Original article via EFE, translated to English by the ISA.
Fernando Aguerre’s “aquatic heart” pumps salt water with renewed strength since the Argentinean (Mar del Plata, 1958), President of the International Surfing Association (ISA) knows that his sport, which will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020, will be also included in the Paris 2024 sports programme.
Pending final confirmation from the IOC, which is taken for granted, and with Los Angeles as the Olympic host in 2028, everything indicates that Surfing “can become a stable sport” in the Games. It’s a source of happiness for someone who rides a board “daily” and considers this activity a “lifestyle”.
“People wake up, brush their teeth, shave… we go to the water,” said Aguerre to Efe in a phone conversation from La Jolla (California), where the ISA has its headquarters.
Surfing’s inclusion among additional sports proposed to Paris 2024 (along with sport climbing, skateboarding and break dance) is the result of a “much more simple process” that took it to Tokyo 2020 because the path was already open.
Although he prefers “to not talk much” in the meantime about the IOC’s commission of the Olympic program — the Executive Board and the Session still need to formally approve — Aguerre is aware that he soon has to decide with the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee if the Surfing competition will be held in a French location (Biarritz, Lacanau…) or in a wavepool in the capital.
“We follow with a lot of interest the development of wave machines, but everything depends on the strategies of the organizing committee,” he said about the location.
He won’t have that dilemma in 2028, when it is very probable that Los Angeles includes surfing in its program with the endless Californian beaches among their venue options.
“Not long ago California’s State Assembly signed a law that declared Surfing as the State’s official sport. I can’t imagine that as the official sport, Surfing won’t be included in the Games. I believe that it can become a stable sport in the Olympics. Our aquatic heart has that hope,” said Aguerre.
It’s a hope that will pay off, he assured, “there have been over 12000 hours of surfing and 72000 waves that I have missed to get surfing into the Olympics”.
“It’s a calculation that my brother did. Engineer things,” he joked. “It’s probably more hours, but surfing is my love, my passion, and I felt that I had to find a way to get it to the Olympic stage.”
According to this businessman, who faced the Argentinean dictatorship in the 70’s to lift the ban on surfing in Mar del Plata, the Olympic leaders “have been very wise” to see the virtues of sports like surfing, sport climbing or skateboarding”.
“It’s three different aspects of what young people prefer, even though they are not sports practiced solely by young people. There are three very different proposed environments: beach and sea for surfing, urban streets and stairs for skateboarding, and nature and mountain for sport climbing, although right now it’s done in an indoor venue,” said the ISA President.
“They’re not only sports, the competition is the smallest part. You can practice them all your life without ever competing. They have created a culture and lifestyle that nourishes sport and nourishes from sport,” he added.
When Fernando Aguerre starts to speak about the virtues of surfing, no one can stop him.
“Surfing includes environmentalism, humanitarianism, interest in traveling and meeting people. The sea belongs to all of us, it doesn’t have an owner”, he remarked. “The sea is one of the few places where differences with other human beings disappear. This makes many people fall in love with it,” he remarked.
“In the US Navy, it’s used as a healing therapy. Doctors prescribe surfing. For me, surfing changes people,” he added.
ISA has been in a conflict with the International Canoe Federation over the governance of SUP (StandUp Paddle), as both claim as theirs, but Aguerre considers that it “always” has been in Surfing’s sphere.
In fact, two SUP events (surfing and racing) will be part of the sports programme of the Lima Pan American Games in July. It’s a discipline in clear expansion, because, according to the leader from Mar del Plata, “it’s the easiest way to feel like a surfer.”
“The issue is before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). IOC president, Thomas Bach, tried to negotiate, but the parties were unable to reach an agreement. “CAS will decide,” he said.
Tireless traveler, multi-lingual, philanthropist, surfboard collector, father of many, including triplets, Aguerre displays an extensive knowledge of beaches around the world. Among the ones in Spain, he mentioned Los Locos in Cantabria, Suances: “I loved your wave.”
Aguerre had this conversation at seven thirty in the morning in California: “my wife just walked by with her wetsuit. It’s 8 degrees (Celsius). As soon as we are finished, I’m going to the water,” and he said goodbye.