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New and improved

After a bit of time at home enjoying family, friends and my re-found love for golf I was straight back into a new year of competing with the first event kicking off in January, there wasn’t much time for rest. A new 6000 event in Florida, I went with a goal of wanting to carry on my momentum from last year and start this year strong. With my first heat being super nerve-wracking and to the point where everyone had given up on me (even myself almost) with five seconds remaining I had last priority and for some reason the girl coming second didn’t stop me from going. I went on to do two whacks to get a 7 and get through the heat! Don’t EVER give up! I then went on to win a few more heats and end up with a keeper result of a 5th place finish first up. Florida you think of nice balmy weather and water where a lot of people head to for retirement. However we unfortunately struck a bad cold snap. I was down at the beach with five layers on, unprepared and shocked that it was three degrees! However I semi got the job done that I went there to do and we also luckily timed it right to see a rocket launch at NASA.

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Back to my second home on the Gold Coast for more training, technically in the water and at the gym. May I just slip in that I was pretty proud to get up to squatting 100kg! Working with my MtWoodgee surfboard shaper Wayne McKewen on new boards for the Championship tour but also different boards for the qualifying series as the waves are slightly different haha. My next comp was the annual 6000 in NewCastle. With past good results here including a 2nd place last year, I was coming into it pretty confident. The tables turned from Florida and unfortunately getting knocked out in the last minute in my first heat was not my plan. Those first round losses really suck and it took me a good couple of days to really let it go and focus on trying more new boards for the next comp the week after in Manly.

Most boards are made out of a ‘normal’ foam which myself and most other surfers use day in day out and then there’s other boards made out of a material called epoxy. This material makes the surfboards super light and buoyant a bit like a cork. It’s known by surfers to be really good in really small waves which Manly was really small. I had only had two surfs on this new epoxy board but it felt great right from the get go. Sometimes using a new board in a cmpetition can be scary because you may not know exactly how it reacts in some turns or certain part of the waves so it can be a bit of a risk for falling off, stuffing up and not getting the scores you need. So I bit the bullet and used the new epoxy board! It went amazing! I got a lot of people telling me how good it looks and it helped me surf all the way through to the semi finals and finishing 3rd! I had never ever got a result in Manly. I just wouldn’t say it was ever my ideal conditions but out of all the years this year was probably my least favourite conditions. Almost flat! I even came up against Silvana Lima – the small wave queen in the quarter finals. She’s amazing in those conditions and somehow me and my new favourite board beat her. Don’t EVER give up!

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Photo taken by: Charlotte CurdIMG_4709Photo taken by: Charlotte Curd

Then back to the Gold Coast again for the ‘Dream tour’ to start. I’d known for a few months that I had re-qualified but I don’t think the true feelings and excitement really kicked in until my first heat started! It was so good being back in the water with the best in the World. Narrowly missing out on winning my first heat against Sally Fitzgibbons and Silvana Lima, I lost in round two to event winner Lakey Peterson. I felt really good within myself and my surfing and my boards felt amazing. Obviously like any competitive person, I was pretty bummed about losing so early on but a lot of positives came out of it. I didn’t hear but my friends told me that the commentators kept saying I was the ‘new and improved’ Paige back on tour.  I’m super excited to head back to Bells! It has a place in my heart as I first came here over a decade ago for the International grom final which was run alongside the CT here, so I got to see all my heroes in real life for the first time ever then eventually went on to qualify and surf against a lot of them. This year it’s Mick Fannings last CT event before he retires while for me it’s my 50th CT event of my career. Hopefully I can ring that famous bell!

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Above two photos taken by: Trent Callaghan

Below photo taken by: Ed Sloane/WSLRoxy Pro Gold Coast 2018

Paige – Laid bare (Magazine article)

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In 2008 aged 19 a young surfer from a relatively unheard of place called Oakura on the world surfing scene, busted down the doors of the Womens World Tour and cemented her place on the illustrious Dream Tour one of the youngest female surfers to ever achieve the honour. For the next six consecutive years that young girl took on the worlds best, lived out of a suit case and flew the flag for NZ on the greatest stage in the world. During that time, she learnt a heck of a lot, felt great elation and experienced massive heartbreak, and everything in between. No one ever expected a six year streak to occur, yet Paige Hareb did! She believed in herself, and fought hard for what she wanted with massive sacrifice and commitment. She grew into a women and was considered a senior stalwart of the Tour.
Then in 2014 The world that Paige had spent so much time immersed in, given her every waking moment to, had spilt blood sweat and tears over, all came crashing down when she failed to re-qualify.
It would be easy to crawl into a hole and feel sorry for yourself, yet Paige knew if she wanted to gain her place back where she belonged she had to climb back on that horse! Yet womens surfing over those years had gone from strength to strength with young girls throughout the world all inspired by Women like Paige, had lifted the bar and they to wanted a piece. It wasn’t going to be easy and over the next couple of years Paige had to face the fact that she’d have to re-invent herself, strip back her habits that had served her so well over those six long years on tour and lift her own game. For the next two years she came oh so close sitting on the bubble, yet missed out! There was heart break and massive disappointment, she was also simply surviving on the smell of an oily rag, and many other athletes  who have been in the exact same position have thrown in the towel and called time! Yet Paige doesn’t have that in her makeup, remember this was the same women that fought a charity boxing match and for the entire fight threw punch after punch, took punches square on and kept coming back for more, that bout really kinda sums up the qualities she possesses. This year after a ripper start to the year, we all sat on the edge of our seats, poised patiently, waiting for the announcement after the last event of the year, waiting for confirmation that Paige had done enough to climb back on that horse for 2018 and when it came we knew tears would be flowing down Paige’s cheeks. We pumped our chests and stood proud, Aotearoa had a surfer back on the World Tour!
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Firstly Paige, WOW a massive congratulations on claiming your spot back on tour! Nine years ago you qualified for your first season on the Dream Tour, now your back, hows that feel?
THANK YOU! Wow nine years? When you say it like that, it seems so long but it’s gone so quick! Trying to re-qualify also felt like forever but now that I’ve done it, it also seems like it’s gone quick and I’m completely over the moon!
Describe these last three years and let us in on the emotional rollercoaster of trying to re-qualify. Upon dropping off the tour what did you have to do over these last three years to make sure you had the best possible shot?

As soon as I knew I had dropped off tour I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I was going to get back there the very next year! Then I missed out by one spot, as much as it hurt it gave me confidence to know that I was so close and had some bad luck in heats so again went into the second year wanting it more than ever, I think I actually trained too hard and too much on land, sounds silly but in hindsight I think I was trying too hard, or at least trying too hard in the wrong areas and once again came so close but failed. At this point I was running out of money and struggling to find sponsors that believed in my ability so with a combination of self talk along the lines of ‘third time lucky’ and ‘stuff it, don’t Ry too hard, this could be your last year so enjoy it, enjoy your friends and the places you go because you might not be back here’ and lastly before and around every heat when my competitive side kicked in, in my head was something like ‘stuff everyone else’

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Obviously you’re a completely different person and surfer to the young girl that walked into the spotlight in 2008, give us an insight into some of the things you’ve learnt the hard way and had to learn in a hurry when on tour.

Yes looking back I was a very young 17yr old on my first year on the World Tour. I had traveled but always under the guidance of my parents or some guardian. While all my friends were heading to University and partying every weekend, I was being told what to do and what to eat and where to go. My friends were becoming adults and in a way I still felt like I wanted to be with them doing that even though being a Pro surfer is the best thing in the world so I think being that young I was just more into having fun and experiences the world and cultures and probably didn’t focus on competing and doing well as much as what I should of. So nine years later, I feel like I’ve got a lot of that out of my system, I’m a woman, I’m more mature with everything in general and I think my competitive streak will live with me forever, I’m probably more determined than ever now!

Theres absolutely no doubt now that you are NZ’s most successful surfer, the World dTour is considered the pinnacle of the sport, and you not only spent six years on tour but have now re-qualified, which no other kiwi surfer has done, do you feel you get the credit you deserve from the wider surfing audience?

That’s a hard question for me to answer, honestly I do this sport and the competition side of things because I love it. I’m proud to be from NZ and I guess to have accomplished those little feats but at the end of the day none of that stuff matters. If I’m happy, healthy and still love what I’m doing then I’m going to keep doing it. Of course I have big goals that I want to achieve but either way I don’t really care if it ends up in the paper or not. I mean it would be nice to see something in the news other than the All Blacks every now and then haha.

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The general surf public probably don’t have an understanding of how qualifying events work, but it seems for the last few years the Womens Qualifying Series has seen less and less opportunities to qualify, with less highly rated events, therefore meaning you only have several chances to perform and get a result and if you don’t you’re resigned to going through it all again the following year.

About when I got knocked off tour they changed to less events and harder to qualify. You really do have to hype yourself up for the big events and try to do well because you don’t have many chances.

You have some loyal supporters that have stuck by you through thick and thin, yet you haven’t had a major financial sponsor for many years, everyone knows the Tour costs big coin, how much does this affect your performance and mindset, simply fighting to get from event to event.

Yeah I want to give a big shout out to my shaper Wayne Mckewen and MtWoodgee surfboards who have been the only sponsor that have hung around with me for the last decade! The sponsor thing is definitely a hard one and a lot of them do want results which I can understand so yeah the last three years have been tough and I honestly think this might of been my last year doing it if I hadn’t qualified again because the tour really does dig deep into your bank account. So hopefully now back on the world stage sponsors will be more keen to get their brand out there on this Paige Hareb walking/surfing billboard!

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Womens surfing right now has some massive talents, inspirational women surfers that hands down shred, yet from an outside perspective a lot of the highest profile women surfers and the women that many sponsors are looking for and promoting are the ones taking the most clothes off or wearing the least amount as opposed to their surfing ability. Several high profile women surfers have recently been outspoken about this, what’s your take, obviously taking into account some of them may be your good friends! Was there ever a point when you though bugger this I need some coin, theres a comp in Santa Cruz and while I should be wearing a steamer, hood, booties, gloves, I’m gonna go out in a G-string and earn some moolah?

It’s a hard issue. There’s definitely a lot of girls that get product and money sponsorships for the way they look or how little they wear which each to their own but at the same time it’s annoying because they are under cutting girls that rip and actually deserve the money to try and help them achieve their goals. Then you have a marketers dream like Alana Blanchard who I was on tour with. I think most people think of her and her ass and have no idea that she actually rips too! In saying that, it’s kind of sad that most people only know her for her ass because she is an amazing surfer and sportswoman which she deserves credit for.

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Kiwi surfers quite often state that they’d love to see and event on our shores, well that happened and you were a big part of that, where for a few years we had a World Tour and then World Qualifying events, you must have been massively proud to show your home region to the best women surfers in the world, and do you think it could ever happen again?

Yeah that was a huge effort by Craig Williamson and my Dad from Surfing Taranaki and many other volunteers to make that happen! One ear we had over 60 different sponsors to make it work which is a lot of hard work putting all of that together!

I don’t think it will happen in Taranaki again but I have heard rumours of it happening again somewhere else in NZ which would be pretty awesome!

The 2018 WSL World Tour has had a recent revamp, which hasn’t washed that positively with everyone, but you will have 10 events and obviously the big news is you will get to compete in Kelly’s wave pool for the first time, what are you most looking forward to?

Yeah there’s some amazing new events on the tour, I’m so excited to surf Slaters pool and apparently I get to test it out before the event by myself! I’ve also always wanted to get to JBay so I can’t wait!

However looking at the whole tour, basically six of the stops are right hand point breaks, three are beach breaks and slaters pool. So to win a world title you don’t need to surf left all year which I don’t really agree with to get the complete and most well rounded world champ.
So between now and the first event the Roxy Pro in March at Snapper, what do you have planned to prepare for your best showing in 2018?

I’ve already started training and thinking about next year. I’ve teamed up with a new fitness trainer and coach on the Gold Coast so spending a bit of time here, I’ll be home for a month over Xmas then head to my first was event of the year on Jan 15th in Florida before a month on the Gold Coast, then another was in Newcastle and Manly before Snapper starts. It’s going to be a big year!

Well once again Paige we are all so proud of you, we wish you a Merry Xmas and hope you get some downtime over the New Year and festive period. And come the start of the 2018 Tour we’ll all be there supporting you, either on the sand or in spirit.

Crunch time!

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After an epic six week trip, I headed home for a couple of weeks mainly to drop off excess baggage and to see friends and family before realizing I like the cold less and less as I get older and booked a last minute flight to the Gold Coast as I do a solid two weeks of training before my last two events of the year.

The ‘pointy’ end of the year (pun intended). It’s that time of the competitive surfing year where the numbers start getting crunched whether you’re going for a World Title, trying to stay on tour or trying to get back on the ‘dream tour’ through the World qualifying Series (WQS).

 

If you’ve been living under a rock, I’m currently trying to re-qualify on the WQS to get back on the ‘dream tour’ of the Women’s World Championship Tour (WCT)(top 17 Women in the World). So with only two events to go; a 3000 in Kamogawa, Chiba, Japan Oct 25-30 and a 6000 at Birubi beach, Port Stephens, Australia it really is getting to crunch time!

It’s a bit hard to explain but the bottom six women from the WCT at the end of this year will fall off the tour and be replaced by the top six women on the WQS tour. If there are any women that re-qualified on the WCT by finishing in the top 10 that also did the WQS tour this year and finish in the top six then they won’t be counted as part of the ‘top six’ qualifiers and the next spot will be the next person down on the rankings. So currently at the time of writing this there are three women who are ‘double qualifying’ meaning they are currently in the top 10 and top six on the WCT and WQS respectively. Since there are three, that means you count down the next three spots on the rankings to 9th. So whoever is currently ranked at 7th, 8th and 9th would qualify right now if the competitive year was to end right now. I’m currently in that 9th position so I would love for the tour to finish right now but reality is I need at least one more solid result to solidify my position, if not move up the rankings which is my main goal right now for the last two events of the year.

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I’m halfway through training on the Gold Coast, have a new MtWoodgee board that I’m loving and making my surfing feel spicy so my main focus is just to carry that through to Japan and back to Australia and hopefully next time I’ll be writing about how good the re-qualification feeling is! Fingers crossed for me please! I’m off to qualify for myself, for my family, friends, sponsors, fans, for the people who didn’t think I could do it and for the people who have always believed in me and been there through thick and thin. Come onnnnnn! Lets go!

Maldives & Spain

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!

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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.

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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!

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California

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Big. Everything is big in America. The big LAX sign when you leave the airport, the super size options at every American diner even though the regular size is already big enough to feed at least two people. The big highways for the big cars (their small cars are like the biggest cars in New Zealand). Even their patriotism comes in a big presence with American flag flapping away on nearly everyone’s property. With all this being said, I matched the size of ‘big’ with my expectations to go well at the Supergirl Pro in Oceanside.

IMG_1189After a surf trip to Lakey Peak of solid non-stop surfing, I was feeling fighting fit and ready to go for a competition. Still deciding to get there two weeks early, let’s be honest here; because 30degrees in California is a lot easier to surf more than 3 degrees in NZ. I also have a great little or should I say big set up in San Clemente. A friends house to stay at that’s super close to all surf spots including the famous Trestles break, a fun gym up the road (yes I said fun and gym in the same sentence) and my coach just down the road. The perfect combination for a pro surfer trying to get better and get back on the World Championship Tour.

With many surf breaks along the coast it can be harder choosing a spot or sitting in the crazy highway traffic that always seems to be ‘peak’ time than it is to find a wave every single day! Wave and weather wise this place amazes me every year with its consistency and you can definitely see why a fair few Pro and lifestyle surfers have moved their whole families and lives to live in or near San Clemente.

Competition time I felt I had done everything right, I was feeling great and ready to go. Even after all these years of competing and experience I still find the first heat the most nerve wracking. Maybe because no one likes to fly half way around the world to lose in 25minutes although I just never like losing ever!

My first heat the surf was firing for Oceanside. Clean 3ft lefts and rights. I started right on the buzzer with a big right hander, two big turns getting an 8.5 ride. Straight back out to get a back up score on a left with a little ‘head-dip’ barrel scoring a 7.5 I could of come in from the heat right then and there and won the heat and only four minutes had passed. With no pressure at all now and in a heats perspective, a ton of time to go, I was smart for once and played the patience game waiting for another big right to score another eight point something ride officially combo-ing the rest of the girls in my heat. As I sat back out the back and listened to the commentator ramble on about me and my scores I thought to myself that in the 10-15years I’ve been competing, this was one of the best heats of my surfing career! When you’re quickly becoming one of the older girls on tour and wondering when you should stop competing starts to creep into your mind every now and then, this was quite the moment where I thought to myself that maybe I’m only just coming into my prime haha! That big heat fitted my big expectations perfectly.

FullSizeRenderWith highs there are lows. I went straight from one of the best heats of my life to a close heat losing by 0.5 because of my own mistakes. No one to blame but myself.   Kicked myself for days about it but I have to move on because this year is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Moving down the ratings from 5th to 8th stings but at this point I’m still qualifying for the World Championship Tour with two 6000s to go.

I need one more top five finish to solidify my spot so let’s bring on Pantin, Spain! (August 29 – Sept 3)

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Lakey Peak

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From the outside looking in, anyone would think that we were the best of friends and had been traveling with each other for years. Codie Klein is like my annoying but caring, funny little sister but traveling with Ellie Brookes and Isabella Nicholls was a first for me. Codie the social butterfly was the connection between us all and kept whispering about a trip to one of her favourite surf locations, Lakey Peak. She thinks it’s her eighth time there. With all of us having a busy competition schedule, we found some time in between the Los Cabos event in Mexico and the Supergirl Pro in America. I didn’t think it was going to happen with all this talk and not booking our trip until only one week before we flew out whilst still in Mexico.

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Even though I was the only kiwi and luckily can handle a lot of flak from the Aussie girls, we quickly became a tight knit group, spending our first night in Bali and all buying matching mosquito pants and naming ourselves the ‘Quad squad’. For all of us I think it was our first ‘surf trip’ away from competition in a long time yet somehow with the perfect waves everyday ranging from 2-6ft, we did not get to relax! Up every morning at 5:30am and surfing six plus hours a day with minimal time to spare to eat, undeniably check our instagram, play ‘monopoly deal’ card game and straigth back out to do it all again. Ready for bed every night by 7:30pm. Some of us single but definitely not looking to mingle.

The first few mornings seemed like a breeze. Our bodies were fresh and we thought we had sussed out a good deal with the local boatman ‘grommet’ to save our energy for surfing instead of paddling half a km out across the reef to the break Lakey Peak and back every surf. Unfortunately we learnt the hard way even though every morning when we handed him what we thought was the right ‘agreed’ amount and he would say ‘yes it’s ok’. After the first few days we realized he wasn’t happy through someone else so decided to start paddling from then on. Pretty sure I lost a few kgs that week.

On our way to Lakey Peak Codie and I tried to promise each other that we would go running everyday. This quickly went out the window as we barely found time to eat between surfs. At every meal the main converstaion was how tired, crispy and ‘cooked’ we were feeling but also what time we would have our second or third surf. This was always discussed over Isabella’s new favourite card game (because it was her first time playing) Monopoly where she practically forced us all to play at every meal. It was a good thing though as it forced us to do less scrolling on that app, I think it’s called instragram.

 

With Codie pretty much being a laid back local as it was her 8th time at Lakey Peak, Isabella most of the time and myself being pretty cruisey. Then there was Ellie with constant questions like “Have you girls put mosquito spray on?”, “Are you taking malaria tablets?” then on the last day when one of the boys needed some tape for his knee, she whipped out a full first aid kit like she was a walking chemist. Some would say over the top worrier and some would say well prepared. Me being the complete “worry about it when it actually happens” would probably still be relying on her so I won’t mock her too much haha but I do think that was the biggest difference between a veteran decade traveller and a rookie traveller.

 

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Speaking of a decade traveller. I literally hadn’t been to Lakey Peak for 10 years so I was excited to see the changes. It was pretty funny and cool to see that nothing had changed, not even the hotel Amin Ghadi had anything renovated or done to it. I think the biggest things I noticed was there was a new tower out on the reef, a new restaurant ‘the wreck’ and unfortunately, whole lot more rubbish scattered everywhere. I think it might of been because of the local holiday but there was a lot more people in Lakey Peak. Most of the Women and girls covered in burkas. Every time we went in and out for a surf, even at 6am we would get asked to stop by a local for a photo. Being one of the only blonde girls there with minimal attire on of a bikini, we were complete opposite to them. The biggest joy of traveling though is that with a language barrier we all know and like a smile, a high five and a photo.

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After all the recent articles about Bali cooking and serving dog in their meals, I instantly became vegetarian while I was there. I thought it would be hard but I almost felt better and enjoyed all their local gadi-gadi peanut sauce flavours. It wasn’t until I got to Bali for a few days after the trip, a much needed holiday after a holiday (We are spoilt and appreciate it a lot but we really did work hard, surf a lot and push our bodies in Lakey Peak) where I really enjoyed the vegetarian lifestyle, with so many cool new cafe’s mostly opened by Australians I assume but with some crazy, amazing vegetarian recipes and flavours that blew my mind, tastebuds and aesthetically pleased me.

 

If you’re planning an Indonesian getaway, if you’re a surfer I would definitely recommend Lakey Peak but I’m warning you now all you’ll be doing is the cliche’ surf, eat, sleep, repeat. If you’ve got a family or you’re a ‘foodie’ then Canggu, Bali is the place to be. Although you can still get a decent ‘real’ coffee at Fat Mah’s in Lakey Peak.

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Now for us girls, it’s a bit of time at home, for me time in California to re-set and get our minds in the competition waves and mind frame again for the Supergirl Pro in Oceanside, California at the end of this month. Always a little bit hard to re-adjust to after a perfect week of waves and good times!

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Arigato & Gracias; Japan & Mexico

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Heading back to Japan for only my second time ever, I was still very excited. Partly to do with the fact that Tokyo City is a crazy, different place that a small town girl like me loves to get lost in for a day of shopping, eating and a bit of a culture shock. Also the fact that this competition was going to be at the exact same beach where they are hoping to have the surfing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. So with my big goal in mind of representing New Zealand at the Olympics, I was pretty keen to get a sneak peak at the place.

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Before heading there, a few of the girls sent out a group message warning us about the leaking Nuclear power plant still unable to get under control after the major earthquake and tsunami there years ago now. Of course before going I was a bit wary of it but after talking to local people about it, they said the water is checked three times a day and that it has be fine for ages. I was happy to be reassured but not that happy about the water almost being colder than home in winter!

We were in an area called Shiba on the Chiba peninsula. About an hour and a half drive from Narita airport. It’s a complete contrast of Tokyo. A cool little country like surf town with many surf shops along the main road that runs parallel to the ocean. Rice fields and lots of tiny houses, some even where they sleep upstairs and just open up their little cafe or restaurant downstairs it seemed like whenever they felt like it. Not many people spoke English very well, if at all; so we had to hope the food menu had photos to point at.

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The wave ‘Shiba point’ is actually a beach break between two man made rock and concrete piers or like a groyne. It was super small the whole time I was there so only saw it breaking at a max of 2ft but did have some nice, clean and fun conditions and could definitely see the potential although I’m sure to make the Olympics more exciting a wave pool may be better in a country like Japan unless we are lucky enough to get a typhoon. Unfortunately I got knocked in the quarter finals against a local Japanese girl who went on to the final. I had another amazing time here because of the great combo of weather, food, heated toilet seats and how friendly, helpful, nice and gracious the Japanese really are. The nicest people I’ve ever come across on my travels, even their little ‘thank you and goodbye’ nods and bowing rubbed off on me, finding myself doing the exact same thing when I was getting off the plane back home! Arigato Japan!

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Mexico is another favorite destination of mine on the World surf league (WSL) World qualifying series (QS). Los Cabos to Americans is a bit like what Bali is to Aussies and kiwis so this area has become very Americanized but you can still venture out into local markets and restaurants.

It’s got the full tourist town in the ‘new town’ of San josé and all the tourist attractions from the likes of big game fishing, diving or cruising out to Lovers beach in the sea of Cortez. A few of us girls always get a place right on the beach within a hundred metres walking distance to the contest site of Zippers beach. A small little fast breaking right hander across rocks close to the beach. A wave a quite like on my backhand that has scored me a couple of 5th places previously. Unfortunately this time I missed out by less than a point with slow, bumpy and inconsistent waves losing to two previous event winners.

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Out of the comp, I now had time to explore a little more. Finding an amazing Oasis in the middle of the desert an hour inland in the middle of nowhere. Perfect temperature but by the time you got back to the car you were more than ready for another swim. We also managed to get out to the East cape a couple of times to surf breaks like shipwrecks and five palms. There’s not a lot out there other than a slew of breaks to choose from. Lots of Americans driving around in their 4wds or buggy’s and living the dream of surfing in paradise everyday, eating guacamole with a corona or two. From cheap tacos down the road to some super healthy fine dining restaurants, the most lush golf courses you’ll ever see and surf for every ability, it’s no wonder Americans keep coming back here. I will too! I think I need a years break from guacamole though! 😉 Once again Mexico you pulled through with the good, Gracias!

My next event is 28th – 30th July at Oceanside beach, California. Until then I’ll be surfing and training as much as I can working off this little burrito belly 😉

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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Another year, another Paige.

 

If you missed out on my last blog, late last year, it was basically explaining how I tried and went so hard, came so close but again came heartbreakingly close to one of my main goals to re-qualify for the WSL Women’s World Tour.

Now this year I guess I have a slightly different perspective and approach. The saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it” comes to mind. Well actually, the last two years of missing out by only a couple of spots has made me think that it might actually be broken. Last year I surf and trained so much that I even had a crying breakdown from over training.

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Late last year and this year may of been good for me in retrospect. At the time, I was getting a bit worried about my home town Taranaki not having a summer, wind, rain and brain freeze makes it hard to get motivated every single day so I admit it, I didn’t surf anywhere near as much and I was aware of my training breakdown this time last year so didn’t train as much either. Like any athlete, you get a bit worried about not doing enough or doing too much and sometimes find it hard to find that perfect balance of hard work and play. I definitely was a bit worried there for awhile about not doing enough but then in the surfs that I did have, I felt really good, if not surfing the best I’d felt in awhile! Almost like I had hit a ‘refresh’ and ‘froth’ button. I surprised myself.

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I had a few MtWoodgee surfboards stashed away in my boardroom at home that are over two years old. I needed to take some back to the MtWoodgee factory on the Gold Coast so started sorting through them. I found a 5’5 round tail that I decided to try out again for something different to my standard boards and for “fun”. Guess what? I planned to give it back then I rode it again and it’s become one of my favourite boards once again! It’s so dinged up, has a couple of cracks that I need to fix but I rode it in my first warm-up 1000 event at Burleigh Heads in January and the spark it had felt like a brand new board! Helping me get all the way to a third place finish. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks!

I’ve even started getting into yoga over here in Kingscliff, NSW where I base myself with fellow competitor and good friend Codie Klein. I’ve always liked stretching by myself because I can do it when and where I want and for a short time but going to these yoga classes has been a good physical and mental challenge for me. To keep my attention span for a whole hour focusing on my breathe was quite a struggle and almost frustrating at the start but now I’m almost craving that time, it’s still physically and mentally challenging but I have also been enjoying being in that moment for a whole hour not thinking or worrying about anything else. Don’t worry I’m not going to get all spiritual on you and I’ll tell you the truth that somehow I felt tighter and more sore after yoga rather than the common mindset of being more flexible and loose! Haha go figure! Either way, if I like something, I’m going to do it!

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As I write this, there’s one more week to go until my first big event of the year, a 6000 in NewCastle, Australia. I’m currently having a rest day from being surfed out, done a bit of coaching and even got to try the Australian High Performance Centre skate ramps to practice airs which was pretty cool since the ‘Aussies’ have never allowed this little kiwi girl to go on it before. They’re a little bit competitive!

I’m feeling relaxed, confident, a few nerves and excitement to start this new Paige ball rolling and start racking up points and results for 2017. Best of luck to all the other kiwis too, come on! We’ve got this!

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A wrap (or crumble) for 2016

 

Around about this time last year, I remember sitting in almost the same spot at home, writing along the lines of how a good friend had just given me a kick up the bum, re-routed my brain into only positivity, re-aligned my motivation into all the right places of health, fitness and of course surfing.

It was the year where I did some of my hardest and most frequent training, not only pre season but managed to keep a lot of it up during the year, especially when I made a bit of a base in America. When you train hard, become your fittest, healthiest self it’s hard not to have high expectations of doing well, with or without the rose-tinted glasses on every thing. Sitting here now looking back at it all I guess you could almost compare my year to a one year relationship or fling. I fell in love or lust at the start, we rode through the lows and highs together in the middle before eventually coming to a pretty devastating divorce. As I write this, I’m still only just getting over the ugly break up and sewing my heart back together with that some how, still, pretty positive brain of mine.

I even find the double-edged sword theory a positive for me because looking back on this year result wise I can blame myself and admit I made too many silly mistakes for someone who has been doing this for years now (I’m still not calling myself a veteran yet!). Yes the mistakes suck and many of them this year did hurt like a stab wound, the sword even got twisted a few too many times.

I came so close to that top six qualification spots that I even had two chances with two minimal points at two 3000 events compared to the big 6000 events. Costa Rica I had a really good chance against previously World Champion runner up Silvana Lima, only needing a six which I know I can get in my sleep but ended up falling off.

Then there was Japan, which can I just quickly say, why does New Zealand not have heated toilet seats like Japan? Life changing in thee winter, I’m telling ya. This was my first time to Japan, could you tell?

Anyway unfortunately I had a pretty hard time at the contest there. I’m going to try and explain the best I can because even if you’re a surfer it can get a little confusing. The heat started, no one had priority and everyone caught a wave then started paddling back out the back to get priority. Red got out the back first so she had first priority. So I knew I couldn’t catch a wave if red wanted it but there was a wave coming I wanted and the only other two people out there was myself in white and another competitor in blue. When we all caught our first wave, I knew that I caught a wave before Blue and I also knew we had got out the back at a very similar time so in the WSL rule book it says if it’s that close between the surfers back to the take off spot then it automatically goes to the person who caught the first wave; which makes sense, just like a normal fair line system, or like a game of pass the parcel, the parcel always goes to the same person before you and the same person after you. So, I wanted this wave, red let it go, I then looked into the priority boards as I started paddling for it and the boards had first priority red and then three black crosses in a row. Three crosses in a row means the priority judge hadn’t given the other three colours/competitors a priority yet, so it becomes kind of like a free-for-all for us three surfers minus red. Red didn’t want the wave. Yellow was no where in the picture still paddling out.

Just myself and Blue, free for all, I was on the inside closest to the white water so took off; next thing Blue drops in on me, does a cut back only to see me, freak out and pull off straight away.

I kept surfing, a bit rattled, started paddling back out thinking to myself “what the hell was blue thinking?!” only to hear the commentator say “interference white on blue”. I then thought to myself “what? Oh nah he’s got it wrong, Japanese read backwards” but he kept saying it that way. I surfed until two minutes to go hoping they still had it wrong but when blue then dropped in on me again and it was no longer possible to pass the other girls with one wave disqualified, I came in early, ran up the beach and straight in to make a formal complaint of how the priority judge had stuffed up.

Some of my words were “this could be career ending”. From a contest that could of put me into a qualifying position instead it hit me hard. Get me that sword again! I don’t think myself or my parents really had a proper conversation with each other for a good 24 hours because we were all such stunned mullets of what had just happened.

Then there’s that other side of the sword. The “Positive Paige” side. I really like this side! Of course I’ve learnt a lot from my mistakes this year which I can only take onboard (pun intended) and make sure I don’t do them next year. Also the last two years I have come so close to qualifying with too many mistakes so if I can cut even half of those mistakes out next year then I think I have a really good chance. I’ve had a couple of weeks of down time and heartbroken-ness but now I’m right back into it, with my mind set on 2017 qualification and the 2020 Olympics in the near future and starting to fall in love all over again, except like a divorcee; thicker skin, a stronger heart and a lot less money.