Back on the wagon –  back in the game….14591819_1821127518127963_6860241764202959869_n

Slap me across the face with a wet fish right about now…. I started trying to write this back in August, have tried to finish it on numerous occasions but for lack of a better reason you’re getting it lock stock and barrel now.

In fact, there may just be some keyboard diarrhoea ready to explode onto the inter web in the near future.

I’ve finally made it home, FINALLY managed to unpack and feel like at least part of my life has some kind of order and structure.  It’s the small things like being able to open up your draws and find what you’re looking for at a glance rather than having to explode a bag and sift through the destruction on the floor that means you’ve actually made it home.

When I started writing this back in August, the second half of my season was on the verge of not happening. A lot was up in the air and I was on the verge of heading south in search of white gold and the lure of my own bed. The reports coming out of the Southern Alps were that the snow was all-time.

And when it’s on – it’s on….

With not much going on in the first half of the summer, it felt like it had been a good long while since I’d had some hard and fast racing on the water.
From the middle of the Pacific I made the call to fly east rather than west.
The next two and a half months were full to the brim, full-noise action and working out how many cans of nitrous had in the reserve tail at the ready to unleash (thankfully there were plenty!).
When I say I was close to not coming back, I’m not joking.
Every time you make a decision to do one thing, there is always the opportunity cost of what you’re not doing. But for some reason, I had a sense of unfinished business; that I needed to go and finish out the season and see where things were at.
 
It was a bit of a gamble, but knew that I was carrying some serious form from the first half of the year. If you’re not going to back yourself, why should you expect anyone else too?
It’s the ability to continually evaluate a situation and remain objective that allows decisions to be made on fact rather than emotion.
With a view to taking each weekend and each event as it came, I landed back on the West Coast at the ready to let the high speed roller coaster of racing, travel, more racing and more travel unleash.

From LA to Huntington, to Hood River, Oregon to LA, California to Japan back to LA, up to San Francisco, down to LA, back into the depths of the Orange Curtain and San Diego it was a roller coaster of planes, airports, some toxic chemical burns, never ending logistics, fun, games and plenty of banter for good measure….I’m finally coming up for air after the marathon of the past three months.

With pace in my favour and fitness on my side, a re-found willingness to gamble the odd risk that I haven’t had for a while, the confidence to change up equipment and roll with the consequences, and ‘that’ moment in surf race final of the Pacific Paddle Games when I decided I loved being back in the depths of the pain cave so much that I went for another lap giving away the win….the overall win ……and a decent amount of lunch money in the process, it’s fair to say – I was definitely ‘back in the game’.

Them’s the breaks.

With the willingness to take risks, the heart to charge and a re-found love to compete that has come back stronger than ever, these are the highs and lows that make you fall in love with sport all over again.

Heck I even busted out a couple of cross-country races in San Diego for shits and giggles and seriously surprised myself in the process (not to mention an off-the-couch 110+ miles on the roadie in Oregon on whim…).

Now the bags have been packed, unpacked, packed, unpacked, packed, repacked and finally Unpacked for the year, with only the ‘weekender’ version in the proximity of easy access.

There’s the familiarity of the landscape of home and the security and peacefulness of the mountains that I crave at this time of year.

The bikes have been dusted off and the puffer jacket is in full effect.Even though it is spring, there’s at least a weekly dusting of show half way down the hills and a climate where the changeability of the weather is ever-present in the decisions you make daily on what you are doing and how you are going to do it.

The yoga mat has been unrolled and my annual pilgrimage back to the warmth of the yoga studio has been embraced as much as the awkward positions that my body loves to hate at this time of year have become the norm.

The reconnection with old mates to fix the problems of the world over coffee, wine or a long ride through nature’s playground.

The cry of the mind and the body to simply go and play rings true and louder than ever – for these are the months that are the ‘jackpot’ for the hard yards and investment of energy and time away when you ply your trade from afar.

Following every period of expansion there is the need of the balancing period of contraction.

For me, that is home and it’s the contrasting environment of the mountains.

It’s a world away from the madness of the year. It’s a chance to reflect, recharge, refocus and rebuild the energy required to rise to the challenges of the months ahead.

Thanks for the support, it’s been a roller coaster of a few months – the extent of which most will never know.

I know I’m here for the right reasons and I’m stronger, faster, fitter and hungrier for more than ever before.

Here’s to the next chapter.

AWARDS SEASON is back and in full force. Hosted by SUP Magazine  the annual SUP Awards are the pinnacle celebration of performances, personalities, expeditions and more.

In 2016 I’m once again nominated for the Female of the Year Award –  one that I have been a top 3 finalist in for the past four years and had the privilege of winning in 2013.

You can throw me your vote here   …….and have a chuckle at what SUP Magazine thinks I’m best known for below:

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It’s been an epic year to date:

Some of 2016’s highlights so far include:

  • 6x consecutive NZ Champion
  • 6x consecutive King of the Harbour Ocean Race Champion (NZ)
  • 4x consecutive Carolina Cup Champion
  • Ghost Rider Downwinder – 1st
  • Maui 2 Molokai – Stock Champion
  • Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships – Runner Up
  • JM Quiksilver Survivor – 3rd

While it may appear skinny on the event front comparative to other years, 2016 has been about preparing for key events and being consistent across every discipline from ocean racing to flat water, surf racing to downwind.

With my competition schedule for 2016 loaded into the second half of the year, the first two quarters have been about laying the all important preparatory foundations to build upon from now until December as well as prepare for some mildly outrageous off season pursuits (stay tuned!).  Half way in it’s going well, the fitness base is there and the speed is starting to build.

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A mixture of public voting and special awards, it’s a celebration of the stand up paddling lifestyle and recognition of those individuals that epitomise the sport and raise the bar.

VotingVoting closes 31 August – so get clicking now!

To catch a glimpse of some of the action from the SUP Awards in years gone by – check out these gems from years gone by.

World of Adventure Sports – Accidental Forks in the Road/Faroe Islands

PREMIERES TONIGHT

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It was a series of accidental forks in the road that led me to landing on the remote archipelago of the Faroe Islands in the middle of the North Atlantic for the latest episode of World of Adventure Sports.

Like many good adventures I had little to no idea of what I was going to be in for.

Leaving Queenstown airport on a June afternoon in a snow storm lugging an inflatable paddle board, hiking gear and a smattering of cold weather kit I embarked on a 40+ hour flying marathon to make it to the Faroes.cliff

First inhabited by Irish Monks a thousand years ago, it’s harsh landscape has shaped it’s people and it’s cultures. A culture of survival amongst the elements in order to stay alive and to provide.

Towering fjords, jagged sea cliffs and cascading waterfalls permeate the landscape in every direction. Faroese sheep skip about the steep hills in the land where folklore say that ‘you only fall once’.

The relationship between its people and it’s landscape is one of functionality. The ocean being a body that takes as much as it gives highlighted by the many men whose lives are lost at sea every year in pursuit of reaping the bounty of the ocean in order to provide.

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As the peaks of the mountains emerge through the ever present clouds that shroud the islands, it’s a landscape that beckons you to explore. Such has been the functional existence of this place that hiking and recreating are only just starting to be discovered as a way of bringing tourism to these forgotten lands of the North Sea.

We went in pursuit to explore, what we discovered was a raw bounty of recreation waiting be hiked, paddled and rappelled that had us itching to come back for more.

 

 

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Zero swell – but the Huntington shorey will always claim a few victims

The back half of summer is upon us which means one thing – surf racing!

Love it or hate it, it’s a mix of surf skills, athleticism and who has the fitness to pull off the sprint for the cans and the crazy wave manoeuvres when you’re legs at are their most fried.

It’s been a while since I got to bust it out around the cans but I love it.

There’s always something about the leveller of the ocean to keep it interesting and the importance of maintaining a ‘never-say-die’ attitude that is required no matter if you’re in front or trying to come from behind  (not to mention entertaining).

I’d heard a whisper that something might be going down this month.

Sure enough, the leaks turned into a three week notice that Quiksilver and Jamie Mitchell were resurrecting his ‘Survivor’ race format, this time at Huntington Beach.

Having had my year somewhat turned upside down in May and June and all planning thrown out the window , I was sitting on the fence as to what I would do after Molokai 2 Oahu.

With a 50:50 decision hanging over me – it was either head home to make the most of the all time snow conditions or do a 180 and go back to the mainland US for the back half of the summer (and before you sarcastically mutter under your breath “shit life” – yep, it’s #firstworldproblems but you create your own path and it’s these times that I like to have a few skill and tricks up my sleeve in the athletic department to deploy regardless of the situation, season, country or environment).

So less than a week ago (most probably while sitting in the water waiting for a wave while watching another tropical sunset over the Pacific) I flipped the proverbial coin and bet on the shorter flight back to the West Coast and the golden sands of California.

Coming off a month of riding the downwind sleds in Hawaii to jumping back on a 12’6 race board has been just what the Dr ordered this week, but realistically I’m probably well under gunned in comparison to the Orange County crew who almost exclusively only hit beach sessions in training.

But as they say a change is as good as a holiday and man it’s been fun to jump back on a shorter board that accelerates, turns, surfs. I have a whole new level of appreciation to be back riding something that is nimble and quick (if only a downwind board had the attributes of what I have spent 6 years putting into my 12’6 boards!).

It’s been a good refresh to get back into the groove of the surf zone while getting the mind and body tuned back into the much sharper sessions that are on the menu for the next couple of months as we head into the business end of the season.

Tomorrow will be a great chance to see where everything is at regardless of the outcome (queue Huntington Shorey below for reference).

With a format that rewards those that finish at the front of each heat (multiple 1x mile heats in and out of the surf zone held over 45 minutes) there’s an incentive to get after it right from the gun.

Holding maximum efforts repeatedly for 45 mins with minimal recoveries will no doubt start to wear people down after the first couple of rounds and I am sure that endurance will play a critical factor at some point (likely sooner rather than later!).

And for those of you that are unawares, Huntington shore pound likes to eat boards and people for breakfast lunch and dinner. With a pretty much flat swell forecast for Huntington tomorrow, navigating the shore pound will be critical.

After Huntington it’s goodbye to Ca for a couple of weeks as I do a nippy turn around to fly out to Portland on Monday morning to hit Hood River for the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge the following week with some other exciting adventures on the radar for the following week.

My bike kit and trail shoes are packed so regardless of if the wind turns up or not, you’ll find me making the most of the what the Gorge is famous for – REAL coffee, CRAFT beer, JUICY peaches, EPIC trails and Post Canyon!

Bring it on.