Johanne Defay : " I am divided by many emotions ".

Third in the world at the end of a long season that ended in the finals in Trestles this week, Johanne Defay was as frustrated with her result as she was proud of the path she has taken to 2022. The Private Sport Shop ambassador is having her best season in the elite.

When she arrived in Trestles, California (where only the top five surfers in the world rankings were competing for the title), Johanne Defay could legitimately hope to finish the year in style and go for the crown that no French surfer has ever won. The Frenchwoman had just realized a full season, marked by the jump of regularity. Out of the 10 rounds of the season, the Private Sport Shop ambassador reached (at least) the quarter finals of 9 of them. Only the event held in Tahiti on the famous Teahupoo wave did not see the Réunionese surfer secure her place among the 8 best surfers (she had been eliminated by her friend Vahine Fierro).

Photo by Beatriz Ryder/World Surf League

In addition to this unfailing regularity, Johanne Defay won a historic success at G-Land in Indonesia, making her the most successful European surfer at international level (men and women combined). In the end, the Frenchwoman's second place in the world was well deserved when she arrived in Trestles, determined to bring home the most precious trophy of all. In a format that favors the highest ranked athletes over the regular season (the world number one only has to win one round to win the title while the world number five has to pass four rounds to hope to be titled), Johanne Defay finally played only one round, against the future world champion Stephanie Gilmore. If the Frenchwoman had beaten her last year here in Trestles, this time it was the Australian who took her revenge and then had the luxury to make the great favorite Carissa Moore fall in the final.

Falling to the greatest surfer in history (Gilmore now has eight world titles) is in no way dishonorable for the Frenchwoman, but she was necessarily hoping for better as she admitted on her social networks a few hours after her elimination from the competition. " I'm not sure where I should start... I'm really divided by a lot of emotions. First of all I would like to thank you for all the messages of encouragement, compassion and congratulations. To thank my family because as this day approaches, I realized that thanks to their education and the values they have passed on to me, in my life as a young girl or in my choices as a competitor I have never felt that I was not up to the task or that I "could not" dream bigger. I would like to thank my coach and partner Simon Paillard for giving me the tools and the confidence to go further, I wouldn't be where I am without you. And thank my sponsors.

Photo by Beatriz Ryder/World Surf League

At 28 years old, Johanne Defay signs her best season in the elite, finishing in third place after her fourth place last year. A result that she should take a little time to appreciate, she remained more on the blow of the defeat after the finals in California. " I am extremely disappointed with my performance yesterday. I was convinced that this could be my year. Everything was making sense, I was ready. But as brutal as it may be, surfing and sport is not an exact science. Those 35 minutes in the water do not reflect my year nor the competitor and surfer that I am and that is why I am disappointed. There are different ways to lose and this one is not easy to accept. Surfing is the sport with the most uncontrollable parameters, I am now convinced. So we often have this frustration of not being able to give everything, to show everything. We don't have a finish line, we don't have a time, it's not black and white ... It's a bit like life, everyone interprets it in their own way, with their strengths and weaknesses. And one of my strengths is to see the glass as half full, so yes I am disappointed but I am third in the world!


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