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Interview by Robin Pailler | Surf Photography by Tyler Boyce | Portrait by Brydie Watson

Heralding from Cornwall, England, Izzy Henshall has been quietly making a name for herself in recent times.

A former British and Junior champion, Izzy recently moved out to Noosa, Australia earlier this year. Yet despite residing on the opposite side of the globe, Izzy is still quintessentially British. Polite, humble, dare I say a little bashful. But don’t be fooled by her shy exterior, Izzy’s incredibly chatty once you break the ice. Having missed our chance for an interview in Rio recently, during the Vans Duct Tape Invitational, we waited for the jet lag to wear off and eventually aligned on opposing time zones for a chat over the phone.

Hey Izzy how’s it going? You back in Noosa now?

Yeah back in Noosa. I’m good. Feeling little bit out of it. Just got in from work.

Where are you working?

I’m actually working two jobs at the moment. One’s at a surf outlet and the other at Thomas Surfboards. It’s good fun.

What made you make the move to Australia?

It all started because James Parry moved out here. And for the past couple of years he kept saying, “come out to Aus! Come out to Aus!” And then Covid hit so I couldn’t. But also my shaper Thomas Bexon is out here, so I kinda wanted to get out and work on some boards with him and learn what does what with regards to surfboards. I also need to learn how to surf backhand so I thought Noosa would be the perfect place.

How’s that working out?

Erm….it’s going ok haha. I’m still searching for lefts but I can kinda go right now.

Nice! How do you find the culture in Australia compared to life in Cornwall?

The lifestyle is very different. Everyone gets up earlier, goes to bed earlier. Well most people in Noosa anyway. I’d say the best days in Cornwall in summer, are kinda like the average days here. And there’s just so much to do here. You can go up the beach in the car, explore the mountains, go to random islands, and there’s surf everyday here too.

Quite the luxury coming from Cornwall I guess. 

Haha exactly. And there’s also just so many good surfers to be inspired by here.

Who have you been hanging with out there?

I’ve found a nice local crew now, the ages kinda range a bit from 19 and then a couple of the guys are in their late twenties, they’re all very good surfers, but not very well known. Actually, that was a lie about being local, they’re local now but have all come from different parts of Australia, and five of us have ended up in one house in Noosa. They sorta feel like family now, and we have a pretty good collection of boards in the garage. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Zye Norris when I was there in Feb. Do you ever see him out there?

I’ve actually only seen him out once, surfed a fun bank with him, Sierra and Mason a couple of weeks ago. Wish I saw Zye out more, he’s incredible to watch. 

You recently got back from your second Duct Tape in Brazil. How did it compare to your first in South Africa?

I actually preferred Brazil because I kinda knew everyone already. So it wasn’t quite as nerve wracking as the first one as I knew what to expect. I attempted to be a bit more sensible with my alcohol consumption this time. 

How did you find surfing in Brazil? Because you girls got pretty stitched up by those waves in the opening heats.

Yeahhh… I actually only caught one wave on my log the whole time we were there. But I had a couple of good sessions on my twinny. I found it pretty scary on the log but I’m glad we all paddled out and it was useful having the jet ski there. 

What do you think you’d be doing if you’d never picked up surfing?

I actually have no idea……probably photography. When I was younger and wasn’t surfing I was kinda just taking photos. I went through phases of not really wanting to surf and doing other stuff. And photography was one of the things I kinda stuck with the entire time. 

Are you still shooting a lot at the moment?

Yeah a little bit. I keep finding handycams in charity shops. So I’ve been picking them up and filming a lot. But I’m yet to do anything with them.

Did you shoot anything in Brazil?

I shot one roll of film which I’ve just sent off to be developed. I brought my handycam and shot a couple of clips on the plane. And then as soon I landed it stopped working, literally as soon as I got there. Kinda gutted. But I’m looking forward to seeing my roll. Hopefully I’ll have a few shots.

What’s your plan for the rest of the year?

I’m gonna stay out here for a couple of months and then head back to Europe for maybe August, September and October. I haven’t booked flights yet and I still need to tell my boss…… It should be fun. I’m hoping to go to the Queen’s Classic in Biarritz again as that was a lot of fun last year. Then maybe do a road trip down to Gliding Barnacles. Then work my way up the coast and explore a little bit. I need to make the most out of being on that side of the world again as it’s a bit of a trek. 

Yeah right! It’s so far, feels like you’ve got to make the most it.

Definitely! It’ll be nice to enjoy the summer there without working. Because normally I just work all summer to make the most of the tourism and avoid the hecticness. 

What jobs would you normally be working?

Last few years I was lifeguarding and working in the surf shop as well.

I feel like everyone I know from Cornwall has lifeguarded at some point.

Haha yeah it’s just one of those things you end up doing as a surfer there. People either love it or hate it I think.

Is it quite boring at times?

I never found it boring but you definitely need to stay switched on the whole time which can be exhausting. 

Have you ever had to go in and save anyone?

I’ve only had to do one little rescue. It was a super quiet day and my senior let me go in for a surf. As I was coming out, I got called over, still in my wetsuit and there was a kid out on a bodyboard in a rip so I just had to grab a board and go out. It was one of those mornings where it was so dead, nothing was happening and then suddenly it kinda kicked off.

How’s the Australian cuisine by the way? Have you indulged in any Wallaby yet?

Haha I haven’t actually. I’ve had a couple of chicken parmis which are very Australian and a few pies as well. They’re as close to a Cornish pasty as you’re gonna get. 

True! I’ve got to admit I’m not much of a meat eater but I really liked Wallaby.

Oh I don’t know if I could do it though. They’re just so cute. I have noticed that everyone eats a lot of meat out here in general. Like back home I hardly ever eat meat but out here you end up eating it every single day.

Right! I thought it’d be way more vegan and veggie friendly but it’s just a nation of carnivores.

Literally! I’ve think I’ve only met three or four veggies since I’ve been here.

But overall I feel like everyone eats really well over there.

You kinda have to, I think because of the heat. If I’m not eating well when it’s that hot, it makes me feel so crap. You kinda need to be eating good food to get good energy. 

How’d you find the vibe in the water in Noosa compared to Cornwall? When Alexei and I were there recently we felt so welcomed by everyone, although admittedly we were cruising with Julian (Wilson) which was probably why everyone was so friendly to be fair.

It is definitely very warm and friendly in the water here. I made a lot of friends quite quickly surfing Noosa. You get to know everyone quickly. Within a week or two I’d always know a couple of people out in the water. There are a few people that’ll make comments about leg ropes, leashes, whatever. It’s normally the old grumpy guys. I still need to work out a good response haha.

You’ll have to ask James Parry for tips. You guys have obviously been friends for a long time. It’s probably fair to say he’s helped you out a lot.

Yeah James’ has helped so much! I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now without him. He was the main one that linked me up with Vans, and Thomas too. It was all him. He started shaping my boards and I think that was another reason I’ve enjoyed surfing so much. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have progressed. He’s pushed me so much and given me a lot more confidence. He’s got me into contests and that kinda stuff. He’s still helping me so much with projects and the way to go about doing things.

How did you guys meet?

I always knew of him when I was younger. But he always seemed to be away a lot. My parents knew him well though and then when I was after a new board I chatted to him and got to know him after that. 

And now he’s convinced you to move to Noosa.

I know. And originally I was only going to come for three months. Everyone told me that I’d stay. It’s been six months already so I guess they’re kinda right on that one.

What do you miss most from the UK?

My family and friends definitely.

Any British confectionaries?

I do miss pasties.

You’re so Cornish.

Yeah but you can’t beat Cornish pasties.

True. Who’s inspiring you most in the water these days?

Ah that’s a tough one. I think I’ve always been inspired by both Karina and Lola. They’re still my favourite surfers. They’ve got such great style. It was really nice to see them surf again in Brazil even though the surf was huge! 

Do you ever trip out that you’re friends and you get to hang out with them now?

Oh yeah fully. Sometimes it feels like I’m kinda dreaming. 

Yeah that whole Vans crew are the best.

Definitely. Everyone’s so welcoming and I feel like everyone’s pretty like-minded too, so it’s just so easy to get on with everyone. I’m super lucky to be part of such a good team. 

Well let’s hope we all get to hang in Biarritz sometime this summer.

Fingers crossed.

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