Stephanne Tranne

Stephanne Tranne, 19(in July 1998), is from a tiny island in the South Pacific called New Caledonia, where the sand is white and you spend days pondering life under a palm tree. He's quite the jet-setting wakeboarder: taking in the European tour, the U.S. season and then the Australian summer, and doing damned good. So good that he's signed with Hyperlite USA. I caught up with Stephanne in Sydney, Australia, where he was taking time to ride and brush up on language skills over cappuccinos. (It's best to read this with an exotic French accent and cigarette in hand to get the full effect of Stephanne.)

You're from a tropical paradise ... what's the scene like
in New Caledonia?
It's the best place to live. Very tropical and small. Wakeboarding is very popular. We have our own little four-stop tour where each round is held in different water conditions - behind a boat, in the surf - just for fun, you know. I love it there. It's very mellow.

When did you start wakeboarding?
About three years ago.

Why?
My dad was into barefooting, and I heard about wakeboarding in Australia, so I mail-ordered a board. After about a year of riding I went to Australia for a comp and to see what was up.

You've wakeboarded in a lot of different places. What was the most bizarre?
Where is your favorite?
When I was in Italy (I was coaching for a week) we rode on a beautiful clear lake in Rome, and on the top of the hill was the Pope's summer home. It was weird to think he might be there. It was like having the benediction of the Pope. Besides that, Paris has some crazy places to ride.

You've trained with some of the best - Darin Shapiro, Gregg Necrason - who influences you?
I like fluid and smooth riding that looks easy - like Necrason and Byerly style. I like to feel natural. I like spins, all the new tricks. I rode with Shapiro a few days but he's a busy man. I learned a lot in those few days. Riding with Necrason is riding with a friend. I don't like to train - just ride with friends who are good and see new things for myself, then try them.

You have some gnarly sponsors. Who are they and how did you hook them up?
Hyperlite is good to me. Paul O'Brien understands my style and love of riding. Oakley for sunglasses. Air France gave me deals so I fly at the same cost as an employee of the company. Also my state government gives me money - Province Sud - so that I promote my country when I travel. I'm lucky that my country supports athletes, because we are an island and they especially want to support water-sports, so they help me financially.

Cool sponsorship! So you travel a lot?
Oh yes, I like to travel first, then wakeboard. But I like to ride wherever I go for fun. I've lived in Paris and Australia, and this summer I will set up in Orlando. I like to experience cultures and people.

Goals?
This year, qualify for X Games in Thailand next month. After that, get top 20 on the tour. Go to South America and just have one long summer.

What tricks are you into at the moment?
I like doing Pete Roses, whirly birds, back roll to blind, spinning tricks.

What else aare you into?
If I can't ride, I play Sony Play Station. Cool Boarders is second to wakeboarding.

Any last words?
Come to my country, I'll hook you up - girls especially - can you say that for me?