MY STORY

A life transformed by surfing.

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

My name is Imogen (Imi for friends) and I am your host. I am a surfer, a mum and an entrepreneur.

I was born and raised in the UK in the seventies, and despite having really “old-fashioned” parents, my lifelong dream was to live like a hippie.  They certainly introduced me to a nomadic lifestyle and at the age of 11 I had already moved to France and back…twice!  At the age of 17, Point Break came out in movie theaters and I caught the surfing bug.  

I caught my first wave ever in Maui, Hawaii.  I was blown away by the exiliration, the sheer thrill of surfing and, of course, its values.  

Living in a landlocked city didn’t help, so I didn’t progress much in surfing, but I completely adhered to the surfing values, spirit and way of life.  I spent my first paycheck on a 7″2 yellow board that I found in Hossegor.  Unfortunately, I failed to use the proper straps to attach it on the roof rack and remember seeing the board flying away at 60mph on the Motorway! 

When I turned 18, I took a gap year and moved to the UK for a few months.  I was miserable there.  So to cheer me up, I would spend most of my weekends commuting from London to Devon with the The Stormrider Guide in my glove compartment. Most of the time, I would sleep on the back seat of my car, and overcome the dire temperatures of the British waters with my 4/3 Rip Curl wetsuit.  I managed to pay myself a ticket to Australia and back where I bought my very first shortboard, a Hot Buttered x’x” that I still have to this day (but that I never managed to surf properly because it is too short – lol).  

Towards the middle of my gap year I met my husband Jean-Marc and found  “l’Amour” (Love with a capital L)! I even turned down a job at Rip Curl in Hossegor.  I guess you could say it wasn’t yet time for me to join the surfing industry, but there’s a comeback… you’ll see.

Fast forward a few months where I had the most terrifying surfing accident in the Canary islands.  I was over confident, under prepared and oblivious of safety (and yes, you can say stupid).  I ventured out on an empty lineup, in a tubular point break.  Obviously I got hammered, smashed my head on the reef, shredded my wetsuit with my fins, almost drowned and got a massive bruise that wouldn’t go away for months!  I donated my yellow board, went home, focused on getting a degree, getting a job in a big tech company, and starting a family, and didn’t really look back from there.

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE OCEAN

Fast forward 15 years when my eldest son turned 7.  We decided to go to Lacanau for a bit of fresh Atlantic air, and he seemed pretty attracted to surfing.  When I saw how much fun he was having, I just had to try surfing again.  This time, I decided to take things slowly and seriously.  

I took lessons, never ventured out of my comfort zone and gradually picked up surfing where I left it, but this time, on a softboard and clearly in a safer environment. When I got back home, I enrolled both my kids in surfing lessons and used them as an excuse to go surfing!  

By this time, I had left the corporate world and was running a family construction and property development business.  For the past 10 years, the job basically had sucked my soul away, but I do remember something striking a chord when we were in Lacanau.  There was this surf shop owner who would close his shop every time the waves were pumping.  It was the “sorry – gone surfing” cliché at its best and that cliché kept me going for another 5 years in my job.  Likewise, I would escape to the sea for my dose of medicine.

Above all, you could say surfing had changed my life. From a dreary suburbal lifestyle, we decided to move to a seaside town by the Mediterranean (OK, OK, it wasn’t the Atlantic but it was a great place to learn).  It was as if I was 17 again!  In 2013, we made my hippy dream came true and took off to Bali for a sabbatical.  This is where I discovered Green School, the most incredible place for kids to learn about sustainability and for parents to make awesome connections.  This place was heaven for hippies!  I learned about permaculture, alternative medicine, superfoods and sustainable architecture.  Meanwhile, my surfing improved and I finally started to gain confidence in bigger waves.  

Over the months, things started to percolate in my mind and when I returned to France, I decided to leave my job at the family business.  I founded my own company importing organic health food from Bali and selling it online. I rapidly found out that organic or not, the food business is pretty ruthless.  I reached my goals but decided that the food business wasn’t for me. Besides, I never managed to fit surfing in my schedule and that sucked!  

It took me a couple of years to find my true calling.  I tried out art, rebooting my business, having a nervous breakdown…  But at the end of the day, the dream job was sitting in front of me the whole time! Today I have a freelance business creating websites, telling stories, translating them into French or English and sharing this podcast with you.  

You could say that hosting a podcast is a childhood dream come true.  As a matter of fact, when I was little, I was already recording fake interviews and spoofs of TV shows on my tape recorder.  About 40 years later, I’m finally living the dream!

ABOUT THE OCEANRIDERS PODCAST

My podcast is a series of weekly conversations with creatives, entrepreneurs, thinkers and dreamers who also happen to be surfers.  We discuss our shared love of surfing and how it shapes career choices and business decisions. In The Oceanriders Podcast, some of my guests have gone for an alternative way of life and strongly believe in downsizing, others however, are creating burgeoning businesses to give them the excuse to stay close to the ocean.  

Surfers have an odd and incomprehensible passion that leads them on weird and windy paths but that’s exactly what makes them the most interesting humans on the planet!  Surfers lead healthy lifestyles, are in constant contact with nature, they travel a lot.  

What I really want to achieve with this podcast, is to show my listeners that it is possible to have a balanced life where surfing does fit into the equation.  Most of my guests aren’t professional surfers, they’re just people like you and me trying to make a difference and find a balance.  I love receiving guests who are changing paradigms, whether they are old or young.  In the same vein, I hope that my guests’ shared experience will help you to find your own path and help you find your dream job.  

Today I live in Les Lecques, France, ride a Stewart 9″0 single fin longboard and when the waves are big enough, I’m on my Bali built Redz Wombat 6″0.

See you out there!

Ciao

Imi