OuiSurf started out as a joke. “Launching a web site about surfing in Quebec sounds a bit like a joke, doesn’t it? My friends poked fun at me. I was told I’d never find sponsors. I was told there was no surfing community in Quebec,” confides Benjamin Rochette, the producer and actor who dreamed up OuiSurf. And yet. Five years later, OuiSurf is a TV show on the Évasion specialty channel (devoted to travel and adventure), two web platforms, tens of thousands of active and loyal fans, a tightly knit team, and still lots of passion. For Benjamin, OuiSurf owes its success to its mantra: tell true stories that trigger genuine and unforgettable emotions.
Benjamin is a skateboarder and snowboarder who first went surfing when he was 25. He went to El Salvador to join a friend and launched a surfing camp there. For three years, he spent his days surfing, meeting new people, and hearing travel stories. He even organized a Quebec Open, a surfing competition for surfers from Quebec, which he captured on film and posted online. “I love travel, video, and surfing, so the idea for OuiSurf came quite naturally,” says Benjamin.
The initial version of OuiSurf.ca saw the light of day in 2010. It was a French-language site focused on surfing on which Benjamin produced and broadcast his own web TV show whose goal was to explore travel destinations and foreign cultures through surfing trips across the globe. After several seasons and in response to growing public interest, the TV show “OuiSurf en Asie” (“OuiSurf in Asia”) was developed and broadcast on Évasion in 2013. Each show attracted more than 80,000 viewers eager to follow Benjamin and his acolyte Jean-Michel Péloquin on their journeys. “It was a risky gamble, because when you do things for the web, you’re free. There are no constraints, no traditional programming formats like on television. Our formats, our ways of filming with GoPro and drones, our ways of editing to showcase the stories, all of this was unique. We wanted every episode to be like a film about surfing,” mentions Benjamin, who went on to produce “OuiSurf en Afrique” for the show’s second season.
The surfing community was hooked and asked for more. A new web platform called Ouisurf.tv was created to share all the content produced by the team during the film shoots. By posting regularly on social networks and responding to fan mail, the OuiSurf team has succeeded in creating really close ties with its community.
The team has plenty of projects on the go! These include a new version of OuiSurf.ca in development. The new platform, which is beginning to address the English-speaking public, will bring together video, news, and articles on surfing and travel in general. As a way of informing more people in Quebec, a café dedicated to travel and surfing has just opened in Montreal. It’s called Café September. It’s a creative space that includes a workshop where you can build your own surfboard.