Barbados and Newcastle

 
Its been about two months since I was on a big high after finishing 2nd to Johanne Defay at the 6000 world qualifying event in Newcastle. It was a long week of competition with a couple of lay days at the start but then at least one heat every day so physically thats better for the body but mentally it can be quite draining, making sure you’re eating right and trying to time it with when your heat is going to be. Making sure you are getting enough sleep, stretching, rolling and generally keeping your body and mind in the best place it can be. Newcastle being the first big comp of the year, most of the girls go in it including the big names like Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Johanne Defay and Tatiana Western-Webb. Definitely one of the harder qualifying comps of the year so going into it I thought I pretty decent goal to finish in the top 5 would be a good start. Somehow heats kept going by without me really thinking about it. Knocking out Tatiana in the quarters and Sage Erickson in the semi it was like I blinked and next thing I was in the final against Johanne Defay. I get weeks where I just know I’m feeling good and going to good but this week sort of grew better and better for me. Each heat I got more confident but it definitely helped a lot to have fellow competitor and good friend and Newcastle local Phillipa Anderson and her Dad help me out with where to sit and what waves to catch. Also halfway through the competition I swapped boards. The surf hadn’t really changed but I just felt like I needed a bit more spice. I hardly ever swap boards in competition so after one free surf on this board and knowing after one wave that from quarters onward I wanted to use that board, I knew I had found some great confidence which carried me all the way through to second place. Second I was happy with but you always want to win! I just didn’t choose the right waves against Johanne and she just did what she had to do. A well deserved win. A good start for me but this is only one hill on this marathon with plenty more to come!
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Vying towards qualifying for the World Championship tour is no easy feat and that’s before you even think about the surfing side of it! 
When the 3000 event in Barbados came up late on the 2017 schedule there were a few girls that were very indecisive on whether to go or not. Mainly for the girls living in Australasia because it’s such a long way to go, a lot of money and because it was only a 3000 you had to finish in the top three spots to make the trip worth while for points and money wise. 
It was one of the longest, weird routed trip I’ve ever done going from NZ through LA over to Toronto in Canada then to Barbados, a solid 48 hours of travel just one way! Four days of my life gone to being in airports, hotels and the air just like that. I must admit when I saw the itinerary I wasn’t too happy and if I had been going anywhere else but Barbados I don’t think it would of been worth it but even though I had a shocker first heat loss, yes all that way for 25 minutes, I was pretty upset afterwards but turned my attitude around and decided I could of been in worse places. I stayed with Aussie friend Philippa Anderson who unfortunately didn’t do well either but we decided to make the most of it and explore the small Barbados island. 
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Squeezing in our cute little rental car because yes; it was the cheapest we could find as usual. The maximum speed limit even on the highways which are like our normal roads at home was only 80km/h but the country is so small we could drive from Drill Hall beach on the East Coast where the comp was to one of Kelly Slater’s favourite waves in the world ‘soup bowls’ on the West coast in just 20 minutes. Nearly every road feels like an old dodgy back street with more holes in them than a strainer and the extra large pot holes have bright spray paint around them so you know to try and dodge those ones. Our poor little rental car! 
With about 90 percent of the population being black it was definitely easy to spot the two blonde surfer girls walking down the main streets of Bridgetown, at one stage I couldn’t see any other white person or tourist to be seen. The locals are lovely, I mean some of them didn’t seem to like their jobs but whenever we asked or needed something they were very accommodating. 
While in the supermarket Philippa and I overheard a conversation between the two staff, I thought it was a completely different language so went to good old Mr Google to find out. I quickly scanned the first thing that came up saying along the lines of “local slang is called bajan and is a mix of British and African”. The African got me thinking they actually had different words for things so one night I asked our taxi driver how do you say hello? His response was “hello”. How do you say thank you? Again after a little chuckle he replied “thank you”. I didn’t know if he was having me on or not but he finally explained that they just speak really, really fast. It’s the fastest English I’ve ever heard it really was like a whole different language but most of them understood our struggle to keep up so slowed down their speech when speaking to us. The whole time Philippa and I tried to speak as fast as them but didn’t even get close! 
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If I had to compare Barbados to somewhere close to home I would say maybe a little bit like Fiji except even hotter and the water is the most crystal clear and bluest of blues I’ve ever seen. If it was closer it would definitely be my quick getaway destination over Fiji, Bali, Australia and almost anywhere. I really hope it’s on next year because I loved it so much but I also want to improve on this years disappointing result there. A big congrats to Slick Ric (Ricardo Christie) for winning the 3000 in Martinique. Inspiring stuff! Next stop for both of us is Japan. Come on kiwis!
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