VideosOuterknown Fiji Women's ProJohanne Defay

In Her Element: Defending Champion Johanne Defay

Johanne Defay is loved by friends and rivals for her contagious smile, which is remarkably ever-present. But hidden under her sunny disposition is a fierce warrior, and the battler in her is filled with confidence these days.

Defay just finished runner-up at the Oi Rio Pro, which propelled her to No. 4 on the Jeep Leaderboard. Now she's back in Fiji, an event she won in commanding fashion in 2016. Defay's biggest strength is her lethal backhand attack, an aspect of her surfing she crafted back at St. Leu, on Reunion Island, where she grew up sharpening her blade.

On opening day of the Outerknown Fiji Pro waiting period, Defay talked about what it's like to be back in Fiji one year later. While she's quick to downplay the benefits of being a defending champion, she's taking a lot of comfort in the fact that Fiji feels a lot like her old home, and that's reason enough to keep your eyes on her this week.

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