Johanne Defay after her victory at G-Land: "It was a bit of an epic"

“How do you feel with a little hindsight after this incredible victory on this mythical spot of G-Land?
I am really happy. I was on the plane earlier (she was on a layover when we managed to reach her) and I was writing a little, in a kind of diary, what has just happened to me. At the start of the year, I had set myself some goals and now I realize that I have already ticked almost all the boxes, so that’s cool. It’s satisfying to see you achieving your goals, especially so early in the season. Like I used to tell my dad, sometimes when you win, you feel like you’re never going to go through that again. And finally, once it’s done, it almost seems obvious to me. At G-Land, I knew I could do something good.

What made you say that?
With this wave, I immediately had good feelings. However, when I arrived, I didn’t have my new boards yet, I received them only the day before the competition and there were no waves to try them. But in the end, they worked really well. We had a magnificent swell before the competition but we were less lucky afterwards. All the locals were very surprised, they told us that they had never seen so much onshore wind in winter. I think the waiting days have been a bit tough for all the athletes.

You come back a bit from afar since you went through the repechage round, with a complicated series against Courtney Conlogue. Passing this milestone was a trigger for the future?
I go through round 2 mainly because I make mistakes in my series of the first round, mistakes in positioning in particular. My surfing wasn’t really in question. It’s true that I was a little jaded to go through the second round. Especially since Courtney is a big backside client. I really focused on this series while not changing anything in my little routine. I know Courtney did hers too every day: she was in the water at 5am when no one was around, no matter the weather. Me, with hindsight and experience, I know that’s not what suits me, so I approached this series in my own way and it went rather well. After that, I was stronger.

How do you approach a final against Carissa Moore, who has been the best surfer on the Tour for years and also your friend?
It’s true that against Carissa, it’s never easy. Before entering the final, we were both super happy, we knew we were going to have good waves and be able to perform. We wished each other good luck, we said to enjoy. At the start of the series, I stayed inside because, facing Carissa, you have to start right away and put pressure on her, otherwise she takes over and after that, it’s very complicated to come back. in the game. I was right to start strong, to put him in doubt. When she doesn’t have opportunities to respond right away, she may panic, these are times when I can take the psychological advantage. It was a bit of an epic.

“With five victories, I am now the French, and even the European, with the most titles. »

What place does this victory at G-Land have on your list compared to the previous four?
I don’t know, it’s hard to say. I still have the feeling that in the end, it’s incredible, even if it was stronger when I won in Fiji (in 2016). Of my five wins, I made three finals against Carissa and she only beat me once. So I’ve been in that position before. There is nothing more, except maybe the fact that it is in G-Land, that I am the first surfer to win an event there, and, with five victories, I am now the Frenchwoman, and even the European, the most titled. It’s progressing, my record is increasing and that’s great. I’m more of a mature athlete. From now on, I would like to go to El Salvador and sign a new performance. My objective is really to maintain this dynamic of regularity in which I have been since the beginning of the year.

Since the start of the season you have indeed been very consistent. In the first five innings, you signed five quarterbacks. Did this blockage worry you a bit?
Not at all, because I’m the only one to have done it, I even found it rather good. Many times, I could have qualified for the semi-finals. At Bells Beach, I thought I had done the show, it was good. Same for my shift at Pipeline, I had it in my pocket, before making a big mistake fifteen seconds from the end. Without that, the halfbacks were there, in my hands. But I missed it, it’s sport, it’s surfing. So no, I wasn’t worried more than that, I’m very happy with my surfing, my boards, my sponsors. My year with O’Neill which is off to a great start. I am very happy with my performance.

You’re heading straight for the play-offs there.
I haven’t looked at the points at all, I know I’m 3rd in the standings but nothing has been done yet. We can still see that this year, there are six stages with six different surfers who won. It remains very open. I would still like to have my place in the play-offs this year, once again, to re-experience this challenge. Here, the important thing is to concentrate on the next competitions. El Salvador, we don’t know either, few people have surfed this wave so it’s going to be interesting, it can be super fun. Brazil is a little more random in terms of conditions. And then Jeffreys Bay (South Africa), we haven’t been there for three years now so it will be cool to go back. And Teahupoo (Tahiti), it’s a new step for us girls. There are plenty of nice deadlines and I want to perform on each stage before thinking about the play-offs.

How do you envision this second half of the season?
Like something very exciting. But first of all I need to recover my health. I’m half sick, I’m going through a fairly brutal downhill competition. And it’s a bit of a race, I’m still on planes. Finally, I changed my ticket to go back to Reunion for a bit to recharge my batteries, change my things because I have a lot of them there with me. There’s still a lot of work to do, I have to stay sane. »

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