are really big."

Do you think Cape Verde will get more exposure for Sandboarding after your world cup win?

"I don't think so, the tourism isn't big enough for sandboarding. For people who want to discover something, it can be a good experience."

How did you handled coming second in the slalom?

"Actually it was surprising for me because, Slalom isn't my specialitity; I was relaxed for the slalom because I already won the boardercross and I wanted to live the experience, after the run maybe I could do it; the German man (Luca Flachenecker) was really strong and really fast and I couldn't win but second place is a good position, I'm happy with it."

Do you have any messages for anyone who wants to get into Sandboarding?

"Just try and you'll fall in love, if you try sandboarding, you will want to go back on sand for sure; we have no seasons, it's year round you can try all year round!"

What plans do you have in the next world cup?

"For the next world cup, I will do the same but the level is going up; I have to train more; the new generation is coming and they're training all year round (especially the Peruvians & Chileans) so it will be hard for sure!"

Aside from my questions for Vitor, the Champion had also asked me how I got into sandboarding, I responded by saying that I got into it from an early age, I didn't feel the same connection with sandboarding as I did with other sports, and once I learned to drive, I could progress my abilities in the sport; also I was asked why there wasn't any English participation in the World Cup, I therefore discussed my plans to compete in the Sandspirit competition first and then progress onto the world cup the following year if all goes well!

Mr. Semedo at the 2019 Sandboarding World Cup.

It's rare I get a chance to interview inspiring sandboarding heroes; but when I do, I end up interviewing the new world boardercross champion for 2019! Félicitations on the new world title & Merci for an excellent interview!

[1]: InterSands. 2019. Switzerland welcomes sand riders to participate in snow events.. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 26 June 2019].