Land Locked Living to World Wave Wanderings
Fearless, entrepreneurial and passionate are three words that really embody professional Swiss surfer, Alena Ehrenbold. Yes, I did say Swiss! Hailing from the landlocked country that is Switzerland, Alena lives and works in the city that shares it’s banks and name with Lake Lucerne. Nestled between Switzerland’s famous mountainous peaks, this would not seem like a probable breeding ground for talented surfers, but that never stopped Alena.
Initially it just started out as small surf trips within Europe, but as the addiction developed, the trips grew longer, and Alena’s dedication to the sport was unquestionable. She has travelled to Indonesia, Hawaii, South Africa, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Panama, Mexico… to name a few, often alone but always with the same motivation, the search for bigger, better waves, and to quench her passion for surf, travel and nature.
Competing in the Swiss Surfing Championships since 2008, and making the podium, Alena has acquired supportive sponsors along the way, as well as catching the attention of the Swiss National Media and TV. Taking this passion a step further, Alena produced, along with three others, and starred in the first ever Swiss Surf Movie, the feature-length documentary “I Wanna Surf“. She continues to work hard in Switzerland, so she can play hard in the surf, and always has a new project or trip on the horizon to look forward to.
Where did you learn to surf and what about it lead you to become so passionate about the sport and lifestyle?
I did my first surf course in 2004 in Portugal. But as I was living and studying in Switzerland, and I was only able to surf during university holidays (when I had enough money..). So I surfed here a week… there a few days… and I didn’t improve at all. In 2006 finally I did my first longer surf trip to Indonesia and there I got really hooked!
How did it come about that you took your passion for surfing to the next level, and started competing?
I just realised on that before mentioned trip in Indonesia, that I really love bigger, more powerful waves and that I only will be able to surf them if I get a lot better. That I started to compete was a coincidence. My ex boyfriend and his friends wanted to compete once in a Swiss Surfing Championship just for fun and I went along, with the intention to watch and support them. When we got there, the people and the ambiance was super cool so I got convinced to enter the competition as well. And yeah, it was a lot of fun and I return every year since to the Swiss Surfing Championships.
How do you balance living and working in a landlocked country, with your love of surf travel?
Very difficult situation indeed! I travel a lot, but sometimes I get stuck in Switzerland and I’m out of the water for a month or even more. I try to avoid that! On the other hand, every single time I’m getting to the shore, I’m stoked and super motivated to surf!
It is an incredible achievement to be one of the producers of the first ever Swiss Surf Movie, “I Wanna Surf“, how did this project come about and what was involved in bringing such an ambitious project to life?
I had organised other surfing projects before, and a few years ago I had the idea to realise the first professionally filmed Swiss Surf Movie. But I was lacking a cameraman and potential sponsors and I couldn’t realise the project. A year later I got to meet Timon Rupp, who had the same idea as I did, and Sophie Bürgin and Mike Eymann who were super motivated to make this project happen. If you want to realise a heart blood project like that, you have to be willing to put a lot of energy and time in the project without ever see a penny for your work. The knowledge from my Masters degree in Economics helped me a lot to make the right decisions during the organization of the production of the film.
Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
The next big thing coming up is a TV show on Swiss Television and a short film in March 2015 about my big wave adventure of this winter.
Is there a particular trip of yours that sticks out in your memory?
Ahh, there were so many incredible trips!!
Favourite wave or surf spot?
Every clean head-high wave that is pealing properly! No matter if right or left, cold or warm…
Craziest wave you have ever surfed?
Pipeline, Hawaii and some of the big wave spots in Europe of course
Most memorable session?
Uhhh difficult one… probably my last session in Indonesia
Severe hip injury. I did a simple backside off the lip on a very small day, I got compressed, bailed and somehow my thigh bone got smashed into my hip… not funny…
Hawaii, when the waves got 1m bigger with every set, the rip was terrible and the only way to get back on land was to take a wave. Of course, there were also some severe hold downs in other sessions, but there I didn’t have as much time to panic like in Hawaii.
Where is next on your surf hit-list that you haven’t been to before?
To many, so I never know where I want to go next..
Most hardcore place you’ve visited?
I traveled 1.5 month alone through South Africa
Homemade cake and ice cream.. ok beer and wine too 😉
5’6 Semente Shortboard, 5’6 Rob Surfboards Retro Fish
Check out more about “I Wanna Surf“, the first ever Swiss surf movie, starred in and produced by Alena.