Rowing miles to help sick children. This is the feat accomplished by the "rowers" of the Cape Optimist expedition to win the "totem". Tuesday, March 28, at the Taaone hospital center, on the island of Tahiti, the six rowers of the Cape Optimist expedition, including Vahine Fierro, the ambassadors and the nursing staff inaugurated the Super-Optimist totem. This tool, which has the appearance of a large box on wheels, allows the exercise of a physical activity adapted to patients during treatment or post-treatment of a disease.
The association Hope team East, which provides this totem to French and Polynesian hospitals, accompanies children with cancer through sport. That day, Stéphanie Barneix, co-founder of this association, had just set foot on land. Indeed, she took up the challenge, accompanied by five other athletes, to cross the Pacific Ocean. Linking Lima, Peru, to Mooréa, French Polynesia, with arm strength, they rowed for three months, taking turns night and day. The funds raised by this crossing of 8000 kilometers have helped sick children, to accompany them towards a "better life".
The inauguration of the Sports Totem at the Papeete Hospital with Roxy Jérémie Gabrien ambassadors
Vahine Fierro is a professional surfer but also an ambassador for the Cap Optimist expedition. With a name that means "woman" in Tahitian, the 23-year-old athlete grew up on the island of Huahine, located thirty minutes from Tahiti by plane. His mother was a primary school teacher, his father is a cabinetmaker, but also a shaper (craftsman who makes surfboards, editor's note). It is also with her creations that she participated in her first competitions. Before the number of boards to be made for his daughter became too stressful as her career grew. Meeting with a surfer with a destiny written in the airwaves.
Madame Figaro. - How did you learn about the Cap Optimist expedition and more generally about the actions of the association?
Vahine Fierro.- Thanks to my sponsor, the surf brand Roxy, which is also involved in this expedition. They know that I am particularly sensitive to health issues and even more so when it concerns women. My passion for the subject led them to offer me to be an ambassador. I find it remarkable to allow children with cancer to participate in sport during their care and I am very proud of the sporting achievement accomplished by these six athletes.
See alsoEmmanuelle Bescheron after crossing the Pacific: "It is not because you go on an expedition that you abandon your child"
You are also a top athlete, how are you preparing for the upcoming Olympic Games?
I managed to join the France surf team to try to get one of the two places to represent France, Tahiti and its islands at the 2024 Olympics. Indeed, two surfers per country is not a lot but it's like that for everyone (laughs)! Even though I was one of the first to be selected, the path does not end there. We have to participate in the qualifiers, the first ones are in El Salvador in Central America in June. I have to be the first European in the world championships. If it doesn't go well, I can try my luck in May 2024, there is another possible qualification. But during this second time, I have to be in the top 7 in the world! I am surrounded by very good French surfers, such as Johanne Defay, Pauline Ado, Tessa Thyssen or Aelan Vaast, who is also from French Polynesia.
Vahine Fierro with her two sisters. Roxy
The surfing event will take place on the wave of Teahupoo, what is your feeling about this choice?
In July there is no swell in France, so few waves because it is the low season. So I was not very surprised but I am delighted! Teahupoo is a very beautiful wave, which will allow us to express ourselves fully in our surf. It's the kind of place where we can really put on a show and people are amazed by our sport. This will highlight surfing and its history.
Teahupoo is a very beautiful wave, which will allow us to express ourselves fully in our surfing
How did surfing come into your life?
I started surfing at the age of 5 on my island in Huahine with both my parents. At first, I surfed to spend time with my family and let off steam after school. I've always been drawn to the ocean, but never to competitions. Over time, around the age of 12, my father encouraged me to make a career out of it. "You know I think you have the level and it would be really good to make it your job." I understood that I didn't want to do anything else with my life... You might as well try to make a living from surfing! I started by participating in local competitions in Tahiti. I lost in the first round in my first competition! It was as frustrating as it was motivating. I had a click and from the age of 13 I really started competing. I then obtained my baccalaureate ES before studying to be an English teacher in parallel. After a few months, I put an end to it. It added stress that I had a hard time dealing with. I trust that my career as a professional surfer will open doors for me that I do not yet imagine.
Thinking of another career in particular?
A month ago, I was able to join the national police. The latter has set up a system for national athletes to support us financially in our sports careers and to make us discover a new profession. For fifteen days in Paris, we followed the same training as future police officers. I had never spent so much time out of the water as during these three weeks on the island of France! It brought me unexpected serenity. We were twenty-four athletes and we learned to shoot, to defend ourselves, to stop people. If I ever get hurt, or my career doesn't succeed, I already have a foot in the police, a new door open. I can now say that I am a reserve police officer (laughs)!
How are you preparing for the Olympic Games?
I first have to train for qualifying, that is to say on waves of beaches in the North or South of the island of Tahiti. I am fortunate to live here and to have a choice. On the other hand, the Olympics will take place in Tehaupoo, on a wave of reef. I also force myself to ride this wave on which I have to progress, whatever the conditions. It is very impressive, and it is only by spending a lot of time in the water that I would be able to be comfortable. I also spend one month in France a year, and the France team organizes internships during the year to promote our cohesion. During the year, two coaches help us on all competitions. We train at the CERS and the France pole in Biarritz.
Vahine, Heimiti and Kohai Fierro Roxy
Meditation and training
How is your daily life organized?
This year it's pretty special. The month of April is dedicated to the preparation of the season. From May to November I do one to two competitions a month in different countries. During out-of-competition periods, I wake up around 5:30 am, meditate and eat before heading to morning training. Hira Teriinatoofa and Hugo Palmarini are the two coaches provided by the France team for Tahitian surfers. Kauli Vaast, Manakei Kahiha and Mihimana Braye train with me. From Monday to Friday, we start with thirty minutes in the water, we go out to debrief and so on for three hours. After a regenerating nap I start training between noon and fourteen hours. My physical trainer is a French osteopath who follows us with Kauli Vaast for body care and sport: cardio, reactivities, interval races, swimming ... Then, either I do a one-hour session of surfing or I do visualization. That is, I watch videos of other people surfing or from my old sessions to see how I can progress. Then a nice dinner and in bed around 20:30!