SRFACE Diaries

Lena Kemna

Written by Sieuwe

SRFACE Diaries gives you a peek into the lives of our ambassadors. Because we all surf but have so much more that makes us interesting human beings. This week: Lena Kemna from Ericeira, Portugal.

How did you start surfing? 

I started surfing around 6 years ago after taking a course on holiday. Soon after, I got the chance to spend a semester in Australia where I went to the beach every single day. At that time I was stubborn and I was teaching myself (not recommended).

From there, I checked where in the world I could take a Master’s degree, surf, and live affordably. That’s how I came to Portugal, and I never left. In Portugal I really got into it after learning more about the ocean.

Why do you surf?

I think that if I wasn’t surfing, I would be sailing, or be in the forests a lot. I don’t think it’s surfing necessarily, but the connection to nature that draws me to the sport. It’s about being challenged, about being out there and just doing something that has no purpose but feels so purposeful.

Who or what inspires you and why?

I am inspired by people in my life who excel at what they do and are truly good at heart. My colleague Catherine for example, who is brilliant and a hard worker, while being incredibly fashionable, a mother of three and who would never turn someone down asking for help. Or Tiago – a friend of mine – who somehow almost always catches the best wave of the day while being the most selfless person I know. He is the one who taught me about the ocean.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

Honestly, it lacks routine. I work in academia, so I have a fairly flexible schedule. Which is great, as every meeting scheduling involves first checking the surf forecast. But it also requires a lot of discipline and well… a lot of planning.

Nevertheless, most days start before sunrise and involve surfing, regular training or apnea training. All days are full of veggies and dog walks and a good 8 hours of sleep, one or two coffees with friends or neighbours, and work. The schedule of all that changes day by day.

I know that a more fixed routine would perhaps do me well, to not get so exhausted sometimes, but I am happy how it is.

What do you do to relax?

I am not very good at that. If I am properly exhausted, I sleep. I also like to cook, clean and organize my space.

If you’re not surfing, you are…

…very likely running around doing a million things. I always have a board to fix, a dog to run with, a call scheduled with an NGO that needs advice or I have call with my grandma. If I somehow manage to do all this and still have time on my hands, I cave in and work for hours straight.

Name one thing the world could use more of right now

Giving more than taking.

Do you have a tip for people who want to build a life around freedom (and surfing)?

Go. Do it now, life can be a lot shorter than we think. But also, don’t be naive. Get skills, save for the future, build up a life. All of this is possible while chasing freedom… and waves.

What’s the worst job you did so you could surf?

I believe in reducing your expenses so you don’t need to make that much money. I started surfing when I was almost done studying – luckily, who knows if I would have finished studying at all – so I was able to always have a somewhat interesting job. I did, however, say no to countless career opportunities to keep the freedom to surf. Without any regret.

What is your favourite surf destination?

I don’t have a strong urge to travel. Portugal is full of waves, and especially in winter there are many bigger, more challenging ones. I have everything I need to train and grow right here. One day, however, I would like to travel to Ireland, and somewhere to surf in the snow. Maybe in summer I would also like to surf somewhere with bigger swells and warm water, I have never done that.

What is your favourite board? 

As you can see in the photo I have a lot of boards, and a lot of different ones. I surf anything from 1ft to 9ft. Generally – and that is also one of the best tips I could give to other surfers – I surf bigger boards. You catch more waves, you get a better view of the ocean, and it gives you an entirely new experience of the same wave, almost like traveling to a new place.

For example, three years ago, I started longboarding and got really comfortable with it in different types of waves. Two days ago, I surfed a 9ft gun for the first time, and it felt great! I was benefiting from having gained that big-board experience over the last years.

What is your favourite surf movie?

Chasing Mavericks. It’s a great story turned into a simple, beautiful, strong movie about surfing and how life is about the people you meet along the way.

What accounts should we follow on Instagram?

My friend @olliedousset who is just nuts and @heidihansenphotography for stunning huge waves. I think it’s good to follow anything that you like to see or inspires you. But more importantly, to ruthlessly unfollow anything that doesn’t.

Name one thing you would give up surfing for

I cannot think of anything or anyone that would make me give up surfing.

Best lockdown activity?

Doing the things I never got around doing. Cleaning up that shack and building a surf rack, organizing and backing up our computer files, getting back in touch with childhood friends, reading and sleeping well.

Would you rather have unlimited paddle power & speed or night vision so you surf at night?

I’d like to able to see clearly underwater, not lose my contact lenses and hold my breath for longer. Night vision doesn’t sound bad either after acquiring all the skills mentioned before :-).

Anything you want to share with our readers?

Thank you for reading, I really hope it wasn’t boring 😀

Instagram: @lena.kemna

Behind the lens: @janna_nadjejda, @carmoraposo, @sunnybreger, @christinagindl, @sergio_pedro_photographics & @tiagooliveira369

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