Every industry has its key players and for French boardculture, Greg Poissonnier is one of them.
Originally from the North of France and having moved to Pau in the Pyrénées at the age of 12, Greg saw the rise of snowboarding in the early 90’s and how it spread to the masses, which is also when he honed his own skills in the sport. Having joined the Quiksilver pro team a few years later, he experienced firsthand the first pro contrats as well as the first editions of several now legendary events such as the Quik Cup. These travels and interactions led him to establish a wide network in the industry.
Pierre-Bernard Gascogne. PBG (“Pébège”) for friends.The name is as legendary in the boardsports industry as it is familiar to Surf Session magazine readers.
A long-time surfer (the first Frenchman to have surfed Mundaka) PBG has always strived to combine his passion with his studies and his career.
You can’t talk about female icons of the surfing industry without mentioning Maritxu Darrigand
Back in the 70’s, a visionary and a pioneer, she helped lay the foundations of the industry before it even was an industry. As a world traveler living between the mountain and the ocean, she was behind the first screenings of surf movies in theaters.
Beyond an impressive career, Juan Gonzalez-Vega’s life is above all about destiny. The destiny of a Spaniard, who arrived in France at a young age, who got into surfing as a teenager, whose ambition and talent first led him to become a trader on Wall Street for the biggest agencies in New York in the late 90’s.
Joost Grootswagers got into board-riding culture when he was very young. Starting out with skateboarding, he then moved on to snowboarding. As a student in university, he admits that he spent more time on the slopes than in class. Since then and throughout his entire career, he has skilfully combined living out his passion with taking on new challenges.
Though destined to be a doctor like his father, his grand-father and great-grand-father before him, François Payot dropped out of medical school to pursue studies in architecture. But right before graduating, he met an Australian surfing champion who was looking to develop the brand Rip Curl in France. This encounter would change the course of his life and launch François all the way to the top of one of the world’s leading surf brands.
Originally from Tynemouth in the North-East of England, Gabe Davies is one of those intrepid adventurers to have braved the cold northern waters. While his school buddies were all going crazy over football, Gabe dreamt of becoming a pro surfer. Thanks to his parents’ support and his own dedication, he gradually made a name for himself early on and was spotted by Quiksilver, a brand he would spend 20 years working with. A fervent environmentalist to the core, in 2013, he joined Patagonia, where he found a true calling.
Clément Maulavé and Mathieu Couacault are two surfers who created Hopaal, an apparel company that is trying to have the tiniest footprint possible. Relying on their first success of their “sweater of the future” manufactured from 100% recycled materials, they have recently left Olatu in Anglet to open their first shop in Biarritz, a few hundred meters from the Grande Plage. Truly committed surfers Creating out of what already exists, not digging into resources, which we are constantly reminded how finite they are, not living off credit and avoiding consequences for future generations, not endangering our environment, being clean, working locally, differently. All these positive mottos imply a change in models and require working habits. That and more is what drive the two founders of Hopaal. They are fully committed to the ocean because they love spending time in it and are fully aware that it is high time we started taking action. Their solution is to recycle existing fabric and materials to manufacture their collections. Whether it is plastic collected at sea, production scraps, …
Tom Kay is a British surfer who is used to the extreme conditions in the North Atlantic waters. Unable to find the appropriate technical clothes for cold water surfing, he eventually decided to design and make them himself. That’s how, in a little flat above a surf shop in 2003, the surfwear brand Finisterre was born, with the objective of providing quality products that respect both the environment and peolple.
A pioneer of the European surfing industry, Derek O’Neill launched and developed Billabong in Europe for 12 years before taking on the position of International CEO. At 54, he could have closed the door on the industry and spent the rest of his life surfing, but retirement just wasn’t his thing. He returned to Hossegor 3 years ago to develop Vissla, an all new surf brand to “make surfing great again” and so far, things aren’t looking too shabby.