Translation Iona Eberle
Jade Magnien is only 14 years old and already one of France’s most promising female surfers with an undeniable determination to turn her passion into a career. She hasn’t let go of her surf board, since she was first introduced to surfing at a tender age.
“I started surfing before I knew how to swim. My dad put me on a board with swimming armbands and when I would take off on a wave, my mom would grab me at the edge of the water. I started competing at a very early age, when I was 6 years old, and I immediately loved it. About a year and a half ago, I told my parents that I wanted to become a professional surfer and live off my passion, and they said “alright, we’ll do everything we can so you can get there”. For this, it’s necessary to travel everywhere in the world.”
Jade trains in Les Landes, where she lives most of the year. Her parents, who are also surfers, built a small, wooden, California-inspired cabin by the surf break known as “La Gravière”. There they go to grab a bite, have a drink and watch the waves breaking at this mythical spot. Dream-like conditions for a motivated young surfer to do her daily training!
However, the waves at La Gravière are not for everyone, especially during a big swell. It is a powerful and technically difficult wave, known for its barrels and thick lip. But Jade is not one to get cold feet. Fred Robin, her coach, confirms this: “She is a super motivated and committed surfer, who gets in the water even when it gets big”. Amongst local surfers, her commitment has earned her the nickname Calamity Jade! She has been surfing this wave for a year now – a wave that few girls of her age would dare to take on.
Jade is well aware that living in Les Landes is a blessing: “I think living in Les Landes is an advantage, because there are so many different types of waves. You can find any type of wave here: small, steep waves, big ones that barrel, and large, soft waves. Les Landes is a magical place for surfing! During contests, often the conditions are small and you surf soft waves with little power, so you have to train for this type of wave too.”
Jade has just won the Capbreton Grom Search. Right now, her goals are make it to the French championship and be selected for the Olympic Games in 2024. To get there, she already trains like a pro: “Thierry St. Paul coaches me mentally and with Jérôme I do general sports training one or two times a week. I do surf training about 12 hours a week with my coach Frédéric Robin, who used to be a pro-surfer. I still go to the high school “Collège Jean Rostand” in Capbreton. But I also attend HackSchooling, an institute for athletes, who want to go pro, whilst continuing their studies. When I’m in France, I do private lessons twice a week on top of high school, and when I’m abroad, I have classes three times a week. As for stress management, I try to tell myself that I’m here to have fun, but it’s not that simple. And thanks to my coach, I’ve learned to better deal with my stress.”
With her surf coach, Fred Robin, she analyzes the points where she still needs to progress. “At the moment we work on her frontside, carves, rolls, re-enteries, in short all the maneuvers. Jade is more at ease on her backside, where she pulls some good sequences,” explains Fred.
Jade currently has four sponsors: HURLEY, PYZELSURFBOARDS, DAKINE and NIXON. “At the moment, it is hard to find sponsors in the surfing world. In terms of finance, my parents pay all my travels, my coaching etc. This is also why I approached Stephanie at the Protet agency – to try to find a big sponsor. As for my boards, Jon Pyzel shapes my boards. Currently I surf a 5.3 swallowtail. We define the dimensions together with Jon and Fred Robin.”
Recently, Jade went off to train with Courtney Conlogue, one of the world’s best surfers: “It was a great experience and I was able to speak English with here – it was a bit complicated, but fun. When we were in the water, she gave me some advice.”
Travelling is one of the pleasures of surfing. “I love traveling and to discover new surfing spots, new cultures. I’ve been to Bali, Australia, Portugal, the United States, Guadeloupe etc. Travel teaches you solidarity. In Bali for example, we always went to eat in the same warung on the beach. We were welcomed, as if we were family. Then one day, it completely burned down. Everyone got together, picked up pieces of wood around the spot and rebuilt it. I realized what the true values in life are”.
Jade has already surfed a multitude of famous waves: “My favourite spots are La Gravière in Hossegor, Snapper Rocks in Australia, Uluwatu in Bali and Trestles in California. I love big waves that are a little windy.
She has her future all mapped out – to continue to live off her passion, while continuing her studies. And we wish for her to live this dream to the fullest, with her family by her side and her surf club, the Santocha club in Capbreton, whom she thanks for their support.