Savage elegance: longboard legend Marina Correia on her rise to fame and partnership with Maurice Lacroix
Just three years after taking up longboarding, Cape Verde’s newest sporting icon was crowned world champion in the sport in 2020. Now, she’s taking on a new role with Swiss watchmaker Maurice Lacroix
The only thing with more zip than Marina Correia as she races down the French Riviera in Nice on her signature longboard, is her astonishing career trajectory. After packing up and moving here from the gorgeous, lunar landscapes of Cape Verde at the age of 14, she soon found herself ensconced in the longboarding scene, focused on the peculiar upcoming sport that is something of a hybrid between skateboarding, surfing and freestyle dance.
Skip forward to 2020 and, at the age of 23 and just six years after first picking up a board, Marina was crowned world champion in longboard dancing and freestyle. And now, her accolades, relaxed ethos, sharp sense of style and her moves on the board have drawn the attention of Maurice Lacroix, the Swiss watchmaking firm, which made her a friend of the brand late last year. We speak to this remarkable young athlete about her career and triumphs, and what this new collaboration means to her.
Marina, how did your career in longboarding start?
I was born in Cape Verde, and came to France when I was 14. I started longboarding when I was 17, three years later. There is no culture of longboarding in Cape Verde; we know kitesurfing, we know bodyboarding and we know skateboarding, but longboarding? No. I didn’t even know about longboarding before moving to France.
But I love it. It’s like a mix of surfing and skateboarding. We dance on the board and throw a few tricks in, making it very difficult. The hardest part of the sport is knowing where to go next, or what the next step is, so you have to think ahead constantly. So when you’re competing, you have to balance the dancing and the tricks mentally, and it’s all improvised so you have to have the next few steps planned out at all times.
How would you describe your style on the board?
I would say my style is unique. I know a lot of women in the longboarding community and my style is quite different. I love putting myself in danger, whether it’s jumping down stairs or going much faster than other boarders. I like to describe my style as elegant and savage at the same time.
How did it feel to be crowned world champion in 2020?
It’s amazing to be told you are the best. But at the same time, we all have our own styles and tricks, and one is not necessarily “better” than the other. If you win a championship, like I did, you might have simply been the best on that day, not the best overall. Still, it feels amazing to have won.
I also feel like it’s not just me as an athlete that has been recognised, but also as a personality. A lot of people write to me telling me how inspired they are by my history, not just my longboarding. I like to push [others] to be the best they can, both on the board and in their personal lives – I’m very close to my fanbase and I love to talk to them about life and mental health, not just longboarding. I feel like lots of people think I represent black girls, and girls in sport in general.
I think a lot of girls take on the world quite slowly. Particularly where I am from, many don’t even know they can go out into the world and get more from life than they currently have, that they can do better than they are currently doing. I think I’m the only Cape Verdean girl longboarding professionally, so I’d love to push more girls into longboarding and am trying to get more people to take it up in my home country. Women in Cape Verde are told that they should cook, clean and look after their children. It is a highly traditional society.
How did you first get involved with Maurice Lacroix?
Thiébaut [Bentz, marketing director] sent me a message to arrange a meeting, and once we were there he started talking about the brand’s aims and values, and I was totally into it. We match perfectly; both the brand’s values and my values line up almost exactly.
I’m not very materialistic, and I tend not to get along with people who are; the kind of people who show off their watches and brag about their wealth. I’m very humble and prefer simple things, and as such I love the human element of Maurice Lacroix.
Do you see a connection between your longboarding and your fashion choices?
Absolutely. Longboarding is a huge part of my life but I also love fashion – I’m always trying to mix and match my outfits to change things up depending on my mood. I don’t just wear bland sports clothes either; I like bright colours and photos and things like that.
It’s a little difficult to explain, but my style is based on uniqueness. I’m not, like, 100% woman. I don’t like skirts, I don’t like dresses and other typically feminine items of clothing. Instead, I like to mix things up. Yesterday, I wore large boys trousers with a crop top; a blend of feminine and masculine. I love contrasts, and this can also be seen in my longboarding. As I said: elegant and savage.
What’s next for you?
I just found out that I was nominated to be the ambassador for Cape Verde at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. It’s awesome. I think being nominated, as a girl, is a huge step for women in my country. I’m the face of Cape Verde at the Olympics. The whole country is very proud.
What’s your perfect way to spend an hour?
For me, it’s smiling, because I love being positive and it puts me in a good mood, along with reading positive things and generally improving my mood. And of course, longboarding. That caps off the perfect hour for me, because when I’m on the board, it’s impossible to be sad.