French surf sensation Justine Dupont has been making waves on the women's surf circuit at the age of just 17. We catch up with the ambitious grom to find out about juggling studies, managing nerves and winning titles.
Have you always loved watersports? I've always loved sport in general, whether water ones or not. I play tennis, I swim and I enjoy athletics too. However, I stopped practising the other sports properly in order to focus on my surfing.
How did you get into surfing? My father is a surfer and a few years ago, he bought an old longboard for my brother. He used it all summer long and we went to the beach most days. I was with my bodyboard at the time, but looking at him, I really wanted to try longboarding!
When did you decide to commit yourself to surfing full-time? During that same summer, my brother let me ride some small waves but I wanted even more. When my brother eventually bought another board, he offered his old board as a gift to me for my 11th birthday. Since that day, I’ve never stopped surfing! It definitely signalled the start of my passion. I’m still excited every time I go surfing. During the first winters, I couldn't go surfing as I didn't have the right gear, so I had to wait for the warmer seasons which was agonising!
How have you found the ASP European Women's contests this season? I can’t really compare, as I did only 2 WQS events this summer, but I really liked them. The level was high and there were girls from all over Europe competing. Once I've finished my studies, I hope to be able to follow on an international level as soon as possible.
How do you prepare for a big competition? I don’t really change my way of training, because I train all year long. I have a good lifestyle, I do a lot of stretching and try to maintain a good fitness level. I’m pretty lucky to be student at the Pole France, and to train with the best trainer, Philippe Malvaux. The thing that I have to work on is my stress before a heat. I’m still very tense, and I have to find a way to use it better.
Do you still get nervous before a big contest? Of course, like everyone I think. But when I know that I don’t have a lot to lose, I feel pretty comfortable, like this summer with my first WQS. However, I was pretty stressed before the final in Portugal because I knew that I could win the European Title. Before that contest I was really nervous but I am progressing and improving all the time!
What is the atmosphere like behind the scenes? The relationship among all the girls is great. I didn’t feel any rivalry out of the water. We joke before a contest and we push ourselves while we're in the waves. There's definitely no bad feeling between us.
How did it feel to win the ASP European Women's title? My first impression was the surprise, because I didn’t realize that I could do it! I was so stoked, so happy.
There are a lot of promising female surfers in your region, did that make the contest more difficult or did it just spur you on to win? The French level is getting higher and higher, and that is a good thing. We are always trying to progress. More and more, the French surfer girls are performing in the international contests: Lee Ann Curren took 3rd at the Rip Curl Pro Mademoiselle; Pauline Ado came 2nd on the WQS 5* at Durban; Marie Dejean scored a 9.40 against the best Australian girls during the Pro Junior this summer… I can’t even name all the good performances from the Frenchies!
Can you give us a run down of your average day? During the school year, I’m at the Pole France Surf in Bayonne, completing my last year of high school. I have different classes in the morning, and in the afternoon we go to surf with Philippe Malvaux, our coach. At the end of the day I'll do some stretching and yoga in my room. At the weekend, I'll go back to Lacanau to see my family. I'll just have time to surf and do my homework, then I have to go back again!
And if you could have the perfect day, what would it include? A perfect day for me would be at home, in Lacanau, with my family, surfing perfect waves all day long!
What are your plans for the autumn? This autumn, I will have the French Championships. I hope to score well in longboard and shortboard. I’m training a lot for that, thanks to Philippe Malvaux and also my Rip Curl coach Gilles Darqué. Both are helping me to surf better and I would never be where I am today without their help.
What’s your favorite surf spot? My favourite spot is Dolphin Bay in Noosa, Australia. Or when the sand banks are good at Lacanau.
You must travel a lot: what are your suitcase essentials? The most important things in my suitcase are my wetsuit, some suncream, wax, leash, some Rip Curl bikinis, and a good book for the long waiting period in the airports.
What have your greatest achievements been so far? My two best results are the European title in shortboard and coming 2nd in the Longboard World Championship in Biarritz in 2007. I've felt more and more confident in myself and my abilities thanks to those results.
Who or what are your inspirations? I really like Carissa Moore’s style and technique. She’s amazing. But I take inspiration from all good surfers.
What affect does your career have on your personal life? I definitely don't have enough time to enjoy moments with my family - the weekends go way too fast! But their support is really important to me.
How do you relax when you get the chance? When I have time, I just spend time with my friends and my family. During the holidays, I just surf, go shopping… and do girly things I guess ;)
What’s up next for you? Next up, I'm going to Guadeloupe for the French Championships. Then, for Christmas, I'll be going to Australia. Next summer, I will try to do the Pro Junior and also some European and international WQS events.
Thanks: I want to thank all my sponsors: Rip Curl, Fifi Chevalier for my boards (longboard and shortboard), FCS, and Gorilla, because without them, I would not be where I am today. And also thanks to Gilles “kéké" Darqué for all his professional support!