The Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour is an elite men's competition with the top 36 professional surfers competing in 11 events around the world. Quiksilver Pro France, is one of the annual highlights and takes place on a six mile stretch of the Landes coast north of Biarritz.
Pro France 2011 organisers, Quiksilver, used a number of Welsh companies to cover the event - Boomerang + were chosen to produce the coverage, NEP Cymru were chosen as the broadcast facilities provider while Gorilla provided post production. The competition was followed by tens of thousands of spectators on the beach and a global audience of 3-4 million watched the webcast. Highlights were also shown on conventional broadcast television on the Eurosport channel.
The organisers, Quiksilver, needed quicker response times from its broadcast teams as the competition moved between the various locations on the beach. It wanted a more robust technical solution to its previous broadcast of major events and asked Boomerang & NEPC to come up with a different set-up to cover the action. Both companies had worked together successfully on previous surfing competitions, albeit smaller-scale ones e.g. Pro Portugal & Junior Pro Newquay
Covering Quicksilver Pro France, like any major surfing competition, presented a considerable logistical challenge. Due to the vagaries of wind and weather there are 8 surfing locations along the six mile stretch of the Cote D’Argent and up to three of those may be used on any given day. NEP Cymru was able to reduce the time taken to de-rig the OB, move to a new location and re-rig to just one and a half hours.
Five independent feeds from the OB (NEPC HD3) were routed via fibre-optic cables to a Land Rover parked on top of the sand dunes and from there over 4 x wireless links to a media village based in Hossegor. Over 3000m of specially specc'd cables were used.
The media village was a collection of portacabins with production and technical areas and a high speed internet connection for webcasting. Four independent mixes were produced simultaneously, an international feed and English, French and Portuguese complete stereo mixes for each.
NEP Cymru designed and supplied a new “wave camera for trials” and a further radio linked camera for beach coverage. Other cameras included a specially rigged live jet ski camera to follow the competitors in the water and a high speed camera to catch the quick footwork of the world's most skilled surfers. The wave camera enables a surfing cameraman to cover angles never seen before from in the water with four to six foot (1 - 1.8 metre) waves.