NewsWomen's Kumul PNG World Longboard ChampionshipsJustine Mauvin

Alice Lemoigne Spearheads PNG Bid to Bring a World Title to Europe

Last December, the Jeep World Longboard Championship crowned Phil Rajzman and Tory Gilkerson as the 2016 WSL Longboard Champions on a idyllic point break in China. That, was the main story.

However, what went relatively unnoticed were the two equal third placers in the women's event Alice Lemoigne and Justine Mauvin and their common origins: Reunion Island.

Justine Mauvin Justine reached the Semis for the first time in 2016 WSL / Tim Hain

While two athletes may not seem like a lot, there were a couple others who also originated from Reunion: Victoria Vergara, four participations in China, Coline Menard five WLC events including a career-best runner-up in Biarritz. The men are not bad either, just to name a couple currently on tour: Martin Coret and Aurélien Meynieux.

Ahead of the up-and-coming Kumul PNG World Longboard Championship we caught up with Alice and tried to find out how a tiny territory in the Indian Ocean could produce such a talented crop of longboarders.

Alice Lemoigne Work, talent and a certain chill go a long way in competitive surfing WSL / Tim Hain

Reunion Island is a volcanic island sitting east of Madagascar with a population of about 800,000 and some 450+ kilometers of coastline and countless spots.

"We have two waves that are incredible for longboarding, les roches noires and trois-bassins. One is a perfect righthand reef and the other has long lefts and rights," she said. "Those have become the longboarding go-to spots, but what's great about this island is that you have all the other waves like St-Leu, tortue or St Pierre when you feel like stepping out of your comfort zone, or just want to get into bigger surf."

Trois bassins welcomed a Junior event back in 2011.
WSL / Aquashot
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Trois bassins welcomed a Junior event back in 2011.
WSL / Aquashot
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Alongside a perfect playground, influence also played a big role in encouraging Alice's generation to get in the surf.

"What started it for me was the World Championships of Longboarding in the 90s at St. Leu, watching videos of that event was inspiring and that's when I decided that I wanted to be apart of that. I was also lucky enough to train with Alexis Gazzo who had an international career, and I watched Justine and Coline surf and wanted to follow their path."

Unfortunately what used to be a little piece of heaven on earth, has progressively turned into a nightmare for the locals with an unprecedented wave of shark attacks. Ultimately, authorities had to forbid surfing and other water-activities across most of the island's waters.

"I was forced in a way to move to the continent because of the shark situation, but I sort of already decided I'd do that anyway, to continue my studies and be able to train more and do more events. Right now the situation is as bad as ever, even though the two nets are an improvement but I really hope this will get better over time so that everyone can enjoy the ocean again."

Alice Lemoigne Alice has been leading the charge in Europe for the past few years. WSL / Tim Hain

So while a really strong generation born in the 90s are making their way towards a potential first world crown for the island, one might be doubtful that younger surfers will be able to follow a similar path.

"The Pole Espoir (a performance training center) is doing a great work to keep the next generation in the water four times a week with a surveillance program," she answered.

With three European titles to her name, Alice is embracing her role as the leader of the regional pack on the global stage and will again try her best to bring a title to the Old Continent.

"I think the European tour is super helpful to get more practice and experience, especially when some of the best surfers in the world come to compete at our events. I've worked a lot on my surfing and my overall fitness. My goal is definitely to be a World Champion someday."

Alice dominated the Boardmasters in England to claim her third title.
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Alice Lemoigne & Edouard Delpero win the prestigious 2016 Boardmasters, Cornwall titles in great little waves on a perfect summer day.

And when she's not surfing with a jersey on, Alice threads her local spots in good company, as she's just joined a community of fellow women riders led by her friend Coline Menard with EllesSurf. The association provides a platform for local sessions, surf trips and various fun activities on and off the water.

"It's awesome to get all the girls together for a session, you meet a lot of people and make new friends, and it's really motivating to go with a group so I joined right away when Coline told me about it."

Follow Alice and the rest of the World's best longboarders in Papua New Guinea from March 18-25 right here.

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