At the origin, Atlantic Watersports Games were born out of a desire of several European Celtic cities and regions from the Atlantic Arc to promote marine activities through an international competition for young people. Since 1995, between 300 and 400 young athletes compete each year in sailing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, surf lifesaving, open waters swimming and fin swimming, to place their region or their city on the highest step of the podium.
The Atlantic Games are part of the events which, each year, highlight the maritime and nautical assets of the regions of the European Atlantic Area. The common points between these countries and regions are numerous:
Our countries and regions have, without a doubt, a common destiny, linked to their maritimity. The Games actively showcase traditional and new water sports as well as the main sites where they are practised in the Atlantic area. At the first European marine leisure conference that took place at the end of October 2011 in Brest, France, the Atlantic Games were highlighted as a key event in the development of water sports and Atlantic maritime culture.
Supported by the Atlantic Arc Commission, the Atlantic Cities Conference and the European Commission this event is also strengthen the network of people involved in water sports on annual meeting basis thanks to the Erasmus + Sport - D.A.W.N Project.
In 2018, the Atlantic Games won the Atlantic Award for “Accessibility and connectivity” handed by the Atlantic Strategy Group which is composed of representatives of the five Atlantic Member States and the European Institutions (DG Mare).
The Atlantic Area is one of the world’s main marine basins used for water sports. Athletes from this area have regularly climbed the Olympic podium. The Games bring together young people of the highest regional, national and sometimes international level in water sport disciplines recognised by international sports Federations. Based on its international nature, it is an incredibly rich sporting experience for young people that are aiming for futures on the world and Olympic level. More open than the selection for the World or European Championships, the Games allow sports federations to send and watch young hopefuls’ athletes in a foreign challenge.
The Atlantic Games aim to:
Beyond the competition, for 10000 young people the Games embody the daily development of European citizenship. They have also contributed to strengthen Maritime values: Solidarity / Commitment /Sharing and Olympic Values: Excellence / Respect / Friendship.
For the 2018 edition, the Atlantic Games were back on the Pays de la Loire, and after the Vendée in 2014, it was in the Loire Atlantique and more precisely in Saint-Nazaire and Pornichet that the European Youth had set up Rendez-Vous. In June 2017, the Atlantic Water Sports Committee entrusted the organisation to the Comité Régional Olympique et Sportif des Pays de la Loire, representing the Pays de la Loire sports movement. All water sports federations and their affiliated structures (leagues, committees and local clubs) have mobilized in the implementation of the competitions in order to meet the challenge of making these Games an example of interregional cooperation in favour of an ambitious Atlantic water sports network. They have also made it possible to promote Loire know-how in the promotion and development of Nautical Activities.
From 26 to 31 August 2018, at 2 competition venues: Saint Nazaire (Grande Plage, Plage de la Courance and Etang de Bois-Joalland) and Pornichet (Port) are about 300 young athletes from 12 to 21 years old, from 15 Atlantic cities and regions (New Aquitaine, Aviles, Brittany, Cantabria, Galicia, Ireland, Viana Do Castelo, Basque Country, Pays de Loire) who have gathered to make the Atlantic Games 2018 a beautiful celebration of youth, the sea and Europe. These young athletes, girls and boys who were able to glimpse or consolidate a career as top athletes, some of whom were involved in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, were involved in 6 nautical and aquatic activities: rowing, canoeing, swimming with fins, swimming in open water, sports lifesaving and sailing. Competitions but also an opening ceremony, entertainment and a conference on the place des Sports Nautiques in the European Atlantic Area as part of the Erasmus+ Sport D. A. W. N. project, a most festive programme concocted with the collaboration of the City of Saint-Nazaire.