Over the past couple of years, surfing has seen a resurgence out of Reunion Island, following 11 fatal sharks attacks in as many years.
In all, there have been 56 total attacks since 1913, with 27 of them ending in loss of life. That's a lot across the island's 20-mile coastline, which eventually led to surfing being banned by 2013.
It wasn't until 2019 that people really picked up surfing again. But one place where it never really went away was La Jetée – which just so happens to be one of the best waves in the world for airs and earlier this year, Eli Beukes, Luke Slijpen and Reunion local Allain Matthieu Guillaume took a tour over to that side of the island in order to put that theory to the test.
The result? “It's the best air wave in the world,” Luke said.
But what does this all mean for the mentality and ethos around sharks for our French contingent in the Indian Ocean? “Shark attacks are still a concern and surfing outside of the designated protected areas is technically illegal, but there had not been an attack in three years at the time of our trip,” said filmer of the above edit and all-round South African hero Alan Van Gysen.
“Scientists can’t say with certainty why, but there is important research being done and the establishment of protected surfing areas at places like St Leu have made getting in the water safer.”
Nowadays at shark highways like St Leu, lifeguards will go out on skis to help scare them away. “The local surfing and lifeguard community have done an incredible job of rallying together with scientists to create these water patrols and establish a number of protocols to try minimise the risk of an attack as much as possible at these spots,” said Alan.
Anyway, for a peep behind the curtain, hit play on the vid above.