Confronting the Ocean on Shores of Fear

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Everyone has seen the images and they are hard to look away from. The majesty of ocean swells and the lone surfer barreling down the forward-facing surface of a breaking wave at dangerously fast speeds. All we ever know of our unknown heroes are their incredible accomplishments, or their devastating defeats.  Cedric Giscos and Lionel Franssen are hoping to change that by documenting their journey to big wave surfing. Together they are training to face their shores of fear; or as the two Frenchmen say, “les rivages de la peur.”

By Kevin Majoros 

Cedric Giscos and Lionel Franssen from Shores of Fear about to ride a wave in the ocean

The early beginnings of finding love for the ocean

Cedric Giscos grew up next to the ocean in Hossegor, France and his childhood was filled with surfing, diving, jet skiing, hiking and foraging for mushrooms. He has dedicated his life to the ocean and works in Hossegor as a surf school and swimming instructor.

Lionel Franssen credits his grandparents and their sailboat for his introduction to ocean sports. His early days in Toulon, France included being out on the water, scuba diving and spearfishing. He began surfing at age 13.

The two met while surfing close to ten years ago and stayed in touch while their lives took them in different directions. Franssen spent six years working in import/export in South Africa and he says through it all he was dreaming of big wave surfing.

Cedric Giscos and Lionel Franssen from Shores of Fear getting physical therapy

Training for big wave surfing

Two years ago, the pair began spending more time together in Hossegor with Franssen now working as an agent for a neoprene wetsuit company. In June of this year, they launched the journey that will culminate in surfing waves over ten meters high. Their target destination is Nazare, Portugal in March of 2018.

“We are committed to giving our soul and mind to make this dream happen,” says Franssen. “Every day we will be giving our best to strengthen our physical and mental fitness.”

To achieve their dream, they have taken on a regiment of training that will build their confidence along with their physical fitness. In addition to surfing, daily sports include swimming, running, cycling, boxing, rock climbing, paddle boarding, freediving and cycling.

Franssen acknowledges that being prepared mentally is just as important as their physical training. To that end they have partnered with companies who offer the best materials for extreme situations. They are also consulting with medical professionals who are providing cardiology and osteopathy check-ins and additionally are undergoing VO2 max testing.

“Gaining mental strength makes us feel like we are on the right track. If not, we will get smashed,” Franssen says. “We want to make sure everything is in place when we face our fears.”

Cedric Giscos and Lionel Franssen from Shores of Fear surfing a wave in the ocean

Documenting the journey to big wave surfing

Franssen and Giscos have been mainly training in Hossegor which has different spots where waves can range from four to six meters. Recently they travelled to Belharra, France for training where waves reach heights of over eight meters.

Their journey is being documented with the filming of a documentary/short film with narration. They are also producing a photo book.

“When you see big wave surfing, it is always about the money shot – that big wave or that big crash,” says Franssen. “We want to show what went into chasing our dream.”

Cedric Giscos and Lionel Franssen from Shores of Fear on a jetski

Facing their fears in Nazare

Nazare is a picturesque fishing village in Portugal where giant waves form because of the underwater Nazare Canyon which has a five-kilometer depth. The waves at Praia do Norte are big, heavy and powerful and the surfing is for expert surfers.

In just over three months, Franssen and Giscos will go through the registration process to enter the waters and face their shores of fear.

We have met a lot of people with positive energy on this road to Nazare who have inspired us to be our best,” Franssen says. “What is important is not the final result, but the journey.”

Follow their journey at

Shores of Fear Teaser

Monster Waves at Nazare

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Kevin Majoros portraitKevin Majoros shares stories on sports, ocean adventuring and conservation. He is based in Baltimore/Washington and travels the world as a competitive swimmer.





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