Pro Bodyboarder Joana Schenker portrait at the beach  for the cafe interview

I'm In The Ocean Everyday, I Can't Just Sit And Watch How We Humans Treat It.


JOANA SCHENKER

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PRO BODYBOARDER, PORTUGAL


Born in a rural village in the south of Portugal, Joana is a Pro Bodyboarder and activist standing for the protection of the ocean. She was the very first wave riding professional to ever win a World Title for Portugal in 2017. She opens up about her decision to follow this path; about her special relationship with the ocean she is now fighting for; and what it means to be a woman in this field.


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If I had not become a pro surfer, I would have become a full time activist.

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WHAT LEAD YOU TO EMBRACE THIS CAREER AS A BODYBOARDER?


JOANA: I grew up in a very natural and relaxed environment with a lot of freedom. I guess it had a great impact on me as a person and the way I look at life. I started when I was 13 with my friends. Bodyboard was a really natural choice for me. It’s almost the main sport in this Southern part of Portugal where I grew up.



HOW HAS YOUR ENVIRONMENT DEFINED WHO YOU ARE?


JOANA: Sagres, where I come from, and the surrounding region is like a little piece of paradise to me.  People hate it or absolutely love it. It’s still very raw and wild. The edgy cliffs over the intense blue Ocean, the strong wind, the dust, the roughness…all that still fascinates me.



Pro bodyboarder Joana Schenker from Portugal surfing a tube wave

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The prize money for women is 1/3 of the male division, it’s harder to find sponsors and exposure. We often end up competing when the waves are not as good.

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WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED IN THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER?


JOANA: Bodyboarding is not an easy sport and it is extremely hard to actually make a professional career out of it. After high school I wondered wether I should go to university and get a real job, but I just loved bodyboarding way too much, so I ended up pursuing it, even if it meant getting a lot of different part time jobs to pay for competitions in the beginning. I just kept investing in it. Now after 15 years competing, these efforts showed to be worth it. It is only after I won the world title that my career took a big turn, getting attention and recognition from media, brands… I believe that my love for the sport and persistence made me overcome all challenges along the way.



DO YOU FACE SPECIFIC CHALLENGES BEING A WOMAN BODYBOARDER?


JOANA: Being a woman in a male dominated sport is just so much harder. Our prize money is about 1/3 of the male division, it is harder to have sponsors and media exposure and many times we end up competing when the waves are not as good. I was however very fortunate to always feel supported by the boys I surf with at home. That inclusive behavior of the men in water sports is not always given. 


Joana wearing the Bucket Bag in dark blue.




HOW DO YOU USE YOUR INFLUENCE TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU?


JOANA: I grew up in the middle of nature. Every day I spend time in the Ocean. Nature is such a big part of my life that I cannot just sit and watch how we humans treat it. I just want to inspire people to care as much as I do. Social media is a great way for me to amplify the message. With one of my sponsors, we currently tour in Portuguese schools to spread awareness about ocean pollution. We talked to 3500 kids in the first 2 months alone. The Ocean is my best friend and greatest teacher. It might seem crazy but I talk to it! If I had not become a pro surfer, I would have become a full time activist. 



HOW DO YOU TRAIN YOURSELF MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY BEFORE A COMPETITION?


JOANA: I used to get very anxious before a competition. Now I try to channel that into excitement. I mostly try to spend as much time as possible surfing in the ocean. I also do a bit of bodyweight and stretching to work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. I am a true believer of the "happy mind, healthy body theory". I just try to keep a positive mindset and joyful energy and to do what feels right.


Pro bodyboarder Joana Schenker from Portugal with her vegan leather bucket bag


The Quick Round



WHAT DOES FASHION MEAN TO YOU? 


JOANA: Fashion should be a way to tell others about yourself before you even say a word. Style is a very powerful way of self expression. 



WHAT'S THE FAVORITE PIECE IN YOUR CLOSET?


JOANA: Funny my favorite piece is also the least fashionable item I own, my oversized grey sweatpants. Just love them so much, I feel really stylish in them, what does that say about me? 



WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE COLOR AND WHY?


JOANA: Black, because it is modest and arrogant at the same time. 



WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BECOME WHEN YOU GROW OLDER?


I want to be one of those really confident, cool and stylish old ladies, that make growing old something to look forward to.  

Joana's Inspirations 

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1. A book: Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton.

2. A documentary: Bue Planet II.


Follow Joana at www.joanaschenker.com and on instagram @joana_schenker 



SEND JOANA YOUR QUESTIONS

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