Johanne DEFAY

Johanne received a grant to finance her participation in professional surfing competitions.


What is your sporting background? 

I've always been involved in sports and I like to exercise. My father is very sporty and my mother loves nature. I used to do gymnastics when I was little, but I stopped that and started surfing when I was seven or eight. I've never stopped since. At the same time, I went to the dance conservatory (contemporary and classical), but having started surfing competitions at 11, I had to make a choice around the age of 13. Everything happened very quickly: my first sponsor, more and more competitions (local, regional, European, international), my entry into the Reunion Island centre, and selections for the French team. Until 2013, I juggled between the national and world junior/open circuits. In 2013, I won my third European junior title and reached my ultimate goal, my qualification for the World Tour. 2014, my first year on the WCT, at the age of 20, was great. The first stages were difficult to manage next to the world's best. I went from ranking last after the fourth stage to 8th in the world after the last stage in Maui. So I was crowned Rookie of the Year. I am now in Trestle, California, for the seventh stage of the 2015 season. This year, the level has increased hugely, it is fantastic to be able to evolve in this environment. I am confident, thanks to my victory this summer at Huntington beach during the US Open Surfing Championships. Currently 6th in the rankings, my goal of being in the world’s top 5 is getting closer.


How do you see your profession today?


My profession is a dream, but it has obvious disadvantages. I'm living my dream and that's a huge opportunity.


How do you see yourself in five years? In 10 years?

In five years, I would still like to be on the WCT.  But in 10 years’ time, I would rather go back to a more normal life, to be with my family and friends. It is never easy to succeed in a second career. I like to do a lot of things and I admit that I don’t have much of an idea of what I’ll do next, I’m not sure yet, so I'd rather not talk about it.


This interview was conducted in 2015

Photo credit: Emilie Arfeuil