Viña del Mar is a city with 350,000 inhabitants, located on Chile’s Pacific coast. It is part of an urban cluster of 5 cities (Valparaíso, Concón, Quilpué, Villa Alemana and Viña del Mar), which for the purposes of studies is known as GRAN VALPARAISO, with a total of more than 1,500,000 inhabitants. It is just 120 km from the capital, providing a captive audience for its tourist industry as well as other activities. The city began to develop in the year 1874 as a sleeper town for Puerto de Valparaíso, the country’s biggest port, but it currently boasts the highest level of economic activity of all five cities, with a very strong hotel tourism sector and popular beaches. With over 30 km of coastline suitable for all kinds of nautical activities, SURFING features very prominently as a tourist activity and competitive sport here.
The city has 4 very active beaches for the practice of water sports. “Reñaca” is its most famous beach and has the best waves for surfing. This beach hosts major surfing events, including competitions on national and Latin American circuits, and it will also soon be hosting WSL and PASA events, among others.
There are surfing schools at “La Boca”, a beach located 10 km to the north of Reñaca. There are over 20 surf schools at La Boca, most of which are official, which makes it the most popular beach for recreational surfing and lessons.
Surfing started out in the city in the 1980s with a handful of local surfers and then boomed in the 90s. Today, the city is home to more than 1000 surfers in all its variants, including bodyboarding, long/short board surfing, and SUP. Viña del Mar is one of the strongest surfing cities in Chile and is set to host surfing events at the Pan American Games 2023. On account of its proximity to Chile’s capital, Santiago, every weekend the beaches of Viña del Mar and the surrounding area draw increasing numbers of surfers.
It has around 12 specialist surf shops, and the sport is now no longer seasonal but instead is enjoyed all year round.
The city is interested in capitalising on its experience in tourism and exchanging destinations with the other city members of the network. It is the top destination for the central part of Chile and Argentina and has the most active summer in Chile. It hosts the Latin American International Song Contest, which is shown in many countries, giving it greater visibility. By promoting sports in general and in particular recreational/competitive surfing, it is set to become a venue for the Pan America Games in 2023, focusing chiefly on surfing events.
Consequently, the city will be hosting one of the biggest sporting events after the Olympics, and so we are also particularly interested in any experience the network’s city members have in hosting large-scale sporting events, which will be highly useful to the success of these games and surfing in particular.
We are particularly interested in tools that offer accurate measurements and readings of the economic impact of surfing. In relation to High Performance, the city will be constructing a High Performance Surf Centre (CAR SURF), and the experience of Viana do Castelo is crucial to the success of such an initiative.
One notable case is that of a surfboard manufacturer that works with prison inmates to make boards, which are then supplied to local and now national retailers.
As part of the preparations for the Pan America Games 2023, a project has emerged, led by the city’s local surf club (CAR SURF) to acquire a state-owned property, presenting the project through Chile’s Ministry for Sport, so that it might be replicated throughout the rest of Chile, depending on its outcomes. This project incorporates a series of national innovation sub-projects, such as wave, solar and wind power to supply the energy it consumes. Its furniture is being designed using post-consumer plastic waste, which might even be used in the floors and ceilings. It is currently in the research and trialling stage and incorporates control and monitoring software. It is also being developed under the advisement of an accessibility advisory firm, to take into consideration our adapted surfing team, among other factors.
- The idea is that wave energy could power a future surf tournament, capitalising on the centre’s experience and illuminating the wave that contains it (Project TEPOTAI).
Viña del Mar and its nearby towns and cities are home to a captive audience, being just 1.5 hours away from the capital with close to 7 million people. They also attract tourism from the nearby Andes in Argentina, which brings tourists to the city every summer. The surf school area is home to more than 20 surf schools, which operate all year round, along with a cluster of culinary excellence, which makes this the most popular area in terms of surf lessons and recreation.
There are around 12 surf shops, which sell specialist gear and merchandise. There are several smaller surfboard manufacturers, but of particular note is one social integration project that links board manufacturing to the region’s largest prison, Tablas COA.
Valpo Surf Project, Olas para todos, Temahaku, Escuela de surf refinería petróleo Concón.
There are schools specialising in social integration, financed by means of national funds, along with others dedicated to surfers with disabilities, where the majority of members on the national squad are trained. For example, the Viña Surfing Club is home to almost 50% of the national adapted side.
The city’s universities are gradually integrating surfing into their sporting activities, and the School Olympics, taking place in the city in 2019, will also feature surfing as a discipline, with the hope that each school will be able to present a side.
Concón is the first ever protected cardio beach, led by a private firm, Waterman, where lifeguards and those in charge of resuscitation equipment work in direct collaboration with surf schools and instructors. This model has been replicated throughout the country.
Another firm is training surfers in CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), providing training to instructors around the country, which is changing the professional profile of surfers.
- Viña del Mar Pro.
- Volcom Sunset Session, 3 dates.
- Sup and Longboard national tournament, 2 dates.
- Development of Adapted Surfing, the basis for selecting the national side.
- Future WSL (QS1500) test game Panam23.
Regular courses are held for surfing instructors from all around the country in the city of Viña del Mar, with the main aim of:
- Unifying and standardising the country’s surf school system.
- Accrediting the instructors from each school through the level 1 surfing instructor course, taught by the International Surfing Association.
- Improving the national system of surf schools, instructing teachers in the excellence of world surfing.
- Providing a high quality and responsible service on the part of all Chile’s surf schools.
Once the Surf Training Centre is completed by the end of 2020, this will also become a venue for the training described above.
Contacto WSCN en Arica (Chile)
Jorge Oliva Ceballos – President the Viña Surfing Club – Member of the Chilean Surf Federation