Translated by
Nicola Mira
Jun 2, 2016
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Frédéric Basse (Eurosima): "I believe in Europe's ability to offer something different"

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Jun 2, 2016

On 27th May, Frédéric Basse chaired his last AGM at Eurosima, the association for the promotion of the European board sport industry. It was time for the former director of Rip Curl Europe to step down, having decided to hand over his responsibilities during his fifth mandate. Wilco Prins, currently General Manager of Rip Curl Europe, has been elected as Basse's successor. Interviewed by FashionMag, Basse explained his departure, analysed the association's evolution, looked at the challenges facing the industry... and confessed that his passion for surfing is intact.

Frédéric Basse has left Eurosima - Eurosima

FashionMag: This was your last AGM as chairman of Eurosima. Why did you decide to resign?

Frédéric Basse: I will never be far away, should the need arise. But it was my fifth mandate, and I have chaired the association for nine years. I belong to the founders’ generation. We are all between 50 and 65 years old. I think that a new generation of 30-40 year old managers can contribute its vision to the industry, and begin to work together. The second important point is that it is now three years since I've acted in any executive role at Rip Curl. I'm less focused on the industry's problems, less in touch with distribution channels. This could begin to affect the association's choice of projects.

FM: Having a project seemed indispensable in your nine years of chairmanship?

FB: No. What stands out for me is that the association lives on despite the economic crisis, and that people have recognised its work. Structural projects are what counts. The creation of the Olatu Leku centre, which is fostering the industry in our region, is one of them. It was a tough project, and communities didn't believe in it at the time. But we succeeded in bringing it to completion with the opening in 2012.

FM: Do you see potential among the young brands, and in those supported by Eurosima in the last few years?

FB: There is for example Pride, created by Imanol Arrizabalaga, a world leader in high-end bodyboards. The issue is thornier in apparel, where I wage one of my battles. There is a cultural hegemony in the surfing industry. As soon as a US brand comes to life, it reaches out to the European market. I think we can reverse this logic. In Europe we have 40 years of experience, two generations of managers, professionals with international honours, as well as product specialists, designers and creative professionals. We must gain in confidence. What Pierre Agnès has done at Quiksilver is a formidable example. He fought to bring back to the Basque country some key functions, including product development. Europeans have a strong travel culture and a great ability to adapt. I believe in Europe's mentality, in the ability of Europeans to offer something different. The potential is huge, since the surfing market is only starting out in countries such as China, India or in South America.

FM: What will be the association's next initiatives?

FB:  We are working to ensure that the industry will have a presence at the next Paris Nautical show (3rd-11th December). The idea is to create a surf shop showcasing about 300 boards and related equipment, and to establish a relationship with the general public. I've been urging the industry's top managers: we must reach out to consumers.

FM: What will you be doing now?

FB: I've ordered a board. I really want to surf. I'm heading out to Central America with my wife, and I want to make the most of the fact I can still surf. I also want to discover South America and some parts of North America. It will take a few months, but I'll stay close to Eurosima. Besides, I'm working on a brand project. I've said it before, I believe in the potential a French brand could have.


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