Nouria Newman and Jérémy Florès
In L’Eau d’Issey pour Homme, water represents the source of life, a perennial symbol of strength and energy. For these two top athletes, water is also a driving force in their lives. Nouria Newman is a three-time World champion in extreme kayaking and Jérémy Florès is celebrated as France’s best surfer of all time. The pair talks about defying waters, the respect nature deserves and the intensity of their sport.
Nouria: I started kayaking when I was 5 years old. I began on a quiet lake but it took me years to get on rivers that are called extreme. It really was a natural process. The more I progressed the more I went on complicated rivers. When did you fall in love with surfing?
Jérémy: I was lucky enough to grow up near the ocean so I started surfing very young too. I remember that first sensation of sliding on a wave, that feeling of speed, the adrenaline I felt and from that moment on, I was hooked. As years went by, I wanted to go faster and surf bigger waves. You see, that’s the beauty of surf. Nobody can ever reach perfection there is always a better, bigger wave. And even if surf is an extreme sport, a good surfer also learns early on to respect the ocean because it is unpredictable and he can never control it. That’s why you need to have good seamanship to find the right waves, understand the currents, the tides and the wind.
Nouria: I agree, water is a powerful force. Sometimes, when I’m in my kayak, I don’t see anything and the water is so fierce, I have to rely on my senses when the wave opens and closes, I have to feel the water underneath the boat or on the paddle. I know water will always be stronger then me so I think my training as a Slalom competitor helps me a lot in that regard. Before I embark on a fast river, I take my time to visualize and analyse the right spots because there are so many things to handle in a few seconds. What is your ritual before you go into the ocean?
Jérémy: I visualize too. I focus on the wave and I anticipate it so I can read it properly. I imagine the manoeuvre I want to make. And it can take hundreds of hours of trainings, hundreds of falls before getting it right. I guess that’s the ocean’s way of making you humble.
Nouria: Indeed, when it comes to nature, the best athlete in the world has to be modest. He knows water will always be stronger than him. I feel a bit insignificant when I’m on a river. The only thing I can do is try to understand it and it’s quite a magical moment when I feel in harmony with the water and its currents.
Jérémy: Adrenaline must be a big part of your sport. Surf is also an extreme sport it can be quite dangerous and I have to say, I love the adrenaline, it makes me feel alive.
Nouria: When the adrenaline kicks in, I almost feel invincible. But I don’t only look for big thrills. I love getting the perfect line or even performing a particular figure on a quiet section of a river What really drives me is a new project, a new river that has never been done before. A lot of people see kayakers as adrenaline addicts but I think it’s too reductive. I am more interested in the analysis process or the choices I have to make than the pure chemical reaction produced by adrenaline. Of course, what I do is risky but it’s not what drives me. What keeps you getting on that board?
Jérémy: I feel so much better when I’m in the ocean. After I finish a wave, I row out to sea, I sit on my board and I don’t think about anything, I meditate without even realizing it. Whatever is happening in my life, I always feel calmer, cleaner afterwards, almost in a trance. When I’m in the middle of the ocean, I become one with nature and it brings me back to what really matters. That’s why I surf, to find this sensation over and over again. And to get ready for the Pipe Masters in Hawaii, the last leg of the World Surf League Championship.
Credits photos :
Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond Photography: Header
© Fédération Française de Surf: Image 1
CasarsaGuru: Image 2 (left)
Nicole Mansfield: Image 2 (right)