3G3B6993Two days, 37 miles of racing. It sounds a lot doesn’t it?

Add deep blue Hawaiian waters, warmth and 20 knots of trade winds blowing from behind.

Yes, it’s officially downwind season in Hawaii, the trade winds are blowing and one huge month of downwind racing kicked off with the M2Molokai Challenge this past weekend.

Two days of racing, one channel crossing and one of the all time classic downwind runs in Hawaii.

July normally sees one crossing of the Pailolo Channel that runs between the west side of Maui and the east side of Molokai. It’s known as the best downwind run in the Hawaiian chain and this month we get two cracks at this all time classic crossing.

Channel crossings are synonymous with all paddle sports in the Pacific. From Tahiti to Hawaii, people have been crossing oceans and channels harnessing the power of the trades and riding their swells to get from one place to another.

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Zane Schweitzer foils the Pailolo Channel skimming over the tops of the swells with paddlers in the background

Navigation on these channel crossings is as big a part as downwind surfing skills, preparation and fitness. I’ve done this run once before and while it’s an epic run, due to the lay of the land it’s easy to get somewhat disoriented and easily end up off course.

Add in coming to grips with 18′ of board, self supporting yourself across (with no escort boat) and navigating your own line, it’s a true test of the downwind athlete.

The real story of the M2Molokai Challenge didn’t lie in the hosting of an all time epic channel crossing, but the chance to truly experience just what it means to spend a weekend on Molokai. 3G3B7293

In what was likely one of the most memorable greetings in recent times, I crossed the finish line, paddled over to the wharf to be greeted by the young girls of the local canoe club jumping off the wharf and into the water to greet me. From that point, only one thing was appropriate – jumping off the dock hand in hand.

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But the action was not contained to one day. M2Molokai was staged as a two day event to give people the opportunity to paddle their world famous Kamalo Bouy run, one of the most perfectly lined up downwind runs anywhere in the world and 10 miles of surfing down the eastern coast of Molokai.

Sure it’s a race, but weekends like this (and downwind season in general) are about so much more than the result. It’s about the sharing of experiences. It’s about getting back to the roots of why you do things and sharing it with others.

It brings together a bunch of people that may otherwise never meet, to experience places they may never visit. For many, it’s the culmination of months of preparation and the realisation of a long held dream. It’s a special bond and one that is shared by many.

With weekend 1 in the bag, we now look forward to the next three consecutive weekends  of downwind racing with another crossing of the Pailolo Channel in the Maui 2 Molokai Race , the Poi Bowl (down Maui’s infamous Maliko Run) all culminating in Molokai 2 Oahu across the Kaiwi Channel between the island of Molokai and Oahu.

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This month everyone has their own journey. Many people will have travelled from all over the world. Months of preparation, sacrifice and dedication have gone in prior to making it to Hawaii. It’s a month that will humble you to the core. It’s a month of respect for the elements, the ocean, all your competition and all the athletes who have embarked on this undertaking.

You can find all the photos, videos and happenings of the M2Molokai Challenge here

You can follow the day to day happenings downwind month on my Instagram

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“Be good….or be good at it”

At the risk of sounding cliche, there’s something about hitting the mid point in the year.

Wind the clock back six months and I was in a state of confusion and frustration.

The only thing I committed to was to live by the mantra of ‘Do Epic Shit’.

It’s been six months of rolling with the punches, diving into the unknown, embracing challenge, finding solutions and hustling like no tomorrow.

I took the leap of faith to go it alone, to live to my own set of rules – a stoically entrenched set of values that I knew I couldn’t deviate from.

If I was to continue to put my heart and body on the line, I had to be ALL IN. I had to back myself as how could I expect anyone else to have confidence in me if I didn’t have confidence in myself.

As today marks my kiwi birthday, the 4th of July celebrations in the United States and poignantly sits just after the mid point in the year, it’s fitting to cast a look back to see how taking the leap of faith and throwing myself in the deep end has paid off.

It’s challenged my like you have no idea. I’ve destroyed a shoulder, broken some ribs and had to suck it up. Like a bugger for punishment I decided to race my bike and throw my self into multisport as well as racing on the water. At the same time I’ve been neck deep in building a house at home and managing that from afar.

There have been more than a few moments of holy shit and hesitation. That feeling of having a lump in your throat wondering if you’re making the right decision to do or not to do. It’s pushed me, it’s challenged me and I’ve found a few new boundaries in the process that I didn’t know I had.

As America celebrates it’s birthday of independence on July 4th, it also signifies my kiwi birthday falling on the other side of the date line.

Ever guilty of being focussed on the future at the expense of celebrating the small things along the way, here’s a few moments and memories to celebrate one fine day in America and reaching another year older. Here’s a few of the many moments that have made 2017 a year that I know I’ll never forget

Big days out in the hills running the dates with mates programme

3 Weeks Notice Before 2 Days of Hell around the mountains of Wanaka, NZ at Red Bull Defiance

 

7x Consecutive NZ National SUP Titles – and a cyclone to boot

Did someone say #raceface? Any excuse to chew some dirt and throw some dust

 

5x Consecutive Carolina Cup Victories

 

The year of events in extreme weather continued with the added bonus of a win at the Olukai on Maui

Last minute trips to paddle 30 miles around Bermuda and another win over the boys

The infamous Davenport Downwinder & a victory over the boys

A first trip to the Go Pro Mountain Games in Vail, Co. 11x events, 4 days, 2nd in the Ultimate Mountain Challenge and being sent to some very dark places on repeat to find some new depths that I didn’t know existed

A chance to celebrate everything that is Live Like Jay at the Jay Moriarty Memorial Race in Santa Cruz, Ca with the one and only Kim Moriarty

While the first half of 2017 may be in the bag, there’s a monster of a second half of 2017 to contend with.

The month of July sees me in Maui, HI taking on four consecutive weekends of downwind races including three channel crossings culminating in Molokai 2 Oahu on July 30.

Looking ahead to September I have finally (for the first time in 5 years) said yes to taking up my position on the NZ SUP team to compete in the ISA SUP & Prone World Champs in Denmark from September 1-10. After turning down my place on the team in previous years for various different reasons, this year I have said yes.  Like the rest of my year, this is also a self funded trip. If anyone would like to support in any kind of way, please get in touch. 

To everyone who has supported, helped and assisted so far – THANK YOU. It takes a VILLAGE and it’s a village I’m proud to have behind me.

Here’s to the Doing of Epic Shit.

 

High & Dry But Firmly In The Deep End

Oh dear….what the HELL did I just let myself in for?

Did I really think about the consequences of saying ‘yes’ without giving full thought as to the repercussions of what just rolled off my tongue less than a month out from an event like this?

I think I may have firmly thrown myself in the deep in on this one, the exception being that for most of it I’ll be high and dry and I really should have dedicated a minimum of six months to a proper preparation.

It was never officially in the plan to do Red Bull Defiance, the gruelling two day, two person teams multi sport race around Lake Wanaka, but when you drop a couple of loose words into conversation that you’d ‘be up for it’ you have to be careful what you wish for.

Sure enough the phone started ringing to see if I’d fill in for an injured half of a team.

‘Yes’ seemed to roll off the tongue before a deluge of a few ‘oh shit’ moments started running through my mind as the reality of what I was committing to began to sink in.

 

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Don’t get me wrong, I spend a fair bit of time running and riding around the hills of Lake Wanaka, the Southern Lakes and Central Otago when I’m at home, often with some of the best in the adventure racing and multisport business, but it’s a very different proposition going from some fun in the hills with your mates to lining up on a start line of a multi discipline, multi day event.

Call it respect for the craft of others and respect for how others ply their trade –  but multisport is no joke and these are some of the baddest hard-asses you’ll ever come across.

Racing back to back over two days and with one of the harshest run courses you’ll come across, there’s a reason they called this one ‘Defiance’. It’s more than likely that one half of your team will be suffering at some point and teams racing is vastly different to making it from the start to the finish under your own steam.

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But when the opportunity arises to step out of your comfort zone and get down and dirty in the hurt locker, it’s hard to say no. I’m stepping into the unknown and it will be as much about doing and experiencing as it will be finishing.

Managing the highs and lows of a team dynamic, avoiding costly and frustrating mechanicals and operating in a state of physical deterioration is just the challenge that has been needed to spice up the month of January.

To think two years ago that I’d be even contemplating doing something like this on a knee that has had 9x surgeries and countless injuries is testimony to the benefits of regenerative medicine and rehab.

Stay tuned for some of the logistics and preparation that go into preparing for an event like this, i’ll be putting the best of my planning experience to work on this one to ensure we hit the start line in the best possible shape to make it from the start to the finish on January 21 & 22.

 

Managing The Lifelong Hard Yards of Rehab

I have asked a few times recently about how to deal with injuries, which means really means how to deal with rehab as the two go together like peanut butter and jam.

Having been an expert in the art of self destruction over the years – formerly rather than latterly, when you destroy (or semi-destroy) yourself, there are the following stages

  • The OH SHIT what have I done now stage
  • The DIAGNOSIS: not-so-bad, bad, very bad, oh F*&k it’s really bad
  • The Acute Phase: stabilising the injury
  • Healing: a mixture of pain, discomfort, disruption of routine, modification of lifestyle
  • Managing the injury: the pain is less, mobility and movement as you once knew it are starting to return but you’re far from feeling awesome and you’re still far from the point you were at when you toasted yourself
  • The mid-long game: the light at the end of the tunnel, you’re coming out of the clouds, normality is resuming but now managing your mind is the greatest challenge

First things first – get your head around the situation. It’s not the end of the world – although that is how it will see right now. In some cases it may be – deal with it (OUCH!).

Fast forward through the diagnosis, initial healing, healing and you’ll find yourself at the point of ‘managing’ this on an on-going basis.

Whether you’re and athlete or an athlete of life, being broken sucks like no tomorrow and is a serious damper in the fun department. Pain drains your mojo and takes away the good vibes you have to give out to the world. And it makes doing simple day to day activities a right pain in the ass.

Here’s a few of the things that I’ve found have that have significantly helped make life on a day to day basis a lot more bearable, meaning a lot less pain and frustration all around.

REHAB Exercises

These should become part of your weekly schedule. Get a functional movement screen (FMS), find out where your weaknesses are and start working on them yesterday.

They’ll be boring as batshit and likely humiliating to execute (cue 1lb dumb bells and stretchy rubber bands) but everything has to start from somewhere.

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It’s called ‘maintenance’ and you have to rebuild the patterns of movement to be able to doing things as you once did. Find a local guru, get busy, get disciplined and embrace the maintenance.

MANAGE the inflammatories

As many wise people have always said – you are what you eat and a diet of inflammatory processed food and beverage is not really going to do you too many favours long term.

I’m not talking about converting to an OCD expression of vegan-ism, gluten free, sugar free dairy free, wheat free, meat free what ever – I’m talking about eating a wholesome diet of unprocessed real foods. Food is medicine and has been for thousands of years. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

SUPPLEMENTATION

I HATE popping pills, but there is a place in life for everything and as we get older, sometimes our body needs a bit of help in order to function at it’s best.

Having encountered no less that 13 surgeries on my legs, I’ve been critically aware of the need to prevent/delay the onset of creaking knees, not to mention the strain on the tendons and ligaments in my arms from use and abuse they endure on a daily basis. Age is not your friend and you need to help your body out where you can (50 may be the new 40, but a 35 year old body doesn’t bounce the same way a 15 year old one does).

There’s a lot of fang-dangled lotions and potions out there, but I’ll cut to the chase and tell you what I use.

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It’s called AllInFlex and blow me down, it was created for horses and dogs. It’s all natural, comes from the ever so tasty NZ native Green Lipped Mussels and it literally a god send in a capsule.

I ran out a couple of months ago and sure enough I was pretty stiff in the mornings. Three days back on the good stuff and whoah…hold your horses (or feed it to them as well), I’m running down mountains and leaping out of bed in the mornings again.

This stuff is no joke, it’s plain and simple and it’s natural. Bonus.

PLAN

Great things don’t happen by accident and if you’ve danced with the art of self destruction, you’re now going to have to plan how to deal with this in your life on an ongoing basis. It’s not the end of the world, but life as you once knew it may be a little different.

  • Plan to incorporate the rehab and make it as much fun as possible
  • Plan to deal with the mental side of being broken
  • Plan to make what you put into your body a little better
  • Plan to enjoy everything a whole lot more simply by having a bit of a plan.

Simple eh?!

Happy planning and here’s to being pain-free!

 

 

 

 

Ever had that sense that you may have had too much of a good thing?

Feeling a little ‘fatigued’ but not really sure why?

The clocks have turned and it’s dark at early-o’clock.

Welcome to the dearth of the “Off Season” and taking scalps the world over.

While the lands down under are emerging from winter hibernation, the harsh realities of the winter are about to unleash on our northern comrades

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While the temperatures may be plummeting this can be the time to embrace and welcome a whole new world of fun and games you never knew existed.

They say a change is as good as a holiday and the change of the seasons is exactly that.

But while many will extol the value of working on your weaknesses or what you need to be doing in your “off” season (no matter what your sport, job, passion, hobbies or pursuits), I like to take a different approach – and it all starts with mind set.

Regardless of the season, I start to make lists along the lines of ‘if anything was possible, and time or money were no barrier’ what would I want to do? And I’m not talking about sport – I’m talking about life in general.

It’s a pretty powerful statement and it can be pretty intriguing looking at what you write down.

Once you’ve conjured up your list (this comes recommended to do this over a fine brewed drip of caffeine or decent glass of fermented grape juice) the fun really starts and the jigsaw of how to incorporate these things into daily life begins.

A sucker for trying to pack too many things in, I invariably end up with a list that I know is completely unachievable – but by jotting it down I know that at the very least I have acknowledged the things that has been lurking in the depths of my subconscious.

I revolve on a yearly schedule that is fairly unusual, and being someone who thrives on routine and structure, I have to exist in a world which allows little of either.

But what I can do is section out the year – and yes, I hollow out an ‘off season’ and guard it with my life.

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In years gone by, I’ve succumbed to the lure of either pleasing other people or foregoing my own sanity to do what I felt others wanted and needed me to do.

The result? A pretty decent dose of mental fatigue, elements of burn out and starting to hate the things I liked to do. (I’ll temper that statement with the reality that at certain points in your career – no matter what it is, you’ll have to go above and beyond if you really, truly want to make your mark).

So for the 3rd successive year, I have officially declared ‘the off season’.

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A period of recovery, rejuvenation and reconnection with the things that really matter. It’s unstructured (yes, that still challenges on many levels), there are no rules but there is a massive emphasis on doing many of the things I miss doing during the year.

Simply put, there’s a mental, physical and emotional triangle that needs to be put back into equilibrium.

It’s an evolutionary process and one which I find myself changing and adapting each year depending on what feels out of balance.

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Having grown up around many different environments of high performance sport and people who have reached momentous feats in many different walks of life, I’m fascinated with what makes them tick and what allows them to consistently perform to levels of greatness.

One of the things I recognise in those that have to spend large amounts of time away (as you do when you have to travel prolifically for work or sport) is that these people are fiercely protective of their ‘off’ time – be it an ‘off season’, time with family, a vacation or something far removed from what they have to engage in for majority of the year.

So where am I going with this and what is my point?

Embrace your ‘off’ and don’t be afraid of it.

The more you do something, the more important it becomes.

On a personal level, this means coming home. Back to the mountains and to relish the opportunity to do things I don’t get to do much of throughout the year. Depending on how unbalanced my triangle of equilibrium is (mental, physical, emotional) – I use this to guide what this time entails.

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It’s a time to debrief and to plan with absolute objectivity. It’s a time to rebuild and repair from the bottom up. It’s a time to go and be humbled in the most humbling of ways (this happens frequently when you hail from a village of super human athletic specimens).  It’s a time to challenge the status quo and re-evaluate.

I’m not going to lie – it can be a challenging time.

Be it the end of your season, a staleness in your career, a dissatisfaction at work or the imminent challenge of SAD (seasonal affects disorder) as the grim realities of winter set in – embrace the opportunity to do things differently.

Here’s cheers to the off season – may it be as epic as the rejuvenation, challenge, change, growth and excitement it may bring.

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To find out how I’m embracing my “OFF” follow  my Instagram and Facebook pages.

 

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.