By Sarah Francis
What was supposed to be a two week holiday, led to an 18 months sojourn when a high-flying young woman quit her finance job to travel the world KITE SURFING.
Blonde bombshell, Johanna Martinsson, 29, handed in her notice 18 months ago at a big accounting firm, put her belongings in storage and booked a one way ticket to Panama.
After three months learning to kite surf, Johanna continued to travel the world and picked up sponsors on her way.
Since then, she has visited 18 countries including Cuba, USA, Canada, Italy and Spain.
As she trains to compete in the The World Kiteboarding League, she documents her journey from office to ocean @johanna__cecilia.
Johanna, who formerly worked management consultant, said: “I had never done again board sports in the first place.
“I saw a YouTube clip and thought it looked so cool so I googled the best places to kite surf. I found a holiday in Panama – this was 18 months ago.
“I basically left my office job to go and live by the ocean, much to the surprise of my family and colleagues.”
Johanna grew up in Sweden and moved to London to work as a management consultant before studying at Copenhagen Business School.
In January 2016, she visited Panama for two weeks to learn the basics and her can-do attitude impressed her instructors.
She said: “I was not very good at the beginning. I think I swallowed half the Caribbean Sea. But for some reason, I still enjoyed it. I was always the first one in and last one out.
“The guys that ran the crew were really wowed by my enthusiasm and told me to stay with them in Panama.”
She returned home and after speaking to her boss, decided to hand in her notice and book a one way flight back to Panama.
Johanna said: “I’ve always been very career driven. I was super motivated and worked really hard – maybe a little bit too hard.
“But the offer was too good. I really wanted to go back to Panama for three months as kite surfing is quite difficult to learn in the beginning and I wanted to reach that break through point.
“It struck me that I am so young, why shouldn’t I do this?
“I, more or less, decided on the morning I got back to work. I ask my boss for three months leave and he said no immediately. So I resigned. He was shocked but I had already decided inside.”
However, her family were not so pleased with the idea at first.
Johanna added: “I hadn’t discussed it with anyone. I called my mum and she started crying.
“My dad also called me up and had this long conversation.
“It was quite difficult to have your closest ones telling you it was horrid mistake, you start doubting yourself.”
But, after returning back to Panama, Johanna began to get to grips with her new sport.
She said: “After a month or so I was actually quite good at it.
“I was trying out new tricks that a lot of people won’t try as beginners.
“My plan was just three months, but I met so many people and travelled with them and all of a sudden it’s been a year.”
Thankfully, Johanna was able to fund her new passion through savings and sponsors that she attracted as she built her brand.
Johanna added: “I would love to get more sponsors and my goal this year is to compete at competitions.
“Whatever happens, I’ve had year and half of travelling and kite surfing and I’m actually quite good at it.
“So it was worth it, I am super happy.”
And even those how initially doubted the daring plan have had a change of heart.
Johanna added: “They have been really supportive and now they have seen what I’ve done with the brand I have built and the places that I have been able to see while kite surfing.
“They have seen the glory in it – if anything they are a bit jealous, now.”
Follow more of her epic journey here.