2016 was a whirlwind year for Pierre-Louis - a world title win, broken bones, a heartbreaking death, and new life, all in the space of 12 months. While we livestreamed one of the greatest ever bodyboarders on a clean run towards stardom, behind the scenes, Costes was forced to overcome countless hurdles that would stop many in their tracks. In the new issue of Movement, we took a trip to the desert with the fabled Frenchman and got the lowdown on the world title story you’ve never heard (the following is an outtake from his 16-page profile from Issue 43):
All images credited and copyright © to Josh Tabone.
A Frenchman walks into a bar. The bar is in an unremarkable country town - the kind of place where locals throw a suspicious glance at fresh meat, especially the European variety - and the Frenchman is Pierre Louis Costes (not that anyone there knows or cares). Costes and company have just wrapped the photo shoot you see in these here pages and after a long day in the unrelenting Australian sun, they’re in the mood for a cold one. Costes greets the bartender; asks, “What beers do you have?” The bartender returns his question with a look of confusion, realises the guy is serious, then proceeds to read out the names of the four beers on tap, as can clearly be seen by the large, labelled tap handles between the two men. Costes takes a minute to consider each option. “I’ll take a glass of red wine”.
Let’s take that anecdote and run with it. Costes has used this same approach over and again throughout his career, each time with varying success. He has remained stalwart in his ability to weigh up the options in front of him and, should the situation call for it, confidently turn them down in favour of his own idea. Sometimes he ends up with a glass of merlot, other times a world title.
Take last year’s win in the Canaries. A few days before the competition, a fruitful pulse lit up the coastline; Costes took the opportunity for a bit of last-minute practice. With a few smaller waves under his belt at a local wave, the increasingly confident 27-year-old dropped into a bigger set, but came undone; he went face-first into a sharp slab of reef. “I rubbed my face off the bottom and my arm hit my ribs really hard, but I kept surfing because the waves were so good,” he recalls. “When I came out of the water and my wife saw my face, she was pretty upset with me.” The real problem - aside from facial lacerations and an unhappy wife - was the lingering pain in his chest (later discovered to be a broken rib). It continued to intensify in the days leading up to the competition. Costes weighed up his options: a visit to the doctor would result in a proper diagnosis, but there was a solid chance he’d be told to drop out of the competition. The alternative was to wash down a few paracetamols and push through the pain. Well, you know what happened next.
To read the rest of this story, buy a copy of Movement 43. Now.