João Kopke
Full name: João Facio Kopke
AKA: Zenguito
Date of birth: 1 August 1995
Nationality: Portuguese
Home town: Carcavelos/Lisboa
Local spot: Carcavelos
Height / weight: 1,70 m / 65 kg
Started riding: 8 years old
Stance: Goofy
Favorite spot: Carcavelos, Reef (Ericeira)
Favorite trick: Barrel
Favorite event: Still to discover
Heroes: Taj Burrow, Kepa Acero, Jordy Smith, John Butler, Josh Kerr

I was born in 1995 and was lucky to be educated to work to be happy. I had two very supportive parents that taught me that life isn't easy but should still be very fun. My mum is a professional pianist and my father was also a musician so music was and is a big part of my life. When I was a little kid, I was lucky to be able to try out all kinds of activities until I found my passions.

I did gymnastics, soccer, danced/ fought capoeira, had drawing classes, pierced my ear and had weird hair when I was 9 years old. Then I found surfing and music and now I do not have a pierced ear nor too weird hair. I love learning, especially in the human interactions area, love art of all kinds and feel that I live my life with a lot of passion. But I haven't stopped searching for more!


When and how did you start doing your sport? During summer’04, on holidays, I was walking down Carcavelos beach with my mum and we saw a little surf school. I was a really agitated kid with too much time. I wanted to try it out and my mother booked surf lessons for me. I liked it but most of the time I didn't want to get out of the house to go surfing to play with my friends instead and she would make me go to the beach (I was 8). But, one day, out of nowhere I became addicted and never stopped.

When did you decide to become a pro? It was around the time I had to opt between college and surfing. I felt I had to dedicate all of my time to surfing and that that would make the difference. Today I feel that being a pro surfer doesn't necessary imply that you have to stop learning and that well organized time will help you improve all of your skills and ultimately your life. A good life is key to good surfing and pro surfing.

How did you become a part of O'Neill? Back in 2013 O’Neill became interested in my surfing and character and invited me to join the team. I've been a happy member ever since.

What makes you unreasonable? I'm a passionate surfer and musician since age 10. I was lucky to grow up in a family of musicians and that taught me to love everything I put myself into and to always try to find fun in everything I do. I'm a surfer that loves surfing every single time when going out. I play classic double bass in the national music academy and I sing lyrical. I like to improve my way of living and find happiness everywhere. That’s an unreasonable aim that in my opinion should be taken to the extreme of: If you love something, try your best to be really really good at it, because it will allow you to enjoy it the most.

What has been a highlight in your career? I have had some competitive success especially in the junior contests in Portugal where I won basically every title there was. But I think that for a surfer, sometimes the biggest of highlights are those barrels or those airs you remember and aim for. Those moments you exceed yourself and feel that you are, in fact, better than before.

What are your plans for the future? My plans for the future are to try to have more and better ways to take advantage of what I do, to make surfing even more fun and try to join arts and surfing in one big story/career.

Name 10 things you never travel without? Paper and pen, Wetsuits (because you never know), boardshorts (also because you never know), a book or two in case you finish the first one, a big wave board so there's no excuse, something to cover my eyes when I sleep, headphones, a glass crocodile my dad gave me for good luck (but I don't believe it actually brings any, nor ghosts), deodorant, and a snack for the road.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Pumping waves, a double bass concert next week, my mum playing piano in the living room, my phones alarm that I hate hearing, a cameraman saying today is the day, a contest, the sunrise, the chance to say: "you should have been here one hour ago", the fact that I hate hearing it, the certainty that today will be another interestingly fun challenge. I try to find motivation all around, and I think that that alone is a good reason to stop sleeping.

If we visited you at breakfast, what would you be eating? Croissants with honey and cheese, probably in a hurry because it's already 8 o'clock and my coach is waiting.

If you weren't surfing, what would you do? Probably I would be a musician, or would be studying world history, or writing. I hope I can still do all of that being a surfer.

Any other sports you’re good at? I was national gymnastics champ but that was ages ago. I have mean ping pong skills though.

What music are you listening to? Jazz, blues, classical… but I could listen to every kind of music, doesn't matter what gender.

What has been the scariest moment in your sport career? When the doctor said: You'll be out of the water for six months to a year. I cried like a little girl and put my ass in physiotherapy. I was competing in 4 months.

What was your most embarrassing moment in your career/life? I cried when I didn't win one stop of the national under 12 championship… it's not even because I cried it's because I cried like a little 5 year old kid who couldn’t get his ice cream.

How does your training routine look like? Depends on the time of the year but basically physical training and surfing. Sometimes I wake up and go straight to the beach other times I go to the gym and then to the beach. I like to train in the morning with my coach and do my free surf in the afternoon.

Describe your perfect day. I don't think that there should be only one kind of perfect day. I think that every time you go to bed feeling your bones tired of having loads of fun is a kind of perfect day and if you can feel that by doing different kinds of things you ought to have lots of perfect days, and you will surely be happier. For me it could be a day with a crazy session in the morning and a concert in which I play the shit out of my instrument, traveling somewhere alone and see some peeling perfect left-hander throwing barrel after barrel just for me, a full surfing day with my friends or my mum and dad, a day to remember with my girl… everything as long as I would lay down and say "I have a really lucky life" because I searched for it.

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