Mr 3 Bay, Patrice Remoiville, a prominent figure on the French SUP racing circuit Race. 6 years ago Patrice gave up a top position at BIC Sports, at the ripe old age of 50 in order to devote himself to his business, 3 Bay Paddle. Most 50 years olds would not take the risk but this was statement of his drive, passion and pursuit of perfection towards his 3 bay brand. A risk that paid off with the 3 bay brand now recognized in France and in Europe as the benchmark for high quality custom boards. TotalSUP talks to “Roro” as he is affectionally known, to find out why it is not all about SUP racing for him and his vision for the 3 bay brand!
Hello Patrice, How did all begin?
56 years ago I was born in Bayonne, South West France, now I live in Bono, a small Breton village, on the Morbihan Bay and the Auray river. I am proud to be from Landes, Basque-Landes. It was there that I first got involved in water sports including sailing, rowing, windsurfing, and fishing.
My passion for shaping started when I was 16, whilst working as a dinghy and windsurf instructor, at the local nautical center. There I was introduced to the use of composite materials so I could repair my surfboards, and to make my first windsurf board.
For the last 30 years you have been working in the design and production of extreme sports equipment, can you tell us about your journey from there to 3 bay?
It all started with my childhood friend, Pierre Cazadieu “ZAKA”. We used to shape and layer surfboards in the attic of his mothers’ shop, and then we would send it to my dads’ factory for sanding. It just started as thing for ourselves and our friends, but then it grew. In 1987, at 22 years old we turned it into a proper business called Koungat, at the time we were based out of Vieux-Boucau. From there it just grew, all through word of mouth, our customers would come from far and wide.
Then in 1990, right at the time I became a dad I got the chance to join the up with the famous Australian shaper Maurice Cole in Capbreton, and work for his brand Aussiegor. This was where other surfing brands such as Rip Curl and Quiksilver were born. But it was a fairly difficult period trying to manage and keep the business afloat.
Then in 1993 in I got a job working for Pukas, Spain as a laminator, specializing in the mass production of surfboards. I feel my turning point came in 1994, when I returned to Capbreton, there I set up my own lamination subcontracting workshop called Roro Glass, working along side surfboard shapers. Flash forward a few years to 1998 I created and developed the Surfoam brand, at the time the only French based manufacturer of raw materials, specificially for surfboard shapers. However in 2007/2008 I was forced to close it down, as a direct result of the Californian based parent company closing down. It was at this point that I lost everything, including my tools and workshop. So I was unable to work.
So I decided to go traveling, I went to Asia and Oceania. I then created AVP paddleboards, based out of Cap Breton. It started small, and focused on solely on the SUP surf market. After that I recruited by BIC sports in Vannes, France, and quickly rose to the position of SUP product manager. I was put in charge of the sales and design of all the SUP products, as well as focusing on promotion. and marketing. It was probably a bit too much for one person but I stayed there until the spring of 2015. I would say that it is partly thanks to the global reputation of SUP race shapers acquired at BIC that I am where I am today!
3Bay Paddle celebrates its 6th birthday. Can you talk us through the creation of this brand? How have you managed to compete against other SUP race brands?
3 bay is a tribute to the 3 spots I hold dear to my heart: the Morbihan Bay where I live, the Bay of Bayonne where I grew up and Byron Bay in Australia.
But, yes it will be six years at the end of 2021. I am well known for shaping SUP race boards, but I also shape SUP Surf boards and enjoy the complexity of shaping these boards. It just happens that I have more orders for SUP race boards than SUP surf boards! In fact I think that I excel most in shaping SUP surf boards. Unfortunately, this is not widely known. It can be said that the SUP surf market in France is dominated by SUP surf boards imported from China, cheaper boards that are more attractive to customers.
My ability to compete amongst the other SUP brands is also because I developed my business project around a specific tooling process for SUP RACE boards dimensions because of this I am able to manufacture boards up to 20’ long.
3 Bay has a strong following 3 Bay in Brittany and France. What makes 3 Bay boards unique, is it the values that surround the brand? How do you manage to convert so many people to the 3 Bay following?
I actually don’t really know how this all happened. However, many of my clients have become friends, and they’ve created a sort of 3 Bay owner’s brotherhood. The 3 Bay weekend in July is a like a mass gathering that brings together “the 3 Bay family”. When they come for the weekend we visit the workshop and see how the boards are made, it really allows the customers to get to know the processes involved.
All 3 Bay boards are unique. During the 3 bay weekend my clients meet together, to compare and discuss our next board. Also when people order their 3 bay boards I make myself available for everything including testing the board in the Gulf of Morbihan. During that weekend we really come together to repair, share and plan new adventures, for instance a trip to a competition.
Added onto these factors I see customers becoming more eco aware of the process. More and more often the label “Made In Breizh” is much so more important and eco-responsible than a SUP RACE board “made in Vietnam or China”.
As well as the SUP race boards we have seen, 3 Bay boards also developSUP surf, rescue, prone paddle and more recently foil, SUP foil and Wing. How do you see the brand evolving in 2021 / 2022?
Developing SUP SURF, prone and rescue boards is in my DNA, something I have been doing since it all began back in Hossegor. However prone remains a marginal sport. In 2019 I had a big order with the French SNSM (French Lifeboat and Lifesaving Association). But since then I haven’t had many orders, only 4 or 5 French districts ordered some RESCUE Paddleboards each year.
I have done SUP FOIL boards for a long time, but it is now Wing Foil that is on the increase. Although things have slowed down, only because I have been manufacturing SUP RACEs. However recently I decided to take it more seriously, which has forced me to take on extra staff. The new wing board model is great, but I need to work on my marketing for the product.
In general I am concerned with the absence young paddlers in SUP racing, something I would sincerely like to help solve, I have thought about developing SUP race specific boards, at an affordable price, for young paddlers.
How can we get one of your boards?
3 Bay boards are made to order, you must contact me personally at the workshop, by phone, email or on the website www.3bay.fr.
3 Bay is not distributed in stores, it is only sold direct.
You are very present on the French SUP race circuit both as an exhibitor but also as a participant. What events do you like the most?
I try to et on the water 2 to 3 times a week in the summer, whether to SUP RACE or SUP SURF and at least once or twice in winter. I participate less and less often in races. I have become more selective, with a preference for long distances as part of a relay team. The Dordogne Intégrale is my favorite race, as well as both the 10 hour Vassivière and the 6 hour l’Erdre endurance race. I also like big challenges. If I had the time I would like to to cross France on a SUP without assistance,just to say hello to friends.
At times competitions are the perfect opportunity to exhibit, try out and sell my boards and accessories.
The young Breton champion Anais Guyomarch joined a small 3 Bay team a few months ago, which is made up of Florent Dode, Marie-Elphège Julienne and Arthur Daniel, all of which have had successful results. Is there a strategy around Team 3Bay, or is it mostly a family affair?
It is less team strategy and more about friendship. 3 Bay will never be able to pay a salary to pro competitors, there are many sponsorship contracts, but they are rarely signed. Marie-Elphège Julienne stopped competiting a year go, and Arthur Daniel who is based in Reunion, seems to prefer surfing waves over 10 feet!
Florent Dode took a step back several months ago due to the arrival of a second child, but it seems the competition juices are increasing in him again.
As for Anaïs Guyomarch, she joined the 3 Bay team last March. I’m very happy and quite lucky for that, because I think she will dominate the international women’s SUP RACE scene very quickly. However to be able to compete in major international races, such as in the USA, she will have to find additional sponsors to allow her to compete internationally.
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