words Enrico S. Benincasa
The South African pro surfer is one of the most exciting athletes in the entire action sports scene. His love for surf is total, as is his commitment for the community he grew up in
Born in 1993, in Cape Town, South Africa, Mikey February started his surfing journey when he was only 10 years old. His love for waves is in his DNA: his father was also a surfer at a time when being a black surfer in South Africa certainly wasn't easy. However, Mikey grew up in a different era of this nation and followed his own path, leading him to become a pro surfer at international level. He's currently competing in the World Surf League and since 2014 he's been part of the pro surf Vans team. His style on the board is unique and genuine and the nickname 'Freestyle' says it all. Mikey doesn't forget where he comes from and through surf he's trying to young ones. He partnered with his sponsors and actively participated in programs like Waves of Change, able to collect surf boards for people living in South African Townships. He also ran an initiative, together with his wife Zelti, named Juju Surf Club, promoting surf culture and education both in his country and in Ghana. We spoke with him about his love for surfing, his desire for being socially involved in the life of the community he grew up in and also about his passion for design and a particular object that is always in his bag: sunglasses.
What made you fall in love with surfing more than anything? Was your father your first surf teacher?
I grew up watching my dad surfing. He took me out in the water once or twice, but I didn't really stand up. Eventually I went to a local surf school with a friend of mine and I stood up on my first wave. Still remember the wave and how crazy it felt to be riding a surfboard on the water. The whole idea of riding a piece of foam and fibreglass on top of moving water in the ocean is just crazy. I really fell in love with the idea of spending so much time in a natural element like the ocean, the unknown, and with how no session is the same as the last.
Growing up, did you have a hero/role model? I'm not only talking about the surf scene or other sports but also on a general level...
Growing up in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was, and still is, a big role model of mine. I also really look up to my dad. Miles Davis is another one, he's one person who has managed to change with the times but stay true to himself, which I really admire.
You have achieved great results in the pro surfing sport thanks to your talents and dedication. Besides surfing do you have another special talent that could bring you to follow another life path?
I really love design and art. After school, my plan was to go study design but I decided to fully commit to surfing. It's really great now because I get to work on some really fun projects with brands like Raen that include different elements of design.
Apart from the South African spots what's your favourite surfing spot around the World?
I love Mexico, there's lots of right-hand sand bottom point breaks which I love, and good music, culture and great food.
You are very involved in your community and trying to help people organize activities connected to surfing. How important is this part of your life?
Juju Surf Club is an organisation that my wife and I started. Growing up in South Africa, there's a really big need for support in many ways. I feel very fortunate to surf every day and earn a living from it and I feel like helping is the least we can do. There are some amazing organisations that have shown how surfing is more than just a sport and is a really great tool to help with mental health, especially in disadvantaged communities like in South Africa.
What's your relationship with glasses and sunglasses? How important is this accessory in your daily life?
Spending so much time around the ocean you're constantly in the sun, so sunglasses and surfing go hand in hand. They're a necessity. They also feel like a reflection of what type of mood you're in.
Are you proud to be a Raen ambassador?
I love being a Raen ambassador. The team of people working at the brand, as well as the other ambassadors, are really creative and inspiring people. I'm really proud to be a part of such a diverse and creative group of ambassadors.
What's your favourite model of the brand?
Personally, I love Mistig. It was really fun working on this frame and I feel really close to it. It's a really fun and unique silhouette.
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