Monday, 19 January 2015

Back to Real Life...

'Settling down'. By that I mean having our stuff in one place for more than a month! I thought I'd write about how it is to be back at work again after having 14 months following my dreams, it has to be kind of a let down right? Funnily enough, I was initially concerned that I wouldn't want to come back after traveling, and that coming back to work would be terrible, I'd want to leave the UK and find a job somewhere hot. But actually, from about half way through my time off and onwards, I came to the realisation that home, friends, family, windsurfing and surfing in Devon and Cornwall, Crossfit Plymouth and my career, is a pretty nice way of life, and there aren't many other places (none in fact that we would definitely want to move to right now) that have a better balance for us, than what we have here.

People asked if I was looking forward to returning to work, and actually, strangely I was. Not for the early mornings-I'm terrible at getting up, and most definitely not for the leave! But for the mental challenge, variety, rewards and relationships work can bring, the achievement of developing my career, and the stability of having a steady income as living on a tight budget like we had to all the time gets tiring... but also what I think you take for-granted if you don't travel a lot, is the stability and routine you get from being in one place and having a house to live in!

My 14 month sabbatical has been amazing, I am so lucky to see the places I have been, met the people I have met, compete on a World Tour in the sport I love the most, had the money and time to do this and been secure in my job to come back to it. If windsurfing was a bigger sport, I think I would love to do it full time for a while, and push my level to see how far I could get, (but perhaps I wouldn't be so near the top?!) or perhaps if I had different circumstances or choices with my career I would too, but at the moment I count myself lucky I was able to do what I did at all, and I am enjoying the challenge work brings me!

Would I do it full time? I think not in my current situation, firstly it isn't sustainable at the level I am currently, so I would have to work a lot on the side in probably jobs I wouldn't appreciate, or rather that I have already spent much time doing outside of my professional role, but if I could get the funding to give it a go I would love the challenge to become a full time pro and see how good I could get. Ideally, working flexibly in a professional role is probably the ideal goal, like Stef does.

Actually, windsurfing on the side of working full time, although almighty frustrating, especially in the UK, makes those sessions that are good like gold dust and you are on top of the World when you score one. Getting something you can't have all the time makes it better, and I may loose the love a little if I windsurfed full time for years to come. (I am going to regret this when there isn't any wind for months at home!). My ideal balance would be to work full time but have more than 5 weeks leave per year, to train hard and still compete. I loved the challenge of competing and sailing against like-minded girls, and I think I won't be able to continue this at the level I was with my current leave. I would also like to add that the grass isn't always greener, (though it does take some exploring to realise this!), and to appreciate and make the most of everything you have!

So what are my goals this year? To continue to train as hard as I can in windsurf, surf and Crossfit around work (I almost never miss a forecast!); continue apnea training for breath holds, free-diving in the Summer months to help water confidence; start gymnastic training for my jumping; improve my big wave sailing, by exploring the UK's outer reefs hopefully; and lastly, use every bit of leave I can to travel to the World's best wave spots to train and compete where possible! All this is possible with the help of my sponsors: NoLimitz masts, PuravidaBoardriders, K4 fins, Simmer style and C-Skins wetsuits-thank you all so much!

Wow...I am going to be busy!

I haven't got any shots of my recent sessions, mainly because they were in the dark, or it was raining, or we had a 15 minute cliff walk with gear so didn't fancy carrying a camera too! It should get easier to get pics as the light gets better and we have more time! Here are some pictures from a trip to Tintagel late last year with our families. Some great spearfishing territory to explore next Summer I think!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Finishing the year with 7th overall in the World Tour

I am now home from Maui, what an amazing place! And an unexpected trip there too as we only booked a few weeks before in Sylt once the PWA event had been confirmed. I didn't think I would be going back there for a long time, as we had been planning on going to Chile to finish the year, but this will have to wait until I have saved more pennies! Maui as always was incredible and I was so happy to meet all the AWT girls and locals who I hadn't met before. Living in a house of 6 girls (plus lucky-or unlucky?! Stef) was really fun and there were a few celebratory parties-one for Thomas Travesa who won the World title this year and also for the closing ceremony for the PWA and AWT.

Here are a couple more pictures from the Aloha Classic from John Carter, such a blue face to carve up on that wave!

So I am pretty happy to say I am 7th in the World this year! My goal was to be top ten, so I am happy I have achieved this. I didn't get my best result in Maui, but I think from competition you have always gained something, no matter where you come you learn about things you can improve. For Maui, I need a lot more time on cross-off starboard tack, I haven't spent very long riding there at all. I have learnt where I need to improve my riding skills, mostly in my top turn and aerials and also that it is most important to just have fun on the water-which I did! It's also a good lesson to learn that competition sailing (especially for me) is so different to my normal style of go for more, normally crash more. The first heats at Ho'okipa were on a bigger day so it forced me to be more controlled and safer in my riding, to the detriment of my style a little. I need to spend a fair amount of time making my normal style more consistent so that I know I can make it 95% of the time and then I will start to do better!

I would love to keep competing and I think with more training, I could do better again next year, but I go back to full time work in January and also I am lucky enough to be getting married next June! So I am not sure how many PWA competitions I can do next year...we will see! For now though, I am going to focus on windsurfing and surfing as much as I can in Cornwall until Christmas, keep training in Crossfit, swimming and breath holds, and see where this gets me! I would love to do some more big wave surfing and windsurfing, so we will see what the UK Winter brings!

Here are some other pictures we took, from a snorkel boat trip:

From the road to Hana and round the back of the volcano:
From Kanaha, windsurfing on my new favorite board, my custom 63l! These are from the GoPro with the K4 harness mount:
At the PWA closing ceremony we were lucky enough to see the premiere of the RedBull Storm Chase movie. It was amazing! So inspiring and absolutely crazy too! It reinforced my love of the UK and cold water windsurfing too, as Steffi Wahl said-my heart beats for Europe! I am hoping for some good conditions this Winter, I hope Cornwall delivers!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

PWA Maui-The Aloha Classic!

I have been here in Maui for about two weeks now, and we have had pretty amazing conditions for the last stop of the World Tour! I had about a week before the event to practise at Ho'okipa, with small waves mostly, a good warm-up for cross-off starboard tack, something I don't get to practise all that often. I will let the pictures do the talking, as there are loads! Here are some shots from the very Hawaiian, amazing opening ceremony, all from talented photographers: Fishbowl diaries, John Carter from the PWA and of course local Jimmie Hepp. Thanks so much for all the pictures!

Everyone was blessed in the circle with a good sprinkling of I guess seawater from a nice palm leaf, very refreshing in the hot sun!
Contemplating my heat plan!!

So into the heats! A nice swell came for the start of the PWA heats, in which they ran the men on the first day, something I was slightly glad of, not because of the size of the waves, but more the flukey wind that day which meant even the best guys were making it look hard to get out! The second day still had some nice logo to mast sets coming through, some even bigger, fantastic conditions for the competition! The wind was still really light and I narrowly escaped the rocks twice during launching, with some good swimming and maybe a little help from the jet ski guys too-my gear savers!!

Once out though, I loved it!

So in summary, heat 1 in the single was against Maria Andres, Iballa Moreno and Jessica Crisp. I played it safe, perhaps too much so, getting some nice waves but nothing too radical and perhaps only one bigger set wave, making sure I didn't end up on the inside with a set coming. I didn't pass through this heat unfortunately, with Jessica and Iballa going through. In the double, I had Daida, Sarah Quita Offringa and local ripper Ingrid Larouche. I made a mistake on my first wave costing me a lot of time swimming, then got a few waves afterwards but I think I panicked with the time left and didn't wait long enough to get back up wind and catch a good set wave! I also realised only yesterday that my last wave was outside the heat time, so didn't count at all-I definitely need a heat timer watch rather than a stopwatch!! Anyway, it was all a learning curve and there were so many talented girls here ripping and spending a lot of tme at Ho'okipa that I didn't really expect to do that well. I am privileged that I entered, was able to sail with only 3 other girls on the water and have learnt what I need to improve here (powerful top turns especially!). Huge congratulations to Iballa Moreno for winning the single elimination proving she is a master of both tacks! The double is yet to finish so we will see if she can hold onto the win against local Fiona Wylde!

The men here were amazing to watch and such an inspiration. The single final with Thomas, Victor, Marcillo and Morgan was unbelievable! The double final is yet to come! It was also great to meet all the AWT and PWA girls here which hadn't made it to Europe. There are a lot of talented windsurf girls, Junko and Sarah Hauser to name a couple, so it was great to meet them and share a tea party with them organised by the one and only Sam Bittner! Thanks!

In between windsurfing, we have been seeing the amazing scenery, waterfalls and re-visiting where Stef and I got engaged back in March, Haleakala volcano! LOVE MAUI!
Lastly, here are a few shots from the competition in Tiree from Richard Whitton, another talented photographer! Thank you!
So the competition is over for me and I can enjoy my last week here. For the lucky few left in, the double may finish tomorrow so check out pwaworldtour.com to see the live heats, it will be epic!