From the Gironde beaches to the lagoons of Polynesia, via New Zealand or Australia, on assignment or in competition, Pierre Lopez paddles, swims and studies to save lives, and to better live his own. Humbly, he continues to learn every day from his peers and the ocean, the wind, the waves and the currents.
"Swimming, swimming, swimming... It's my whole life" declares Pierre Lopez about his childhood and adolescence, punctuated by training sessions in the chlorinated pools of the St-Nazaire Atlantique Natation Club (swim club). "I was born in Paris and grew up in the Loire-Atlantique region, but the ocean remained a complete stranger to me until I passed a Swimmer-Lifeguard diploma to watch over the beaches.“ Pierre was quickly placed at the first aid station on one of the most dangerous beaches on the Aquitaine coast, Lacanau-Océan. A summer job that would definitely ignite the flame of his professional future, to become a lifeguard all year round. To do this, Pierre wanted to learn from the best. At 19, he set off with his backpack and a pair of fins to Australia's Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane. The French rookie earned all his lifeguard diplomas a second time, trained in Australian techniques, and even tried his hand at lifesaving sport events. After two years on Australian beaches, Pierre returned briefly to France in 2013, and then took off again for a year of adventure in Piha Beach, New Zealand.
“When I returned to France for good, after three years of incredible experiences around the world, I went back to Saint Nazaire”. He ran into a friend, Éric Sery, who is a long-distance paddler. “He was the one who put me on a real 12-foot Prone Paddleboard for the first time and introduced me to Down Wind. “
“It was three degrees in the middle of December with 30 knots of wind, heavy seas, and the water was brown where the river met the sea... We grabbed the boards, and that's when I said to myself, I want to do this for the rest of my life. ”
After this revelation, Pierre immersed himself, body and soul, in the Waterman culture. “I didn’t come from that background at all. Even today, I still find it hard to see myself as the watermen I admire, the Californian, Australian or Hawaiian legends of the discipline who shine in the Molokai (a famous Hawaiian paddle race), but also the Frenchmen who paved the way like Ludo Dulou, who has always been kind to me. When you arrive in a new sport, when you join a team as prestigious as OXBOW, you need references, models ... Ludo has played and continues to play the role of mentor for me. "
A real workaholic, Pierre enjoys isolating himself from the world to prepare his body and mind to paddle long distances and to manage emergency situations. Chosen to join the Dragon 33 Nageur-Sauveteurs Héliportés (a Civilian Security Helicopter-Swimmer-Rescuer Unit in Gironde,France), he now volunteers from May to September alongside the doctors from the SAMU (Emergency medical help). “I'm a member of a crew specializing in aquatic rescue. With the Dragon squad, I have experienced very intense moments that have convinced me that taking care of people is a true vocation. That's why I'm studying at Bordeaux's University Hospital Nurse Training Institute."
2017 proved to be a good year for the young waterman. In June, he took part in a round of the Waterman Tahiti Tour, where he would return a few months later, in December, to take part in the IRONMANA, a legendary competition for the paddling community. “It was a crazy year! Everything went smoothly, thanks in large part to some exceptional encounters I made. This is how I could relaunch a project that has been stuck in my head for two years, a long-distance paddle race between Lacanau and the Dune du Pilat.” Called the Dune Paddle Crossing, this oceanic crossing on a Prone Paddleboard took place in 2019. “I had already done this solo crossing, so I asked myself many questions like, why am I doing this? Why now? The answer is simple, for the reward when you arrive at the tip of Cap Ferret, when you surf the waters of the Bassin d'Arcachon, and finish facing the most beautiful dune in the world. The fatigue accumulated along the journey increases the intensity of the moment tenfold. It is then that you take the full measure of the beauty of the surroundings and the interest in doing the Dune Paddle Crossing. "