French wave-rider Johanne Panzini has been warmly welcomed into the Nikita fold as the latest member of their surf team. We catch up to find out about her plans for travelling, surfing and world domination...
From: La Réunion Island
Have you always loved watersports? Yes! Surfing, sailing and wakeboarding: I love it all! As soon as I’m near the ocean, I feel good.
How did you get into surfing? I was at school on Oléron Island and on Wednesday afternoon we used to practice sports. When I was 13, the sport for the season was surfing so I thought I would try it out. I’ve loved it ever since! Two years later I moved to La Réunion Island with my mum where I progressed pretty quickly thanks to the ideal surf and weather conditions.
How did the sponsorship with Nikita come about? I’ve always loved the Nikita style and I wanted to represent the brand, so I sent an application… and it worked!
Are you excited to be on the team? Oui oui! I’m so stoked about it! I didn’t expect to be part of the team as it’s quite hard to get sponsors when you live on an island.
Can you give us a run down of your average day? During the holiday, I wake up early (as it’s not super crowded in the water in the morning), I take my bike, stop by the bakery, and go to the spot to meet with some friends and go surfing. At noon, I come back home to sleep a bit and go back for a last session at sunset… it’s always beautiful! During the school year: the alarm clock rings (I hate this moment!), I wake up, have a shower, eat some biscuits, run to the bus-station, and go to school until 3.30pm. I then come back home, take my bike and board and go surfing.
And if you could have the perfect day, what would it include? A nice long lie in!! Then I go surfing in the best waves of the year, then I'd meet with some friends to do a bunch of fun activities before going back to the beach for a sunset surf. Plus a fantastic party in the evening!
What are your plans for the autumn? On the island, the summer is just beginning now, so I’ll try to surf as much as possible.
What’s your favorite surf spot? La Jeuté, St Leu, and l’Hermitage.
How do you prepare for a big competition? I try not to tire myself before a contest, so I only surf short sessions at the contest spot.
Do you still get nervous before a big contest? Yes, I’m usually nervous before a contest, but I try not to think about it… We usually surf better when we have fun!
What is the atmosphere like behind the scenes? It’s quite chilled! We always have fun! We try to motivate each other, especially when the waves are big and we're all a bit afraid to surf. But when we are in the water, it’s different; we are all super concentrated and try to be the best.
You must be looking forward to traveling a lot. Where are you keen to visit? I would love to go to Indonesia (it’s planned for next April!), Philippines and Australia! But there are so many amazing locations in the world.
What have been your biggest career setbacks? During the semi-final in the Lacanau Pro Junior last July, waves were so huge and I was so tired from the last hits, that I didn’t manage to paddle to the line up. I was then really upset not to be able to compete to go to the final!
What have your greatest achievements been so far? I won the Chempsec Durban Junior Provincial Champs in South Africa. I made the semi finals at the Lacanau Pro Junior last July and the quarterfinal at the Roxy Pro Junior in Biarritz last July. I won the Roxy trophy open and espoir on La Réunion Island in 2007 and I won the La Reunion Cup in 2007. I would love to enter big competitions next year as I’m just entering two Pro Junior contests a year for now…
Who or what are your inspirations? Travelling, winning contests and surfing with friends!
How do you relax when you get the chance? I watch TV, play music (guitar, ukulele), read, or when the swell is huge, I love going to the beach and taking pictures!
What’s up next for you? I don’t really know! First I’ll try to graduate from high school, then I’ll see. But I’ll never give up surfing, for sure!
I’d like to say thanks to my sponsors: Nikita, Iluka, Tecare, Cobian and Insane and all the people who support me!