Whether she's singing duets with French popstar Tom Frager or training hard for the upcoming season, Lee Ann Curren is gathering momentum for her first year on the Women's World Tour. French editor Archi Jaeckin sits down with her to find out the latest.
SE: The good news about your qualification came late last year, have you changed anything in your daily routine since then?
L.A: Right now I am enjoying my time off, no contests to worry about. I am just training hard and surfing when I can. France is cold right now and it has been mostly flat so it is also some time off surfing that I spend in the gym. It is nice to be able to manage your day the way you want because that's gonna change when I will be on tour. My aim is to be as focused as possible for the first event and surfing a bit less is sometimes a good thing to build up your strength and desire.
Q: Was it frustrating only to surf five contests last season? With so few events did you feel like it was going to be hard to get the job done or get a rhythm going?
L.A: There are too many contests for the men on the WQS and some surfers would certainly welcome a break and for the women it is exactly the opposite. There was also a lack of communication between the girls on tour, we should have said something about a contest that has a two-day waiting period like the one in South Africa that got cancelled! So it was a wake up call for everyone!
Q: You belong to an international surfing family, you already know most girls on tour... You seem really at ease travelling, competing, does that make you France's best chance ever in the Top 16?
L.A: I do feel confortable most places, my boyfriend is from Brazil and I have homes in France, California and Australia to a certain extent. It is definitely an advantage to speak good english and to have done trips with the best females in the world but I don't know if that makes me France's best hope ever...
Q: With your background and level of surfing, you could have easily choosen a freesurfing career. Why the contests?
L.A: Personally I need the contest scene to be 100% into my surfing, to feel like I'm improving. It's a feeling I love, to get better at what I love! For now, contests are the best thing for me after that I will certainly have time for freesurfing and photos. But early last year, I choose to give myself space to breath, in the way I aimed to qualify for the world tour without giving myself any deadlines. It could have taken two or three years. So I really had fun on tour and maybe that showed in the last contest of the season even if I was a bit stressed. I knew that Coco or Paige would get the results on the world tour to open up a spot for me in the Top 16.
Q: Any event in particular where you would like to do well this year?
L.A: Yes, Honolua Bay in Maui. I hope we can get it good. I love big tubing rights! I'd also love to do well in Australia because it is a true testing ground surfing against all the locals; it is always hard to beat them.
Q: Have you ever done an interview where nobody mentions your dad?
L.A: I am always happy and proud to represent the family. I don't mind talking about him but most of the time it is the mainstream media that doesn't talk about my dad because they simply don't know anything about surfing.
Q: What's the best advice he gave you?
L.A: There are a lot but one thing in particular springs to my mind. It took me a while to understand it: 'put more sizzle in your surfing' he told me before a heat. It is that attention to detail that transforms a 5 into a 7. To finish a move well and dramatize your surfing. When I watch Jeremy Flores or even old heats of my dad it is fairly obvious.
Q: What's the best advice your mum gave you (she is also a well-known surfer in France)?
L.A: She really helps me to relax and forget about surfing when I come home. She knows that I could burn myself out surfing.
Q: We know Lee Ann the talented surfer but we don't know your artistic side so well, playing music and drawing...
L.A: I loved drawing especially at a young age, scribbling on anything but then I started surfing a lot and lost touch with it. But it is an important part of my life. Since I was a kid I always heard my dad play guitar with his friends, I grew up with that, with my dad's concerts. He taught me how to play but he tunes his guitar differently.
Q: What are you into at the moment?
Manu Tchao, Clandestino, PJ Harvey, Johnny Mitchell Cloud, I can listen to these albums over and over again...
Q: And painting and drawing wise, any favorites?
L.A: Not really, lately I've been into video editing and in a way it reminds me of drawing. It is about working with your imagination. I've got a project with my boyfriend documenting the surfing scene in one Brazilian favela which I hope to finish this year.
Q: One last question, you've also been singing with the French popstar Tom Frager, how did that come about?
L.A: We did a trip to the Mentawais with him and a few friends and every night we played a few tunes and we kind of started this song. By the end of the trip the song was nearly finished so today it is funny to hear the studio version with my voice. I even went on stage to sing it in duo with Tom. The album is called Better Days I think...
Manu Tchao Clandestino Bayonne
'All I can do' Tom Frager & Lee Ann Curren