Blog

Japan – ISA World Surfing Games

IMG_7915

Woah what a week!
I’m not sure where to start. The ISA (International surfing association) World Games come around once a year and are held in a different country every year as over 42 countries compete at it so they try to share the love and the amount of travel between all the countries. This year it was in Japan, I think mainly because the ISA were the main influencers on getting surfing into the Tokyo2020 Olympic Games so they wanted to show the locals a little bit of what they can expect.

I have been to previous ISA World Games over the years including junior ones where my best result was 4th in U18girls. My next best result was I think several years ago in Peru where I got second, first place taken from in the last minute of the final by former WSL (World surf league) World Champion Chelsea Hedges (nee Georgeson).
After not competing at them for a couple of years I decided I wanted to represent New Zealand and try to get a gold medal! Also because ISA got surfing into the Olympics, I wanted to support their contest and get back in the swing of their contest as it will be compulsory to do them for the next two years if I want to try and get to the Tokyo2020 Olympics.

IMG_5456
Hanging out with 5 x Olympian Barbara Kendall! ❤

No offence at all to some of the other team members that went but when the original team was picked, it was one of the best NZ named teams I had seen in many years but unfortunately due to lack of funding and a few other commitments by others they had to pull out last minute. The lack of funding and commitment by people made me want to pull out too, I was just disappointed I guess. In saying that, I was still impressed with how well the team that came did and team NZ improved their position from last year from 14th to 9th. Pretty good for a small country out of 42.

With minimal funds it meant that team NZ had to try and do it as cheap as possible. We left it up to Surfing NZ and a travel agent to organize all our transfers and Accom etc with them telling us there would be free shuttles to and from the contest site everyday. Much to our surprise, there was no transport at all. Billy Stairmand and I were the oldest in the team so naturally we slipped into a management, captain, coach, Mum & Dad role for the rest of the team. Our only option was to rent a van worth over $1600 just for one week. They are really strict in Japan with rental cars and you need to have a international lisence otherwise they won’t rent you a car. Luckily I had got mine a few weeks before and was the only one on the team with one. Without me they would of been stuffed! So add that to the list of hats I wore this past week as I became the sole driver too.

We started the week with the opening ceremony and a parade where all 42 nations captains and a flag bearer go up on stage to pour sand into a clear box taken from their home beaches, a pretty cool ceremony where all the countries are having fun and getting along with each other. Over the years it’s become a well known thing that when it’s New Zealand’s turn to get up on stage our whole team race up, the guys whip off their shirts and we all perform the haka. Everyone loves it, especially the girls haha!

e228cfa8-b421-4616-b323-16f18c439b14
Men L-R: Levi Stewart, Zen Wallis, Billy Stairmand Women L-R: Raiha Ensor, Paige Hareb, Elin Tawharu

The contest started off well, with some big tricky conditions but the kiwis managed it well. It’s such a great week and different vibe compared to all the competitions I do because you’re there as a team supporting each other as well as surfing individually. It’s almost more pressure because you just want to do really well for your team and country and not let them down. The six of us (now that equality is a big thing in surfing – three men and three ladies) got along really well and had a great team vibe and attitude the whole week no matter what was thrown at us, I was very proud of the whole team, the way they surfed and the way they represented NZ in and out of the water.

IMG_8060
Sally Fitzgibbons (aus) and I, long time friends and competitors

It got down to the final few days and I was the last one standing for team NZ. Super happy but at the same time felt a bit of weight on my shoulders to lead the team to a good overall ranking. The whole event I felt like I was building nicely and surfing better and better each heat leading up towards the final. In the semi final, I even won it beating eventual event winner Sally Fitzgibbons, Long time friend and a bloody Aussie! 😉 So I had a whole lot of confidence going into the final but unfortunately Sally absolutely blitzed the final, leaving the rest of us needing extra big scores. Obviously as a competitor you always want to win and I was going for gold but if anyone had said you’ll get second this week, I would of taken it any day if the week! Super happy and big thanks to the rest of the team for all your positive vibes and amazing support! To my sponsors for getting me there and believing in me, Thankyou!!

IMG_8046

IMG_8048
1st Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 2nd Paige Hareb (NZL), 3rd Biana Buitentag (ZAF), 4th Summer Maecedo (USA)

 

Kelly’s pool

Kelly’s (Slater) wave pool

I knew a couple of months before the WSL Founder’s cup of surfing that I would be in the World team and heading to Lemoore to compete at the famous ‘Surf Ranch’ that the even more famous Kelly Slater had created. Even after driving 3hours inland and practicing there for four days before the event, it still never really sunk in that a dream had come true and I was there doing it. 

I had watched loads of footage from other lucky surfers that  had been there before me, it looked amazing but I made sure I kept my expectations low so I wouldn’t get disappointed. With just the buffet five star wedding style food every day, my expectations of the place had been well exceeded. 

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 10.12.52 PM

Practice days two,three and four got busier and busier and thats when I truely appreciated my very first day there when it was just me and one other girl, Taina Hinkel (Brasil). Especially when Taina had jetlag and had a nap, so I had the whole pool and ranch to myself! With a wave breaking every 3 minutes and 50 seconds and the wave being about a 50 second ride, it was no wonder my legs felt like jelly very quickly. My body wanted to stop but I didn’t. I couldn’t. I knew that this was a chance in a lifetime and that some people will pay between 10k-50k for one day so I kept surfing left, right, left, right.

Founders Cup 2018

Almost my best and favourite memory about the pool is actually the guy on the jetski. Raimana from Tahiti. You can hear him yelling in some of my first practice videos I’ve uploaded on my social media (instsgram: @paigehareb facebook: /paige.hareb twitter: @paigehareb) “now, now, now. Hit it! Go, go, go”. His yelling may put some people off but he was the best help I could of ever asked for. He works there most of the year so he sees everyone surf it and would of gone up and down that pool on the jetski closer to 1000 times than 100. You probably wouldn’t believe it after my 13ish second backhand barrel but I couldn’t backside barrel that well. Raimana helped me a lot with that and sounded a long the lines of (speak in Tahitian accent) “Hey babe, look you do this and this and this OK?” He would constantly and patiently repeat then finish with a fun, big fat “LOVE YOU” before I caught my next wave. To have someone that knowledgable and positive was priceless! Thankyou Raimana! Love you!!! 🙂

Then we got to competition day. My whole plan was to get two good scores in the first round so all the pressure could be taken off. The plan worked! I got a couple of high seven point rides and going into round two my next goal was to improve on my score. The plan worked again! This was when I got my best right of the contest consisting of that 13 second backhand barrel gaining me a 8.33 ride. What a feeling! Round three none of us got high scores apart from our World team captain Jordy Smith (ZAF) and Kanoa Igarashi (JPN). Halfway through the round we thought we weren’t going to make the top 3 teams but somehow ended up third equal with Team Australia. This meant we had to have a ‘surf off’ to see who would go through to the final round. The surf off was different with only one male and female surfing from each team and only one wave each. Talk about pressure! Team World’s captain, Jordy decided we would go first and get scores under our belt whether it was a 9 or a 4 he figured they would have something to chase.

IMG_5728

With the way the pool and the wave works, a left breaks down the pool one way then about four minutes later a right breaks back down the pool the other way. So this day they always had it starting with the left first. Jordy wanted to surf right so that meant I had to surf left, which also meant I was the very first surfer out of all four surfers in the surf off. Pressure! I locked in another seven point ride for Jordy to back it up with another nine something. Next up was Team Australia’s Tyler Wright and Matt “Wilko” Wilkinson to try and beat our scores. Wilko was up first on the left, starting strong but fell before halfway and only ended up getting a four point ride. This meant that even if Tyler got a 10 point ride, Team Australia still couldn’t take down Team World. Woohoo! In the finals baby!

IMG_5738

We really felt like we were the underdogs all event especially up against Team Australia with the most World Champions and World Titles in one team. So just making the final against Team Brasil and USA was a bonus. For me it was all a bit of a blur, the only two times I fell was in the final and even though I still managed a seven something, I was still feeling very bummed that I had let the team down. The three teams carried on going through their surfers, including USA’s John John Florence who ended up falling too (which made me feel a bit better haha).

You couldn’t of scripted the contest any better. It came down to the last wave and surfer who was none other than the man himself, Kelly Slater. If he got more than a seven Team World would win but if he got more than a 9.27 then team World would end up third and Team Brasil and USA would have a surf off. Before Kelly started surfing the wave, team mate Bianaca Buitendag (ZAF) and I couldn’t stop looking at each other and giggling in complete shock and asking each other “how did we get here? Is team World going to win right now?! Are we going to win?!”

c01279ef-1c46-4e92-8575-890c70b96af9
L-R Michel Bourez (Tahiti), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Jordy Smith – Team World captain (ZAF), Bianaca Buitentag (ZAF), Paige Hareb (NZL)

Kelly surfed the wave to perfection right down to coming out of the last barrel section at the end but instead of just doing a safe turn (which we all thought he would of got more than 9.27 if he did) he tried to do some fly away air and didn’t land causing him to get a high eight and therefore making Team World win the first ever WSL Founder’s Cup! Unbelievable! The whole week was is still unbelievable in my eyes. With lots of positive comments from competitors and even from Kelly saying how well I did, I honestly don’t know what to say but I can’t wait to head back there again for the WCT event in September.

IMG_5719

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.

ph03

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!

AF6I8883

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!

ph03 2

ph02

Above two photos taken by: Trent Callaghan

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

Paige – Laid bare (Magazine article)

FullSizeRender 30
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!
IMG_2019
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’

FullSizeRender

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.

img_0579

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!

2017-07-09 10.54.34

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.

FullSizeRender 29

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!

FullSizeRender 21

 

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.

img_0690

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!

FullSizeRender 28

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.

FullSizeRender 21

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!

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 5.17.15 AM

California

IMG_1191

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)

FullSizeRender

Lakey Peak

2017-06-29-13-03-42.png

 

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.

2017-06-26-20-23-20.png

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.

 

2017-06-26 17.57.14

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.

2017-06-26 20.20.45

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.

2017-06-30 07.12.49

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!

2017-07-09 10.54.34

Arigato & Gracias; Japan & Mexico

FullSizeRender 15

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.

IMG_0269

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.

IMG_0309

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!

IMG_0302

~~~~

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.

FullSizeRender 13

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!
FullSizeRender 5
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. 
FullSizeRender 8FullSizeRender 7
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! 
FullSizeRender 9
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!
FullSizeRender 2