Within minutes of meeting the Mignot family, you'll want to be adopted. They have an adventurous bloodline, a surf-work balance, and a passion so profound you can practically taste it. Not to mention a home base in Sayulita, Mexico, origins in France, and a few Canadian passports, too.
But when it comes down to it, being a surf family is a lot of work. In this branch of the Mignot clan -- Christophe and Marina are parents to Marco, who is currently No. 3 in the European Juniors; Nomme, who is making his way on the QS (he just finished in the Quarters at this week's Pantin Classic); Lola, who is a sponsored longboarder; and Manua, who, at age six, has time to choose a career. Their cousin, Diego Mignot, rounds out the competitive group. He's on the QS too, and finished runner-up at the Vans Surf Open Acapulco earlier this summer.
During downtime between contests in Spain and the U.S. last month, Christophe, Nomme and Marco were in France seeing family, surfing and camping before the US Open. The upbeat trio stopped by the WSL HQ in Hossegor to share their philosophies of work, fun and global citizenship.
Nomme and Marco, you started out in grom comps in Sayulita. How did it go from that to becoming your careers?
Nomme: My cousin Diego and I decided to go to the World Juniors. So we went for Canada because we had a Canadian passport (laughs). My dad moved to Canada when he was 2.
Christophe: We didn't know the rules at the time. We wanted to go for Mexico. I went to the contest in New Zealand with my wife and my sister, who is Diego's mom. We found out that you could only compete for a country if you had their passport. We didn't have a Mexican passport. We called Canada and at the time they only had one guy in the contest.
We didn't know the rules. I went to the contest in New Zealand and we found out that you could only compete for a country if you had their passport. We called Canada and at the time they only had one guy in the contest.
Nomme: That's where everything started. We didn't do that well in the contest because it was the first one and we were really young, like 12.
Christophe: Then they got picked up by the French team and we started competing here.
What do you think young surfers might not anticipate about going pro?
Christophe: That it is hard work. There are a lot of kids that are good. If you want to get there, you have to give it all you've got.
You have to keep the dream alive. You can win but you also lose a lot. It makes you question yourself. If you lose but keep going, maybe it will work out. -- Nomme Mignot
Nomme: You have to keep that dream alive. You can win but you also lose a lot. It makes you question yourself. You have to stay proud of yourself. I think people give up sometimes. If you lose but keep going, maybe it will work out.
Christophe: If you are working hard, it will. The travel can be heavy sometimes as well. The ones that go the furthest keep their head together.
What do you think about being a surf parent?
Christophe: We still try to act like it is a vacation and keep the travel interesting. We want to keep it fun.
Nomme: I like having the family with me. I wouldn't see them that much otherwise. I see my mom maybe four months a year. My little brother is growing so fast. He's only six. When I see them it makes me feel really good and relaxed. When my dad is in the competition with us, I do better. It's the connection and the comfort. He knows us. He knows our attitude and when we are feeling low.
It's important to be surrounded by good energy. When you are younger you do everything by the heart because you feel good. You need to keep that. -- Nomme
Marco: I feel more comfortable with my dad as well.
Christophe: I wake them up and work out with them. It's hard when you are alone. You need those little things that make you feel good. Surfing, I would say, at least 70 percent is in your head.
Nomme: You feel more connected with the ocean as well, when your head is good. It's important to be surrounded by good energy. When you are younger you do everything by the heart because you feel good. You need to keep that. We went to Japan and there were some surfers that were like, ‘Can't wait to get out of here'. And my dad was like, ‘I hope you never talk like that.'
Christophe: Because they lose the joy in it.
Nomme: If you lose then recognize where you are and enjoy your time there. In Japan we weren't able to rent a car because you needed a visa or something. We asked a woman if we could pay her to drive us. Her husband ended up loaning us his car and he said to just have it back before dark with the tank filled up. We didn't know where we were going. We ended up at a beautiful factory. We visited a temple.
So you've never questioned surfing as a career?
Nomme: He's [Dad] never been really hard on us with training.
Marco: You can only train well if you want to train. You want your dreams to come true. No one can force you to dream.
Nomme: And it feels good to wake up early and go for a run. It clears your head.
Christophe: Everyone came back to France after Portugal. But we had some sleeping bags. We rented a car and we slept on the beach. We wake up in the morning and go running. So it's an adventure. We slept and camped our way to the next competition. It makes you feel good.
Marco: I love camping and waking up to perfect waves.
You can only train well if you want to train. You want your dreams to come true. No one can force you to dream. -- Marco
Is it hard to balance professional life and being a surf parent?
Christophe: Everything is going well at this point. We have a good crew working with us, which gives us a lot of free time. If my wife is there, then I don't need to be there. A lot of popular magazines started writing about us. It's like Nomme says, ‘when you put your heart into things the rest follows.'
Nomme: It's all the heart. If you don't feel it, you shouldn't do it. Everything you do in life should come from the heart.
Christophe: It makes life easier.
As a family, you have an exceptional amount of passion. Where does that come from?
Christophe: We've grown up very differently. We have a crazy family. I'm one of nine children. Three of my siblings were born in Africa. Then my parents came back to France. Then we moved to Canada. Then we moved to the Caribbean. Then we started to grow up and everyone went different ways.
I'm one of nine children. Three of my siblings were born in Africa. Then my parents came back to France. We moved to Canada. Then to the Caribbean. -- Christophe
Nomme: We have 30 cousins. We all have a lot of love between each other.
Christophe: My parents have always made us really see life. They want us to do what we like and the rest will come easy. That's what we've done. You can't do anything halfway. You can't think so much about the ‘what ifs.' It's a very real possibility that they won't make it but that doesn't matter. They've learned a lot of different languages. They've well-traveled.
Nomme: I'm not scared of life.