At the age of three, Jérôme Sahyoun came home from preschool one day and swore to his mother that he would spend his life under the open sky. It’s a promise the 37-year-old Moroccan has come good on.
After being expelled from school, Jérôme was put to work in the family business – a civil-engineering firm responsible for coastal infrastructure all over Morocco, Senegal and Equatorial Guinea.
But as a restless spirit addicted to surfing, that access inadvertently allowed him to forge his own path in life.
Independence is everything
“I became self-sufficient at an early age. At seven years old, I remember heading off to the desert with some fishermen and my older brother. We spent two months of summer holidays fishing in the wild, waking up and sleeping in accordance with the tide, no matter what time of day it was.
There were no roads; just the mountains, the sand and the lagoon. I learned a lot about nature from that experience: the calm, peaceful environment I was in and the people I was with helped me to develop a strong character.
Over time, I realised that the effort you put into your everyday training and the people you surround yourself with are crucial when you have demanding goals.”
Find your natural environment
“My uncle taught me how to surf relatively late, when I was 15, but it quickly became a part of my everyday life. I went to school until 17 but didn’t really find my mark there. It wasn’t me. I was then sent to work in the family business as a professional diver.
It was a much more suitable environment for me as I was in the ocean every day – whether it was surfing, fishing or diving – and that’s when everything clicked. It made me realise that I’d be inseparable from the ocean for the rest of my life.”
Serious success takes serious preparation
“At the end of the day, I’m always chasing something using a wide range of skills that are fundamentally connected. When you are hunting, you need to read the signs.
You need to know where the wind is coming from. It’s the same when you’re chasing waves: you’re anticipating.
My father said, ‘Always be the best. Always try your hardest.’ His work ethic made me realise that if you want to surf serious waves, you have to prepare seriously.”
Be like water: adapt to any situation
“I don’t really have a typical day. That’s the beauty of what I do. Right now I’m in-between Agadir and Essaouira, in a wooden fisherman’s house at the bottom of a cliff, looking out on a 3km long beach with no one around me.
My life really depends on the forecast, which I check all the time to plan my next few days and adapt. If the surf is not good because there are no waves, the fishing is more likely to be good.
And if the ocean is not suitable for fishing, I can go hunting. But I always wake up before sunlight to make sure I get the most out of the day.”