Catching up with Brazilian Surfer Marina Carbonell

Posted by Rhea Cortado on

Back in the 1970s, the town of Praia da Pipa on the eastern tip of Brazil was a sleepy fisherman village. Many of the houses were made out of clay and straw and nestled on the coast bordering protected environmental areas. The area's fun waves attracted vacationing Europeans who fell in love with a way of life connected to the sounds of the rainforest and never returned home—becoming integrated within the melting pot of Brazil. Today tourism is a major part of Praia da Pipa’s economy while being influenced by the broader culture of the country: its biodiverse rainforests, dense globally-connected cities, and Portuguese colonial influence.

This is the Brazil where local surfer Marina Carbonell grew up (her parents are French and Brazilian) climbing fruit trees, playing in the saltwater, and encountering wild monkeys as visitors from around the world came to experience a taste of this unique community.

During our last trip to Brazil, we met up with Marina to share waves and explore her beautiful home. From surfing under the moonlight in Praia da Pipa to the cultural diversity of the country, we caught up with Marina to hear more about why Brazil makes her feel alive.


Marina wears the Kennedy One Piece in Kayapo

Tell us a little about where you grew up in Brazil and what your childhood was like.

I lived most of my childhood barefoot walking on dirt, with salty hair and scratched knees. Because I lived in a small beach town surrounded by rainforest and paradise-like beaches, every day was an adventure. I remember spending my afternoons climbing trees with my friends looking for ripe fruits like mangos and cashews. I also remember the unexpected meetings with “saguis” (wild little monkeys), lizards and all kinds of birds! At the beach, we used to play in the ocean, build sand castles and play soccer. When we’d go for a swim, dolphins, and turtles were always there swimming with us. It was magical.

Minha infância foi vivida com os pés na terra, cabelo salgado e joelhos ralados. Por viver em uma cidadezinha rodeada pela mata atlântica e por praias paradisíacas, todo dia era dia de aventura. Lembro de tardes passadas com meus amigos subindo em árvores a procura de frutas típicas como mangas e cajus, dos encontros inesperados com sagüis (macaquinhos selvagens), iguanas e diversos tipos de pássaros! Na praia a diversão era a mesma, podíamos passar horas brincando nas ondas, construindo castelos ou jogando o típico futebol, e é claro, sem esquecer a presença constante de golfinhos e tartarugas durante nossos mergulhos. Foi uma vivência mágica.

What is your best childhood memory near the ocean or in the rainforest?

One of my best memories was camping by the beach. It was a full moon, and it was especially big and bright that night. My friends and I grabbed our boards and paddled out to watch the moon rise from the ocean. We were surfing and totally absorbed by that magical moment when we realized that we were surrounded by thousands of planktons. At this moment everyone was filled with a feeling of joy and happiness that was contagious, it was amazing.

Um dos momentos mais marcantes foi durante um dos acampamentos que costumávamos fazer na beira da praia, era noite de lua cheia, e ela estava especialmente grande e luminosa. Todo mundo pegou suas pranchas e fomos ver o nascer da lua de dentro do mar, entre uma onda e outra, mas o que tornou o momento realmente inesquecível foi quando percebemos que estávamos rodeados por centenas de milhares de plâncton. A felicidade que contagiou todo mundo naquele momento foi muito marcante.

Marina wears the Hermosa One Piece in Tropicalia

Marina wears the Soleil Bikini in Tropicalia

When did you start surfing?

Surfing entered my life when I was 14 to 15-years-old, my dad was the one who taught me this art. He is a longboarder and passionate about the art of dancing with the waves. Because we live by the ocean and the water is warm all year long, it was natural that surfing became an important part of our lives. The feeling of freedom, the connection with nature, and living 'in the now' were all reasons why surfing became sacred moments shared with family and friends.

O surf entrou na minha vida quando eu tinha uns 14 to 15 anos, quem me ensinou a arte foi meu pai, um longboarder apaixonado pela dança sobre as ondas. Por vivermos na beira do mar com ondas e água quente o ano todo, era natural que o surf entrasse nas nossas vidas e começasse a tomar um espaço importante. Sem dúvida o sentimento de liberdade de expressão, de conexão com a natureza, de viver o momento presente, fizeram com que o surf se tornasse o momento sagrado de vivência entre família e amigos.

Who has been the biggest influence on surfing on your life?

I wouldn’t be fair to mention just one person. I believe that every surfer that has ever shared a surf session with me has influenced me somehow—maybe by the way they showed respect in the water, or by the way they find their position, their natural style making a maneuver, by a big smile, by the level of stoke they get after dropping in their first wave or making a dreamed-of maneuver for the first time. I’m influenced by every little gesture and attitude from surfers I’ve crossed paths with until today.

Não poderia citar apenas um pessoa, na verdade acredito que todos os surfistas que já dividiram uma sessão de surf comigo me influenciaram de alguma forma, seja pelo respeito que eles apresentavam na água, pela forma que se posicionavam no pico, no estilo que naturalmente exibiram durante uma manobra, pelo sorriso de satisfação, pela conversa, pela empolgação de ter dropado a primeira onda da vida ou acertado aquela manobra tão desejada. Por todos os pequenos gestos e atitudes dos surfistas que cruzei dentro ou fora do mar até hoje.

What is the history of female surfing in Brazil?

Unfortunately, there is not much information available about the history of female surfing in Brazil. The little I know is that Santos (a beach town in the state of Sao Paulo) was the birthplace of surfing in Brazil, and then it became popular in Rio de Janeiro. These two regions are home for most of the Brazilian professional surfers, where the surf brands have their headquarters and the surfing events are hosted.

Infelizmente pouco se sabe e é contado a respeito da origem do surf feminino aqui no Brasil, sabe-se que foi em Santos por ser o berço do surf brasileiro, e é por lá (São Paulo) e no Rio que o surf cresceu e se popularizou, por isso até hoje é por lá que se encontram a maioria das surfistas brasileiras, assim como eventos e marcas relacionados ao surf.

Marina wears the Georgia Bikini in Flora.

How do you describe the female surfing scene in Brazil today?

The surf scene in Brazil has grown exponentially over the last few years, and despite being male-dominated, there are more women surfers. Now you see a lot more girls in the water, which I find awesome because we gain more respect from the male surfers who tend to have a sexist mentality even though it might be unconscious for them.

In the women’s competition scene, we’ve noticed resumed strength in recent years with a more comprehensive national circuit joining all categories: shortboard, stand-up paddle, and longboard. Uniting all categories is a strategy to grow water sports in this country so full of talent but with so little investment in this area.

A cena do surf está crescendo enormemente no Brasil, e com as meninas não poderia ser diferente. O esporte se popularizou tanto que cada vez mais vemos mais adeptas femininas dentro do mar, o que é maravilhoso pois assim ganhamos mais espaço e respeito entre os surfistas homens que muitas vezes ainda tendem a atitudes machistas (mesmo que inconscientemente). Na cena das competições também notamos uma retomada de força feminina nesses últimos anos, com um circuito nacional mais abrangente, unindo a pranchinha, o stand-up e o longboard feminino para tentarem crescer juntos dentro desse país tão cheio de talentos mas com tão pouco investimento nessa área.

What aspects of Brazilian culture are you most fascinated by?

What fascinates me about Brazilian culture is its diversity, we are always discovering something new about ourselves, about our history and traditions. Because we are descendants of a mix of Europeans, Africans and native Indigenous, we inherited this diversity in the way we cook, in our music, language, our daily habits, literature, in any way of creating art. We can’t forget how big Brazil is. We are a huge country with many smaller “countries.” We have beaches, mountains, deserts, and forests! Diversity is part of us and I believe because of diversity we are so open and empathetic. We are a warm and joyful people.

O que mais me fascina na cultura brasileira é o fato dela ser tão grande e diversa, estamos sempre descobrindo algo novo a respeito de nós mesmos, da nossa história e tradições. Por sermos fruto de uma grande mistura entre europeus, africanos e indígenas nativos, carregamos uma enorme herança que está sempre presente conosco, seja na culinária, na música, na linguagem, nos hábitos do cotidiano, na literatura, em todas as formas criar e recriar arte. Sem esquecer as dimensões do Brasil, somos um grande país, com vários “pequenos países”, temos praias, montanhas, desertos, florestas… a diversidade faz parte da gente, acho que tudo isso tem grande influência em sermos um povo tão aberto e empático, o calor humano e a alegria de viver se faz presente na grande maioria dos brasileiros.

Marina wears the Kennedy One Piece in Kayapo

What is your dream surf trip?

A road trip around South America in a motorhome without predetermined routes or planning.

Uma surftrip de motorhome pela América do Sul, sem rotas ou datas pré-programada.

When I’m not surfing you can find me …

Cooking.

Cozinhando.

What other passions do you have?

I love to hear stories. I am very interested by people’s life experiences: their love stories, their frustrations, and their accomplishments. I also love to cook. There is something extremely joyful in mixing different ingredients, processing them and then creating something new. Sometimes the result is not how I imagine, but the process is always a great joy. It’s OK to follow recipes but I find it more exciting to create my own.

I am interested in everything about art and ways of personal and collective expressions. I love music, photography, painting, dance, and literature, all this makes my heart beats faster.

Gosto de ouvir histórias, me interesso pela trajetória de vida que as pessoas tiveram até o momento de nossa conversa, seus amores, suas frustrações, conquistas… também adoro cozinhar, tem algo de muito prazeroso em misturar ingredientes completamente diferentes, processá-los de diversas maneiras e chegar a essa nova forma de comida. Nem sempre sai do jeito que a gente imagina, mas é sempre um momento de prazer. Seguir receitas é bom, mas inventar na hora é muito mais instigante.

Tudo em volta da arte, das formas de expressão pessoal e coletiva, também sempre fizeram parte dos meus centros de interesse,  música, fotografia, pintura, dança, literatura, são coisas que fazem meu coração bater mais rápido.

Marina wears the Hermosa One Piece in Tropicalia

What are your plans for the future?

Right now I find myself living the present moment, without major plans for my future. I’ve just finished high school last year and decided to take a gap year. I want to travel as much as I can, explore new beaches, new people and cultures. I want to do some work projects, leave my comfort zone and learn things in a more organic way.

No momento me encontro em uma fase de viver o instante presente, sem grandes planos para um futuro incerto. Terminei o ensino médio ano passado e resolvi passar um ano sabático, quero viajar o máximo possível, conhecer novas praias, pessoas e culturas, realizar alguns trabalhos aqui e ali, sair da zona de conforto e aprender coisas de maneira mais orgânica.

Thank you, Marina! We had a blast surfing and exploring with you in Brazil. 

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1 comment


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    Lía Nerina on

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