helene noesmoen

Hélène Noesmoen, three-times windsurfing World Champion

How did you get into windsurfing?
"It was something we did together as a family. I tried out various sports and realised my passion for adrenaline. I was born by the sea and my family life was governed by the tides, and by water sports. So windsurfing was a natural choice for me. The water is definitely where I belong! I began sailing in Les Sables-d'Olonne, at the local sports and water sports school. I started in an Optimist class vessel, before turning to windsurfing. As early as my secondary school years, I had dedicated time off to practice my sailing. In Vendée, water sports are extremely popular and people practice these activities all year round, even though the weather can be challenging in winter."

What competitive honours have you received?
"I'm a three-times windsurfing World Champion! I won my first World Championship in 2007, in the junior category (under 17). I won in the same category again the following year. I then moved into the RS:X Olympic class, and the international senior circuit.  A few months before the London Olympics, I put in a great performance at the 2012 World Championships, coming 15th in the senior category and winning the title in the youth category (under 21). I'm currently preparing for the Olympic Games in 2016 and 2020."

What's the best place for visitors to try out windsurfing in Vendée?
"There are lots of place you can go sailing in Vendée. The best idea is to try out various beaches and find one with the right wind direction. It all depends on the weather! There are plenty of options to suit all abilities and tastes. Weather conditions are very important when it comes to water sports. When it's windy, our beaches have great waves for surfing. However, during warmer, calmer weather, the beaches are a great place to relax and soak up the sun!"

Caroline Angibaud

Caroline Angibaud, the Vendée queen of stand up paddle (SUP)

Caroline is a former world Wave-Ski champion and began her sporting career on a surfboard. Today, she is also a champion of stand up paddle.

Caroline says she began SUP surfing entirely by chance. "I really wasn't very good", says Caroline, "The board was too big and too heavy...I was clumsy". But Caroline persisted. In October 2011, she took part in a competition in California. She managed to catch the wave and finished second, behind the best female in the world in SUP. In 2013, she was the French Stand Up Paddle champion, and first on the Coupe de France circuit. In the World cup, she was first in Abu Dhabi, third in Huntington Beach, second in la Torche and fourth in the World Championships.

Why is the Vendée particularly well suited to stand up paddle?
For Caroline, Vendée is ideal for SUP. "Here we have different types of waves, wind and exposure. You can always find somewhere to practice. We don't always get the perfect wave, but it's very technical", she explains. Incidentally, in Olonne sur Mer, the Octosup school specialises in teaching SUP.

Simon, 26 ans, moniteur de surf  aux Sables d'Olonne

Simon, 26, surf instructor in Sables d'Olonne

Simon shares his favourite surf spots in the Vendée.

My girlfriend and I both have jobs connected to the sea. She is a lifeguard and I'm a surf instructor...and we love the sea. In summer after a day at work, we meet up and go out for a session in the best spots where the waves are easy to ride, like on the beach in la Terrière to La Tranche sur Mer. But, when the surf's not up, we choose the stand up paddle option and take to the sea together.