Marlon Lipke - Pro Surfer and entrepreneur.
Marlon Lipke, the double nationality pro-surfer has successfully established his two companies and manages to combine business and surfing in a more than busy lifestyle. Marlon was the first German surfer to attend the WCT in 2009 and continues to participate in the world's more competitive surfing events.
How old were you when you started surfing?
I always played in the water, initially I was body-boarding in a while. And then when I was eight I got my first own surfboard. I started to get more freaky about it, so yeah it was about eight.
Did you start in Portugal?
Yeah, I started at the South Coast of Portugal.
Can you remember the first surfboard you had?
My first surfboard was a second hand New Power surfboard. It was a classic board. I got it for Christmas when I was eight.
What is that you love about surfing and the ocean?
First of all, it has to do with nature, you really shut off when you're in the ocean, you leave the mainland behind. It’s something you can share, maybe mostly better if you don't share with too many people, but with close friends.
But what really makes the sport stand out and so addictive is that you never know what to expect. Every wave that comes towards you, even when you see it, you still don't know really what it's gonna give to you. And that really makes you hooked because it's always a new adventure. If you compare it to snowboarding where you go down the hill five times and you kind of know it in the end, maybe you rode your lines or you know what the hill is going to give you. You can surf a beach five times, but still you have no idea at all what the next wave is gonna give you. So that really hooks you, and that, I think, is what really makes surfing stand out.
Once you start, you can't really let it go.
How did you feel when you received the news about qualifying for the World Tour?
I really wanted to achieve it, I created my own comfort zone with my own bubble of friends and I created a routine. I never really stayed close to contests, I would do my heat and then go away, staying in my comfort zone. I surfed a lot and trained hard. I was just happy, I was in a good momentum.
When I found out I was joining the Tour... that call was definitely one of the greatest moments in my life. When you really work for something for so long which you never know if you're gonna get there or not, and because it’s so competitive it's such an emotional high when you achieve it. Definitely a great moment in my life.
You travel a lot with surfing. Do you have a favourite surf spot or country to surf?
I don't really have a favourite. Everywhere is a new and different adventure. I just returned from the Nixon Challenge, which for me is such a rewarding event. We went to Ireland, which at this time of year is not really the time to go, but we just saw it from a completely different perspective, and it was so crazy. Before that we went to China, Russia, and all that. It's not about scoring always the best, most perfect wave, but it's everything around it and what other things that surfing has to offer you.
That's also one of the reasons I'm expanding, and I created Surfguide.com, to really find whatever surfers are looking for and all the other things around it. As i said it's not always about the best waves or the best accommodation or whatever. Sometimes it can be the simple things, and with good friends they make a trip so incredible.
Do you have a wave that you will always remember for the rest of your life?
Yeah, it was definitely my first wave. And that's why it's not how good you surf, or if you are a better surfer, or whatever, or more happy, or more rewarded with surfing. For me, it was still the first wave the was most incredible one. Obviously, I can remember certain waves, but I would have to concentrate and find them in my mind, but that first one is always there. That's why I think that you can be total beginner and still have the rush of someone that surfs 8 feet barrels somewhere in Indo.
What do you think surfing needs more or less of?
I don't really care. Things are the way they are. I mean, more or less of something, I'm not quite sure. It's not really something I think about or worry about, because it's not something we can control. There's a lot of pros, there's a lot of hipsters, there's a lot of everything. But what I find quite funny is all those hipster boards which actually make things more complicated in the water. It's quite a lot of showing off, instead of enjoying the wave and the ocean in the best way possible. And sometimes you see the weirdest boards just to look cool to walk on the beach. But then in the water, they just complicate your life so much and make things way more difficult. And you can't really ride the waves with those things!
Tell us a bit about your companies: JAM Traction and Surfguide. How did you start them and what are they about?
JAM Traction, was something I had in my mind quite a while ago, and I really liked the name and the idea. We had the concept of traction pads, and I got Connie involved as well. We started this together, coming up with some designs, contacting factories and testing materials. This all took about a year until we found the right densities of materials. We didn't want to launch the company until we had the product we really were happy with. So it took about a year to go through that process. Everyone that tested it was really surprised!
We have now been in the market for about a year, and things are going really well. We have a really good team of designers, and the marketing direction is really cool. We're trying to build a cool core brand, step-by-step, making mistakes and learning from them. I think everyone is really stoked with JAM, looking to be the first European strong company in this area, and also already being recognised in many places around the world.
There's a lot of pro surfers that are trying it out. They want to ride it. Also renowned shapers are using it. Timmy Patterson put JAM on the last surfboard he shaped. So yeah it’s a really cool project. It's also really challenging, a lot of work! It's just as rewarding as many other things of being a pro surfer. It's a new part in life.
Surfguide.com is another idea that came to mind on the couch talking about all the surf trips we've done and adventures. And basically we just talked about the great things about surfing. And the way to transmit this to the general public and make general people experience their travels in the best way possible, and give them the best places that really match their abilities or what they're looking for. It is a surf engine where you can filter out everything that you're really not looking for or looking for, and direction your adventures in a certain way.
So everything we’ve gathered through years of the travelling, will empower this surf engine. It’s getting a great response: we were featured in LA Times, and we're also studied by universities. The more you engage with it, the more fun it is as well, and the more creative you can get timing your travels or bring out your adventurous side. Surfguide is probably a more far-fetched business because it goes in many directions, and we're not quite sure yet in which ones it will go. But again, it's also a really, really cool project, cool adventure!
How do you manage your time between your companies, surfing, competitions, and travelling?
Well, I think every surfer actually has quite a lot of time in hand, and many surfers sometimes don't know what to do with their time or they just hang out with the computer or watch movies. When you're travelling or when the weather is not good… Or during contest,when you wanna relax, for me it's work. The more you do that, the more it comes back your way as well. It doesn't matter if you have a company or an idea... create contacts, talk to people, engage. The more you do, the more you get back.
Now I'm really happy, both JAM and Surfguide.com can go on many directions, and it's a learning process. But the more you engage in the project, the more you learn and the more comes your way. And that's a great thing. In life, I think the more you engage in things and look forward with things, the more chance you have of finding your direction.
Will you stop surfing and focus on your companies?
I probably never stop surfing. There's no reason for me to do that. Competitively, yeah, maybe in a few years. I mean, as long as I can travel and do contests. Right now I'm working quite closely again with the Semente Surfboards on some different materials, stuff I've been trying out, and they really been helping me, got second in the last Nationals in Porto. And I'm going to go South Africa for the Prime. But obviously when you focus on the companies, you miss out on certain things, and you're not as prepared as you could be. But I try to do the best of both sides.
I had my highs of European Champion, Junior Champion of European Open Champion, third in the World Juniors, and then qualifying for the CT. I'm really, really stoked with my career, and I am also looking forward to different adventures, and it's just in my personality. Some people thrive for one thing all their life. I like to learn different things, so I'm kind of doing both things at the same time.
Where can we find you online?
Posted by: Marta Gallardo, on July 3, 2016
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