After a casual passing conversation with my good friend and travel buddy Codie Klein and her parents (my second Mum and Dad) and learning the fact they were going to the Maldives for a family trip, they suggested my parents and I join too. I’m pretty sure they suggested it just as a nice gesture and didn’t actually expect us to crash their holiday! With a quick imessage to Dad, knowing that he had been wanting to go there for a while now, this was a good excuse of a stopover on the way to my next event in Spain and once something is set in his mind, it’s that way or the highway. We were heading to the Maldives!
I had already been to the Maldives twice, once on a boat trip and once staying at a resort on an island but I was excited to get my Dad there for the surf as compared to the Mentawais, it was usually rated as bath-like water with softer, easier and more ‘playable’ waves which was perfect for the old man the first few days. Unfortunate for him but good for me, we ended up striking a swell that was solid 6-8ft for most of the week and the locals there were saying they hadn’t had a swell like that in the last 2-3 years!
Staying at Hudhuranfushi Surf Resort with the exclusive Lohi’s left hander right on our front door step and all four of us (Dad x 2, Codie and myself) being goofy footers and a buffet for every meal, it was somewhere between Paradise and Heaven. With a couple of surfs a day, sometimes at Lohi’s and sometimes exploring around the other islands on the resorts boat to other breaks like Chickens, Cokes, Sultans and Jails. Three big right handers with Chickens my favourite left and lucky enough to score a few fun barrels there on my last day. With a lot of people heading to the Maldives for their honeymoons, this was my kind of honeymoon: getting into the classic cliche of surf, eat, sleep, repeat. Living the simple ‘surfers’ life in Paradise!
With a well surfed out and sun-kissed body, it was time to head to Spain. Not one to miss out on a traveling opportunity we managed a few days via Singapore which I would recommend to anyone to pop in for a few days to check out that amazing gardens and crazy cool architectural buildings.
From bikinis to full wetsuits and small waves, Pantin, Galicia, Spain couldn’t have been more opposite to the Maldives. Some would say maybe that wasn’t the best prep for the contest but I say surfing is surfing and I felt super fit, healthy and ready to go! Also with a good result history here, it always helps my confidence but on the flip side I’ve learnt never to let my armor down too much. Trying to take my usual laid back approach around the contest scene but also knowing all too well that this contest wouldn’t be worth it for me unless I improved my overall points which I needed to make at least the round before the quarters. With a couple of very close heats, I was scrapping through. I made it to the quarters! A 30 minute quarter final, I started off well and was sitting rather pretty with a 8.17 and a 5.6 and with only one minute to go,I was almost already thinking about how I was going to surf in the semi. With only small inside waves rolling through, even though I had priority, I let the other girl catch the wave thinking it was too small and she wouldn’t get the score on it. Big mistake Paige! Kicking myself as soon as I saw her finish the wave I knew she had passed me and there was no time left to resurrect my position. A bittersweet result, improving my overall points to help get me back on tour but at the same time just missing out on extra points that could make the difference at the end of the year on whether I qualify or not.
With way too much luggage after getting a free shopping spree from contest sponsor Pull&Bear we crammed into our little rental car and followed Ivan, a local from a couple of hours North of Pantin in Spain. He promised us a good swell, fun waves and nice Spanish food so with a 10 day break in between contests and no plan, we decided to check it out. Gijón (pronounced he-hhhon, almost like a donkey sound) is the main town where Ivan is from but he took us out to a ‘secret’ spot where the bay reminded me so much of NZ’s East coast town Whanagamata. It had the exact same river mouth set up and was very tidal. High tide it would look flat but as soon as it started going out, you would see perfect 3-4ft left hand barrels peeling along the sand bottom. We didn’t expect much and planned only to be there for a day or so but ended up staying for four days since the wave was so freaking good! Que Bueno!(so good!) Ivan being an ex pro surfer and now owning Elite Surf Coaching, he helped me out a lot those four days trying to perfect my technique. This wave really was like natures wavepool and was the perfect training ground.
With new friends and a new favourite part of the world, it was time for sad goodbyes, a quick day in another favourite place, San Sebastian before flying out to Morocco. After a missed flight due to weather, a night in Barcalona and finally arriving with my surfboards nowhere to be seen, we made it safe and sound in Morocco. Sitting here writing this still with no boards and hoping the contest doesn’t start yet. A new Country for me, I’m off to explore!