Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Inspirational Wednesdays: Léa Brassy, a nomad surfer exploring the Lofoten Islands

I knew about Léa not long ago. I knew about her because I began conversations with Patagonia about sponsoring some events, and just watching at their site I found her. Then, some friends of mine wanted to interview her for their surf movie "The Old, the Young and the Sea". That's when I really started my interest towards her, so I started to follow her blog "Simple-Voyage".

I took this photo of her while she was telling me about her trip to New Zeland. We actually have a friend in common. 

At the very beginning I thought she was like other surf girls, just doing surfing travels and selling her image for media and sponsorship.
Then I discovered she was the real deal and she is not only a hell of a surfer, but a true sports woman in every sense that really embraces a simple life. This young woman has set up an inspiration path of what a real modern nomad is.

I had the opportunity to interview her a few days ago while she was presenting a short film "Catch it" by Sarah Menzies at the Surfilm Festival of San Sebastian, about the time she passed in the Lofoten Islands, Norway.

Surfing freezing conditions, that's what she likes. Photo: Vincent Colliard

Here is what I asked her. I hope you like the interview and you can get inspired to go explore out of your comfort zone my friends!

- Léa, when did you do your first solo traveling and what was the situation that pushed you to do it?
My frist solo trip was probably at age 17 when I left to study one year in the French Caribbean islands to study tropical agriculture. It was at the end of school and I wanted to combine surf and travel.
After that, my first solo trip in the van was to Portugal at age 19 just before I started nursing school. Then I went for a longer solo trip in New Zealand. I’ve always felt like solo traveling was opening me to more intense and genuine experiences with locals that traveling with friends but that’s until you find the right person to travel with!

- How is to be a surf girl and a nomad, traveling by your own? Have you had some difficulties yet, or any extraordinary experience you want to tell us?
It is awesome. People are curious of you and welcome you very easily. Especially women. It’s lovely. I’ve never been in trouble being a girl on the road. I for sure had to pay attention several times but I’ve always preferred safety. I mean the only difference with a man traveling solo is human behavior and I’ve always been careful not to be in place I could not have help if I needed to.
And unlike any expectations, I’ve made amazing friendship with locals, men or women, that might not have happened the same way if I was not a girl by herself.

During her Greenland-Iceland journey. Photo: Laurent Masurel

- Léa, you’re very much a minimalist and the opposite of “consumerism”. Did your parents raised you like this or was a personal choice that took you through a process? Can you tell us about this?
I was raised in a minimalist way, that is for sure! But It was not any choice of my parents or any lack of money or anything like that. The part of France I am from is a post-war backcountry area where it seams to be written in the genes that everything should be built strong and last. Before the war, it was a poor area but after the war, it was even harder and I do believe it builds the minds for generations to come. I believe even though I’ve never suffer of any lack of anything, I’ve been transmitted to respect what I have and save and think many times before buying something new. That’s why my girlfriends hate shopping with me and why my mechanic bills add up!

- You were talking in the movie about how surfing was so hard physically in Lofoten Islands due to the extreme conditions. Do you pursued an special training before going to live there?
Yes it was pretty demanding and No I have not been training for that, not more than my usual routine. But it could help.

- What was your best experience so far living in Norway?
The Northern Lights. It’s like nothing else, probably the most fantasy natural manifestation I’ve witness my entire life of travels.

Surfing the Basque Country. Photo: Stefan Leitner

- How did you met Sarah Menzies and what appealed you most of this project?
I randomly met Sarah on the beach up there. She was with a common girlfriend. It was a little lonely at times up there and I was so happy to see a young lady doing stuff, good stuff and smiling that much. Her project did touch me deeply since she was so interested In my lifestyle and it gave me lots of confidence to talk about it. She brought an amazing energy along and I loved it.

- What are the next projects to come?
I’ve just been back from Iceland were I was with my boyfriend Vincent Colliard on a self-supported surf and ski trip. I’m gonna work on a short film about it. Hopefully in San Sebastian next year!

If you want to start to follow Léa's adventures, here's a couple of interesting links about her:

Léa and Zurriola beach in the background

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