Les Palmes & Le Couteau


Interview with Yann and Joël Badina

Joël Badina, 29, Lifeguard living in Anglet, France

Yann Badina, 24, Anglet France

What is your bodysurfing history?

Joël: Started bodysurfing since I was a kid on Anglet beaches during Summer, going straight in the foamies and having a lot of fun. Things started to get serious at the end of high school when I bought my first pair of fins. Since this day I got more and more addicted to this wonderful feeling and never stop then.
I learned on my own, slowly but surely. As the connection with the ocean got stronger, I would chase bigger and better waves to keep the stoke alive. I also decided to enter bodysurfing contests to meet other people that share this passion. My homebreak is Anglet, Basque Country, France. Very nice sandbars, one of the best place for bodysurfing in my country.

Yann: I began with a bodyboard at age 10 or 11 I think, but I was not really good. Some years later, I was about 14, my brother Joel showed me the way, I was more able to take waves and have fun without a board, that’s why I never stop it. Then he offered me my first real pair of fins, it was started ! I principally surf in Anglet where we live, and also in Bidart, a little village few kilometers away, where it a bit less crowded in the water.

Who had the idea for the film? What were the main locations for shooting the film? Is there anything that was particularly special about the locations?

Joël: The idea of the movie came from Rémi Blanc and myself.
Rémi lifeguards with me in Anglet and is also a graphic designer. Winter was coming and we knew we would have a lot of free time. We really wanted to do something about our own vision of bodysurfing: simplicity, commitment and flow in any kind of conditions. So we decided to record every sessions with waves of consequences during the 3 monthes of winter. Antoine Justes, surf photographer and filmmaker, joined Rémi to help on the project. On my side I talked to my brother Yann to get him into it, and also Lucas Espil and Jean Lemonnier, the two young guns of the movie. We are all part of a lifesaving and bodysurfing association named “Les Guides Bains Angloys” which became the main sponsor of the thing.
The title “Les Palmes et le Couteau” is a little joke that makes reference to a famous french slang expression “la bite et le couteau which litteraly means” the dick and the knife”. People use those words when you try to do something hard without any help or weapon in your arms like if you want to climb Mount Everest in boardshort and slippahs…and well we thought it was pretty representative of what we do bodysurfing through European winter: cold water, big surf and only neoprene and fins to deal with it!

Where are your favorite bodysurfing waves?

Joël: Anyway good waves are everywhere, even in France if you didn’t know already.. The bodysurf here began quite long ago as I can hear old people telling stories of swimming in the waves and going straight with the foam.
Contests are on since early 90’s and each year the winner of the championship gets a ticket to Hawaii… That’s why North Shore has seen many of the best French riders like Laurent Masurel, David Dubes, Christophe Clemente, Matias Hegoas, Fred David and more. It’s been a few years now that the community is growing faster thanks to social medias. The spreading of news, pictures and videos makes lots of youth and less youngs get more involved into the sport, coming from different backgrounds as surfing, lifesaving or pool swimming. More than that, it is now crossing the borders. I just came back from a contest in Morrocco where the locals are crazy about bodysurfing, all along with the Portuguese community; those guys are overmotivated!! And this year Spain runs its very first national bodysurfing championship.

Yann: There is a lot of waves really nice for bodysurfing. Recently we go to California and caught some waves and the Wedge. This wave is brutal, but really fun to ride, especially when you start with the side wave, then you arrive in a big and wide barrel. And the Wedge crew is full of nice guys, thanks to them for welcome us as they do ! Pipeline can be perfect to bodysurf, but it’s overcrowded and it’s hard to have your wave over there. To finish I will say Nazaré in Portugal, with its big triangles, north Morocco where there is a big potential, right, left, beach break and point break, and of course in France!

What is a new wave you want to bodysurf?

Yann: A new wave I want to try is Point Panic, that looks perfect for bodysurfing, the videos I watch from there just make me mad! I hope to have a chance to paddle out there one day.

What bodysurfers do you or did you look up to?

Yann:  There is not really one guy I follow. A lot inspire and impress me. There are the classics like Stewart and Cunningham of course. More recently there is Kanealii Wilcox, doing crazy things never seen before! I try to watch videos from everywhere in the world to learn more and more every day. By traveling, you meet a lot of guys who are ripping, with different styles, different point of view about bodysurfing, but all passionate by the same thing, that’s what I like the most.

Joël: Several surf trips led me to meet bodysurfers from all around the world. This emulation helped me to grow my knowledge and improve my skills. Hanging on with guys like Mark Cunningham or Kanealii Wilcox don’t let you cold. Wedge Crew, so friendly last summer offering my brother and me plenty waves on a good day. My friend Sean Enoka, greatest ambassador of the sport, spreading the Aloha spirit with KahaNalu Hawaii. I’m so proud to be a part of the crew!! I couldn’t forget these epic times. Yes, sharing is good for you.

Final Thoughts:

Joël: I expect torpedo people to get bigger and I think we did our part of the job showing “Les Palmes et Le Couteau”. I hope Europe is now a point on the bodysurfing map next to Hawaii, California or Brasil.

Special thanks to Antoine Justes for the photographs from the film and to the Badina brothers for taking the time to answer a few questions.

Progression: The Flip

Interview with Kaha Nalu Hawaii Rider and 2015 Point Panic Champion

Kaneali’i Wilcox

How old are you and how long have you been bodysurfing at Point Panic?

I’m 23 and I’ve been surfing Panics for almost half my life, going on 11 years.

How long have you been attempting the flip? Have you actually completed it before?

I’ve been doing this maneuver for about 8 years now. It took me a couple of weeks before I started to get the hang of it. Then maybe like a few more years until I could do them on sets and only the last few years I’ve been able to ride it out and do a few more tricks after.

Have you seen other guys complete the flip?

Well my friend Kenji showed me a clip on Youtube of a Brazilian doing a flip and that’s where it all started. Since then, I have a few friends that can also pull this trick off.

Why is Point Panic such a hot bed for bodysurfing innovation? What makes it special?

The wave speed at Point Panics is perfect for bodysurfers; it allows us to do the tricks we want. What makes Panics so special is not just the fact that legally only bodysurfers can ride there, it’s the camaraderie that goes around. I can remember my first sessions out there: uncles giving me tips on how to ride the wave better, almost always the smell of someone BBQ-ing accompanied by all their loud laughter, and nothing but stoke for bodysurfing. Luckily same goes to this day. I love hooting at the little ones giving them the extra courage to charge.

What is the next big bodysurfing trick?

My friend Matt from Big island was telling me that he’s pulled off an ARS a few times and I’ve seen a Brazilian on Youtube do one so that’s the next one to practice.