ENSTA Bretagne : Oel, sportif de haut niveau (planche à voile) et élève-ingénieur

Oël, top athlete (windsurfing) and student engineer

07 May 2020
Oël has been windsurfing since he was 10 years old. Today he is a member of the French Olympic stable and student engineer at ENSTA Bretagne. So he leads a very busy life combining lessons, viva voci, and practical work with training on the water and land (strength training) and international travel
Class of 2021
Top athlete (windsurfing) and student engineer

How long have you been sailing?

I come from a family of sailors and have always been sailing. After starting on an Optimist dinghy, at the age of 10, I turned my attention to windsurfing and loved the speed and gliding through the water. 10 years later, I am still at it and still love the feeling. 

Today, I do RS which is an olympic windsurfing class. I have been windsurfing with the senior team for 4 years now and I’m in the France Avenir Olympique team (the French Olympic Stable).

How did the 2019/2020 season go?

2020 has been a strange season because it should have been the year of the Olympic Games. So we started the season with the World Championships which started in Sorrento, in Southern Australia in February. The World Championships went very well for me as I finished 14th which is my best ever placing in the senior category.

For the rest of the season, I should have taken part in the European Cup in Hyères in April, which was, of course, canceled  and the European Championships which have been postponed until a later date which has yet to be decided.

This year should have seen the end of the RS (the Olympic surfboard since 2008) and the start of the iQfoil (surfboard with a foil), new equipment for the Olympic Games in 2024. However, with the postponement of the games until 2021, and the fact that I am Thomas Goyard’s training partner, who is a selected athlete, I will have to train on both boards.

How was the confinement for you?

During the confinement, I continued to train physically to be ready as soon as we were authorized to return to the water. Going back to training will probably mean blisters on my hands!
As all sportsmen, I can’t wait until we get the go-ahead to return to the water. At this point in time, the competition program is looking very unsure, which means the good news is we will have time to get used to the new equipment. 

Can you explain what the interest is in having the « high-level sportsman » status?

Thanks to my top athlete status, I was able to join ENSTA Bretagne to follow an especially adapted program after two 2 year bachelor degrees in Mathematics and Physics.

Today, my top athlete status has enabled me to do my engineering degree in 4 or 5 years instead of 3 so that I can fulfill my study and top level sports ambitions at the same time.

Extending the study years has freed up time for me to train every day (25 hours a week) and also means I have fewer lessons to catch up when I do competitions (2 weeks away every month). 

Is it easy to combine engineering studies and the highest level sports competitions?

Today, my main problem is finding sponsors for my season (annual budget 10 to 15 000 €) enabling me to be less financially dependent on my parents.

To sum up, high-level sport has made me become more organized, structured and forced me to anticipate all areas of my life. I have also learned to become more autonomous, to work in a team to progress and to manage priorities and stress. 

But this full life is also very exciting, I know better now what “personal investment” and “motivation” mean and I can’t imagine life without 3 or 4 sailing sessions a week, whilst studying.

Main results

  • Under 21s world vice-championship in 2016
  • 2nd in the European Cup in 2017
  • Placed in the top 15 in several senior world cups.


This year’s objective is to join the French senior team. I have to rank in the top 10 in the world championships.

In the long run, my aim is to represent France in the Olympic Games and my dream is to bring back a medal (in sailing, there is only one competitor per nation, and in France there are many, high level competitors). 

2020 season’s objectives 

Sail with the foil as much as possible to progress as quickly as possible and to be more competitive as soon as racing continues.