Johanne Defay remains an unheralded hero of the women’s Championship Tour. Since joining the elite ranks in 2014 she’s been a leading crusader in the push for more progressive surfing. While her big Tour victories at the Vans US Open in 2015 and Fiji in 2016 speak volumes to her threat level, her larger influence on the rest of the women’s field comes in the form of single explosive moves, like the inverted nose-pick reverse she pulled at the Roxy Pro in 2016. Defay is dangerous in any condition thanks to her big bag of tricks and her mastery of surfing’s figure-eight fundamentals. She formulated her ambitious style at home on Reunion Island, a tiny green speck in the middle of the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius.
She has won three World Surf League events, the Vans US Open of Surfing 2015, the Fiji Women’s Pro 2016 and the Uluwatu CT 2018.
Psychedelichosting President Namita Nayyar talks to Johanne Defay about her incredible journey below.
You began surfing at the young age of 8 and entered your first ever competition at 10. If given a chance, how would you like to define your surfing journey?
Being a professional athlete is such a special way of going in life. I think it’s really started because I was passionate about surfing. And all my choices, when I was young, would be towards my surfing. Trying to find a balance between with school, firends, familly, contest and travel, sponsors was my goal. The hardest thing, in my point of view, is when you don’t live a “normal” life” at a young age, even if it was normal for me to choose surfing first, you still have all theses questions coming in your mind. When I finally graduated from school, it felt so good to just focus on my surfing carrer! 2 years after I was on the World Tour and it’s been 5 years… Every day I am thankful for this life.
You workout routine?
I workout everyday… I swore not to be like my dad x). But it’s my drug, I need it to feel good and not be grumpy! I have two type of routine: home/training routine where I will be surfing but even more train in the gym, run, hike and trail running, road bike or mountain bike, skate, do yoga, meditate, swim, walk… I will be doing two to four training (any of theses sports cited) a day with one rest day in the week if I feel tired. Then I have my routine when I compete where I will wake up between 4.45 and 6.45 and go surf before the contest starts to see how are the conditions of the day. And depending on the contest, in my day I will compete, or rest, or surf again, or do yoga/training.
Ideal workout location: Gym or outdoors?
Outdoors! Nature makes me feel alive.
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