For many years I’ve enjoyed the company of many Tahitian friends, spent many wonderful moments in the islands of Tahiti and shared many wonderful days paddling, surfing and watching the sun go down over the edges of the lagoon.
As a tribute to my new partnership with Air Tahiti Nui, I’ve gone through the archives and selected some of my favourite moments and memories from trips gone by.
If these are not enough of an excuse to visit Tahiti or fly the skies between New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Los Angeles and Paris with Air Tahiti Nui, I’m not sure what will.
If someone tapped you on the shoulder and said you’d drawn the golden ticket to spend a fortnight on a tropical island, it’s quite possible you’d be jumping for joy, bouncing on beds and swinging from the rafters.
Sun, sand, warmth, possibly even some waves!
Sounds Ah-mazing right? Possibly even a tan to boot…pack that bikini now girl!
For most, this is precisely the image that is conjured up – it’s one heck of a sell. “Who” wouldn’t want to escape to paradise, you’d be positively nuts not to.
When you got home, there was a letter. It detailed everything about the trip and what to take, but it didn’t say when.
Each week you checked the mail, hoping for another letter with some more information about this ah-mazing golden ticket to paradise.
You’d told all your friends, promised to send pictures to your mum, the anticipation was building, but you still didn’t know when you were going.
After weeks of waiting you called the number on the golden ticket and got the answer phone. You left a message. Actually, you left messages every second day in the hope of getting something other than the answer machine.
As the weeks rolled on and the information didn’t come, life threw you a couple of curve balls. That early excitement was fast starting to fade into low level anxiety when combined with all the other things that were lining up in your life.
All of a sudden you got the information you’d been waiting months to receive…and you could feel the pressure of all the balls you were trying to juggle starting to mount.
I’ll cut a long story short – this is a some what accurate analogy of the build up to this year’s ISA Prone and Paddleboard World Champs.
Months came and went and we still didn’t have information about where it might be. Fiji was mooted and finally announced as the host months after the initially schedule dates of the event while any other information was scarce to find.
The dates were set, the dates were changed. Given a small amount of information as to where it might be be held, this then changed again.
Having won the NZ Nationals for the 6th consecutive year in both the distance event and the surf racing event . I accepted my position on the team as the female representative for SUP racing based on what I knew I would be able to commit to back in February….fast forward a few months and my world got a little turned upside down and shaken around.
While there is not need for the details of my world being turned upside down and all around to be aired for public consumption, it definitely began to affect the decisions I was making and it necessitated a reconsideration of my plans and schedule. Was any of this in my control? Only the decisions I was making in the wake of the information I was faced with.
Fast forward to October and I made it home with all my gear in tow prepared for anything and everything. I was fit, I’d just finished up a season highlighted with some incredible highs and I finally had the chance to get my head around the planning and execution of this ‘fortnight-in-paradise’ that was fast turning into a nightmare-covered-in-chocolate.
While the proximity of Fiji seems relatively close to NZ, the reality soon began to be anything but. As I costed everything out, it soon became apparent that this little jaunt to the South Pacific was rather to be a rather pricey affair.
At the same time, some other, shall we call them ‘life commitments’ started rolling in at 100% over budget with a time line coinciding with the dates of Fiji.
Time was running short and it time for some fast decisions to be made.
As with any decision you make, there is always the cost of what you’re not doing. And often what you’re not doing is a hard pill to swallow.
Looking at the facts objectively as to what was best for me (not what was best for others) the decision was simple.
And as with all decisions, there is always the potential ramifications and fallout of the decisions that you make. Good or bad, you take it on the chin and roll with the punches.
But when some of those punches come a little below the belt, are of the red card variety, and the hits at your chin miss leaving you with a bloody nose and the start of a black eye – it’s probably time to take stock of the situation and yes, there were a few cheap shots sent in my direction.
Gotta love a good round of chinese whispers in the era of Facebook eh? Nothing like a bit of banter eh? What, someone took a screen shot of what you just posted? Yes people – don’t be the person about to give themselves a MEGA PALM FACE…..
There are a number of reasons that contributed to the decisions I made a week ago. Some were concerns surrounding the event (which instead of debating publicly, I raised directly and constructively with the ISA) as I was more than aware that others shared similar concerns.
Asked why I had not gone down the route of crowd funding to assist in covering some or all of the expenses associated with attending this event, it came back to personal values.
While crowd funding and the likes of give-a-little are a powerful medium and most definitely have their place, I struggle with the deeper meaning of asking people to hand over their hard earned cash for my me to spend a couple of weeks in paradise.
Maybe I’ve always had to earn it, but I value just how hard it can be to earn a dollar. So when you ask for a dollar, there’s always some kind of ‘transaction’ be it in the form of a good, a service or an emotional deficit. A sense of ‘owing’ to those that have stumped up.
Quite simply, I didn’t feel comfortable asking for handout. I know of many others that are more than comfortable doing this and good luck to them. I’m more of the ilk that you save that kind of trump card for a time of serious emergency when the shi*t really hits fan and you are in desperate need of help or assistance. A fortnight in the South Pacific didn’t really fit the profile for me on that one.
So there you have it. This is not a decision I took lightly and it is DEFINITELY not for the reasons that some people have aired.
I take seriously the responsibility that goes with representing myself, my family, my friends, my sport(s) and my country which I do week in, week out for a large portion of the year and hold myself to the highest levels of personal delivery. I also have goals and ambitions both inside and outside of sport.
Like all things I do – I see it in the context of ‘winning the game of life’. It’s a privilege to be having to make decisions where many will never have the opportunity to have either choice.
Good luck to everyone attending the ISA World Champs in Fiji later this month.
May you be safe, may you make your country proud, may you play to the best of your preparation and may you rise to the occasion.
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.
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!