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Publié le 18/11/2014, by : JH

Arnaud de Rosnay Gentleman from extreme

The automn book for sea adventure lovers

If you are an enthusiast, a lover of the ocean, and firmly believe that life should be hectic and conducted all at once, then the book "Arnaud de Rosnay, Gentleman of the Extrem", written by surfer journalist Olivier Bonnefon, recently published by Editions Atlantica should be your next book to read sitting by the fire in automn.



This book traces the existence of this dandy surfer loving the ocean, water sports, the wildest expeditions, great causes, and which has never ceased to burn life by the two ends. Thirty years later, his death remains a mystery as this fascinating book tries to unravel. But also introduce the many faces of this man pioneer of water sports, extreme adventurer and eccentric dandy.



November 1984 Arnaud de Rosnay mysteriously disappears in the China Sea on its windsurf board. He launched a new crazy bet, one more among its many challenges in the boardsports world. IIn those days, the predictions of the politician and visionary diplomat Alain Peyrefitte mentionned in his book "When China will awake" are not yet realized, and Arnaud de Rosnay is the only Westerner with his surfer look to cruise in the lost villages of the Chinese coast, still under communist dictatorship.

He decided to cross the China sea from  Fujian in China to sail the murky waters of the Strait of Formosa to Taiwan, which at the time was a military zone under control. This country does not like Western with long hair and original ideas. The Chinese authorities therefore refused him a permission to benefit, as each of its crossings, from an accompanying boat. He therefore left without means of communication, to travel the 170 miles from one of the most dangerous straits of the world. Why did he leave without taking a leash ? Just a distress mirror and a whistle. Why not have any tags or flares, while waves of 10 feet and a wind of 35 knots are planned ? We will not see him again. Accident, unconsciousness, military blunder ?


Arnaud was a being with a character real different from his reasonable brother, the famous scientist and renowned surfer Joel de Rosnay, or daughter of the latter, novelist Tatiana de Rosnay, but like all members of the family they all love the ocean and great challenges.

We find in this book a character who beyond his beauty was someone funny, irreverent, provocative, annoying, and those who judged or mocked him were certainly jealous of his incredible aura.


Although he sometimes liked a little too much to be under flashes, he was a simple man who loved to challenge the established order and dreamed of bringing people together.
In 1965, he organized the first original competition around an unknown sport in France, and won the first skateboard championship at the Trocadero Plazza in Paris. Fourteen years later, in 1979, he connects Nouadhibou in Mauritania to Dakar, standing on his Speed Sail (a windsurf on tires with wheels). He crosses 1,400 kilometers of desert in twelve days and then started his first set of challenges : Sport will be a bridge between the political and cultural misunderstandings of the world.


Excellent surfer from the Basque coast in Southwest France, he discover his passion for windsurfing and decided to cross all the straits of the planet, motivated by the shield lifted from the different governments of countries, in which he sees a sign of an extra challenge, the opportunity to move the lines.
He began crossing the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia in 1979 in icy waters, with a sail displaying the colors of Soviet and American flags, like a noose thumb to the establishment.
A few months later, he tries to connect Tahiti from the Marquesas, via Tuamotu islands, only towed by a kite, or more precisely a Parafoil, the precursor of kitesurfing. The test is criticized, challenged, many don't believe to his survival and to the 900 km covered when he is found lost in the middle of the Pacific.





Then he challenges the record for crossing the English Channel in July 1981, and try new experiences all in a row. In 1984, he crossed the 160 km from Florida to Cuba, then the Strait between Perugia The island of Hokkaido in Japan and Sakhalin Island in the USSR a few months later.





His success in the small world of watersports is amazing. He travels a lot and cross the path of someone that will make him end his dandy surfing life. She will be his muse, as a passionate photographer, then they found love : Jenna, eighteen years old, the daughter of John Severson, photographer, painter, brilliant founder of Surfer magazine, met in Maui. They married in Mauritius and share the live of sea and wind lovers. They will have a daughter named Alizée. For her, he forgets his life, his mundane world, this cocktail of international jet-set life, Playboy days, sailing between sublime beauties and intriguing jealous.







In the list of its funky escapades in the heart of those freedom and creative years, we find a mixture of a journey to India with the Beatles when he was seventeen, a world tour with Marisa Berenson for Vogue, flirts with Bianca Jagger or Caroline de Monaco.
He can also be a great inventor, "Geo Gearloose". The Parafoil, Speed Sail or windsurfing would never have been known if he had not raised them to the rank of Sports.


All what's new interested him. He even invented a game, the Petrópolis, based on the Monopoly. Just have a look at the amenities of his Rolls Royce that one could meet in the parking lot of the Basque coast, with

his longboard on the roof in the 70 '. The vehicle is full of incredible technological discoveries, revolutionary for the time : Radio K7 8-track, electronic homing and transceiver, six powerful speakers, radar and ice detectors, and the must : panther fur on golden leather chairs, Indian prints on the rear doors and a fridge with champagne and caviar for its meetings or aperitif facing the sunset and waves.






He also knows to be a great public relations and businessman dressed in Jet setter. He managed to sell solar rinks to emirs of the Persian Gulf, to invite Brigitte Bardot, stars and royalty, to promote Mauritius island or a luxurious resort in Mexico under sumptuous parties organized by local governments. At the heart of its success, he married in 1973, Isabel, daughter of billionaire Jimmy Goldsmith, but divorce quickly.




His taste for disguise and party and this aspect of his character brings him many critics. His detractors build him a costume of "magazine Sportsman" and paint a picture of a "Head slaps Dandy", which displeases those "do-gooders" spirits and jealous of his success. He is sensitive to these criticisms and probably the load in power of his adventures and challenges, in response to the media lynching, has contribute to his lost ?










His sporting achievements in the desert or upon Oceans, his life of passions and great encounters have build the frame of this book and the tragic romance of life of Arnaud de Rosnay.











He would have nearly 70 years now and we can imagine him having the soul and the spirit of Cousteau or Paul Emile Victor, an upsetting hero,  an aristocrat of these oceans that he loved and who washed him off in secret.








About the author


Working for several years in tourism in France and abroad, Jean-Hervé Cristol (aka Jean Révé) also has a large number of kilometer mark traveling around Planet Surf  in search of endless summer waves.
In 2004 he created Destination Surf, the first agency specialized in Surf Travel , then Endless Summer a blog with tips, info and travel stories, in order to enjoy and share this rewarding experience with all surf travelers. → Learn more

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