Reunion Island: waves and plenty of sharks

Mathieu Schiller, former 1994 French bodyboarding champion, has passed away after being attacked by a shark in Saint-Paul, Reunion Island. The death of the rider and lifeguard has shocked his friends, family, and the world bodyboarding community. The body of the rider hasn't been found.

Schiller was an experienced bodyboarder who had founded his "Surf's Cool", at Boucan Canot.

World bodyboarding champion Amaury Lavernhe is deeply saddened by the sudden death of his friend.

"This attack affects me because it was someone I knew very well. He was my idol when I was young", said Lavernhe.

"I have an autograph from Matthew Schiller at home. Today, he was a very good friend."

"Last week we had an evening together for the anniversary of a friend, and it was really great. I can't believe what happened."

When Mathieu Schiller was attacked, the red flag was up on the beach, which raised the question of board sports and the respect for the swimmer's rules.

"The red flag is for swimmers. There was a swell of about two meters, so it was dangerous for Boucant Canot swimmers and not at all for the surf", explains Lavernhe.

"We surf in these conditions for most of the year. The water was clear. It was three in the afternoon, and I think that there was no danger."

Last July, the world bodyboarding champion had warned and pleaded for more prevention.

"The first step should have been made in February when there was the first attack on a surfer. There are ways to live with sharks, and many countries are doing it, like South Africa, Hawaii, Australia", adds Amaury.

Saint-Gilles is living in emotional times.

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