Fresh back from the ISA World Junior Champs in Panama, we caught up with the 17-year-old German surf National Champ who’s lucky enough to call Portugal home
Interview by Sam Haddad
You’re just back from the ISA World Junior Champs in Panama, how was that experience?
It was great! I had a great time with the German Team and gained a lot of experience from the contest. Plus I made some new friends from all around the globe.
How did you get on in the contest?
I didn’t do as well as last year, but considering the level at the ISA I’m quite pleased that I made it to the 3rd repercharge round where I came 3rd, missing 2nd by 0.5. My personal highlight though was beating the South African in Rep 2.
Was it your first time in Central America and if so what did you make of it?
It was my first time in Central America. I had been to South America twice though so I had a rough idea of what it was going to be like. I must say I really enjoyed it. Getting to know the locals and lifestyle in Pavones (Costa Rica) where the German Team trained a week before the contest was an amazing experience and getting the opportunity to enjoy great waves in warm water in Playa Venao was just as great! I got to see snakes, crocodiles, monkeys and improve my surfing at the same time.
There aren’t too many waves in Germany, so when did you get your first go at surfing?
I first went surfing after we moved to Portugal. My parents are both from South Africa and my dad’s been surfing since he was 13. When we moved to Portugal seven years ago we went for holiday in Arrifana (down south, close to the Algarve) where my dad first put me on a board.
Were you into it right away?
I wasn’t too convinced at first, since I was really into sailing and swimming at that time and didn’t really have time for another sport. But I gave up sailing 2 years later and started surfing.
When did you first get sponsored and how did that feel?
I got sponsored in November 2010 after winning the German Champs in the Girls U18 and Boys U16 division. It was a great feeling! It made me feel proud and it’s of course an honour representing O’Neill.
How often do you get to surf now?
Well I just did my A-Levels (Abitur) so I’ve been missing out a little on surfing but my last exam is on Thursday, so then I’m hoping to pick it up again.
Where is your dream place to live and why?
My dream place to live would be Australia, because it’s a very developed country with great waves and really friendly people. They also have a great medical programmes at their universities and the landscapes are just breathtaking. Plus I just love koalas!
Could a female German surfer ever make the ASP World Tour?
I can’t see why not. It’s definitely quite a bit of work, but practice makes perfect.
Who are your surf heroes and why?
My surf heroes would be my dad (André Groen), because even though he’s not the youngest anymore he can still manage a clean 360º and some really nice snaps, Lakey Peterson, because she was the first girl to pull of a aerial in a Junior Girls Event (Trestles) and Kalani David, because in addition to being a great surfer he is a pro skater.
What do you like to do when you’re not surfing?
I like to swim, go for a run with my sis, play ball with my brother or hang out with my friends.
What advice do you have for budding young surfers?
Keep going and don’t stay out the water just because it’s windy, rainy, cold or a little messy, because just like Kelly said it’s better to surf perfectly in any conditions than to to only surf in perfect conditions.
Kira is sponsored by O’Neill, Future Fins, X-Cult Surfboards