A Conversation with Ambre Victoire
Jan 18 '24

A Conversation with Ambre Victoire

In Biarritz, France

Portraits by: Rupert Tapper

"I started trying surfing when I was 7, my dad pushed me into a wave. I grew up watching my dad getting my brother into surfing, and my mom pushing me into ballet. I think he became a really talented skateboarder because he wanted to find his own way. He's a really good surfer too."

"I grew up in the suburbs of Bordeaux. Between the city and the ocean. I ended up here in Biarritz after my studies. I was studying in Reunion island, and I wanted to be more connected to the ocean.

“There was the shark crisis and we not allowed go in the water at that time."

"I grew up with a dad that's a surfer and a shaper. I never really got into surfing when I was a kid. Only a little bit in the summer. I was more focused on ballet in the city. When I finished studies, I craved the ocean. The only place that came to mind was Biarritz." 

"This is something that happened really organically. I never thought it would become serious. I blocked surfing for a really long time, it was around me growing up from my dad, but the environment stressed me out. It clicked when I lived in Reunion Island, I had a boyfriend that couldn't surf because of the shark crisis. I felt the frustration of many people on the Island with world class waves, and not being able to surf. It made me really appreciate the love for this activity."

"Reunion Island was really good for rock climbing as well. I got really into it. It's a very niche special community. Super cool. I got addicted to it when I started. I wanted to get really good, really fast."

 "From there I went back to France, I spent a weekend in Guéthary at Parlementia. I was with my parents and their friends, they had a great place with a bunch of good boards, longboards, guns. That's how I started to surf everyday and got really into it. I actually even surfed some big waves, 2.5 meters. I borrowed my Dad's gun. I was so addicted."

"I got invited to Guadeloupe for a month. There was this wave that's really good, a cyclonic swell in January it was really good and for five days, it was pumping and just really long rights in the harbor. I was really committing to it. The first day I had like five hours session and I think after like a bunch of waves I was already like doing hang 5 on the right. I felt like I was really surfing good for the first time."

 "Ballet fully relates to long-boarding. It's dancing on the water. It's more of an expression than a sport. It's just like dancing.” 

"I went to Australia after Guadeloupe. I bought a one way ticket.I didn't do any research before moving there. I arrived in Surfers Paradise I had really bad English and with the Australian accent was really tricky for me to understand. I had €1000 in my bank account. I spent €700 on the ticket and I arrived in Australia with €300 so I had to get a job directly and I couldn't speak English. I was like what the fuck did I do? I was in the wrong place, I was crying everyday, and loosing hair for the first 2 weeks. Eating terrible food. It took me like 6 months to move to Byron to figure out a nice life." "I asked my dad to make me a longboard. I had no education on classic surfing culture. I didn't know much about this world but I loved long-boarding. I snapped the board on one of the first days at Snapper Rocks. I joined some friends on a trip to Byron Bay. We ended up at Wategos Beach. I didn't have a longboard. I saw people surfing so well. They were ripping. I cried all day. Crying of rage. I was so frustrated, I wanted to dance on the waves. I knew that this is where I wanted to spend my time and get as good as I could. It came out like this, which surprised me." "I stayed 2 years in Byron. I got into Yoga and wanted to develop my yoga skills a lot. There were a lot of good classes there. I was going but always trying my own interpretations of things, watching videos and making my own variations making my own way. Challenging yoga. I got a lot of vocabulary in like few months and then I was just making my own way."
"I wouldn't want to put myself in that situation again. I'm happy I lived through it. But was super stressed out. I'm proud of figuring myself out through those challenging situations. The work on the side with the yoga. Training all the time eating and living well. I was obsessed with it. Being in Byron was a good place for that."
"The crossover between this area and Byron. The vibe and different bubbles of people that cross over between these locations. It's cool. The longboard community is easy to connect and end up in similar places around the world."
"When I came back to France. I was invited to a Gliding Barnacle contest in Portugal in 2019. I was working at a restaurant in Guéthary. I just quit because they wouldn't give me the days off. I said sorry I'm leaving. It was a 9 hour drive. I met all the beautiful people around the community. And I won the contest. I was so happy to win. It pushed me to go further. I moved to Morocco, and ended up meeting some people that wanted to make a surf movie about me. We ended up going to Sri Lanka and Java for 2 months and that's when COVID hit.Surfing was shut down but we found away around it. But then I got sick with a fever and blood issues, a kidney infection. I didn't want to fly back home.The nearest hospital was 7 hours away. It took me 4 months to realize I needed to go back home and take care of myself. I'm so use to pushing myself but needed to get healthy. We finished filming in France and Sayulita Mexico."

"After that I went to California for a few weeks. I met people from Stab magazine in Malibu. And got the invitation to the Duct Tape Invitational in South Africa. I was so happy but then nervous going down there with all the talented riders. As soon as we got off the plane there we partied. I wasn't in the best shape. I wasn't surfing during the winter here, but was staying active with other sports. I was very stoked to meet Kassia. It was nice to spend more time with her back here later for the Queens contest. It's super sharky there. Even during the contest apparently there was some like sharks jumping behind us while we were in the same place. I remember the first heat. Everyone was ripping. All these girls I looked up to were there. I was so happy to win that competition."