When Taranaki's ranaki's Princess of surf re-qualified for her sixth year on the ASP Women's World Dream Tour toward the end of this year, along with her supporters and admirers Paige H Hareb bh herself lf b breathed th d a gigantic i ti sigh ih of f relief. li f I In what ht was h her hardest hd t year on t tour t to date, dt to t make k the th tour t again i not t only l cements t her status as our most successful surfer ever, it ensures that Paige will have a shot at the proposed bigger pay packets that are rumoured to be on offer for next years events. However, this year
nearly didn’t happen for Paige when in late 2012 after several years of back pain she was diagnosed with a kidney disorder. An operation to remove a twist in the tube meant Paige spent months feeling tired and physically drained as her kidneys recovered, then in a freak snowboarding accident she dislocated her finger which smashed into five pieces. Once again surgery was needed, her second in a matter of months, inserting a metal plate and six screws which now need to be removed due to ongoing pain. Through all this adversity, which was unbeknown to the rest of the surfing community, Paige still showed up to events, put on a brave face and gave it her best. We
caught up with Paige on her success, her battles and her thoughts on surfing the tour and beyond.
Congratulations on re-qualifying for another year on the Women's World Dream Tour. Yeah my sixth year next year, it's crazy, it's gone so fast! For sure it's a weight off my shoulders, I had a couple of really bad results this year on both tours ( World Tour and World Qualifying Tour) that made me think I wasn't going to qualify so I actually applied for the injury wildcard earlier this year for my kidney and finger operations at the end of last year, but I'm glad I didn't need to rely on that. You have already had a very succesful career yet qualifying for next years tour seemed all that more sweeter, is there anything behind that? I'm not that happy with the way I went this year, the start of this year seems like such a blur, to be honest I shouldn't have done the events at the start of the year, I should of just focused on recovering 100%, but with only one women's injury wildcard and starting the year with a low seed it's risky. If any of the other women above me got injured then it would of gone straight to them and I would of been out. I heard next year is going to be better in a lot of ways so that was a pretty good incentive for me to re-qualify. It has long been debated that professional surfers recieve very minimal prizemoney surfing events that risk life and limb over several days yet other sports, with next to no risk, get huge pay packets, there’s rumoured change in the pipeline, will this happen in your career? I hope so! I mean next year is apparently going to be double the prize money but how big do you call big? Compared to women's tennis and golf it's still going to be a sliver. You can look at it two ways, yes we do deserve more money for some of the surf we put our bodies into but at the same time we all love surfing and it's our choice to do that too. I don't think any pro surfer can really say they are just doing it for the love, not even Rasta (Dave Rastovich) or Rob Machado, the "soul" surfers of surfing, geez they are probably making 10 times more than me. I definitely think next year will be one to watch with many improvements. Have you been able to make a sustainable living out of being a professional surfer at the top of the game? It seems women surfers these days are better off wearing next to nothing and selling an image and make good money from that image. Will we see Paige Hareb doing lingerie shoots or will you stick to
riding waves? My sixth year I don't think I would be doing it anymore if I was losing money, I mean I love it and I wouldn't change it for the world but you can't keep losing money forever can you? The only one wearing next to nothing that surfs amazing and is making money is Alana Blanchard and I'm all for her for that, because that's Alana, she's just being herself. However there are other girls that have tried to be like Alana, have put themselves in mags like Stab Mag for no money, hoping by stripping off that they will pick up a sponsor. It hasn't worked, which I'm sort of happy about because it's not really them, some of them aren't even on the world tour and they don't deserve it. I'm happy being me and doing what I'm doing but of course I'm open to lingerie shoots only if it's done well and professional and I'm getting paid good money. You're only young once haha. You have led the way for women surfers of New Zealand on the world stage and have helped inspire a new crop of girl surfers that are dominating the beaches of our home shores. What do you think spawned this how does it feel that you have been their inspiration? I feel like the kiwi girls have always been quite strong, I remember when I first started doing the NZ comps and I was looking up to the likes of Lisa Hurinui, Mischa Davis, Jess Santorik and Jess Welch. Those girls made me competitive and helped me get to where I am today. Heather Dent was a big inspiration for me, an American lady that lived in Taranaki for a long time and took surf lessons with us kids everyday after primary school. I then became big enough to surf next to her at Rocky Point. She was the first one to tell me about being a pro-surfer and that I could become one. I know Jonette Mead was a wonder for women's surfing back when she always used to organize the Women's Nationals at the Mount, that was my favourite contest, she did an awesome job for girls and women's. I think that was a big foundation for NZ women's surfing, I'm worried now because I look at NZ competitions and there's maybe one per year, it's sad to see. I don't know, maybe when I have more time I can give more back to the sport and make something happen. I never think about inspiring girls but if that's what I'm doing then that's cool I guess, the more girls getting out there and trying it, the better! Each year more talent seems to hit the womens world tour, how do you stay ahead of the pack? Are you constantly re-developing your own technique and skill base? Yeah it's getting tougher every year but I have experience on my side. I give it to the young ones, they surf good but sometimes they are too cocky for their own good and you see it backfire on them. I think next year will be an even bigger divider because all the girls are so used to surfing 2ft onshore beach breaks and yeah they can rip in that, but can they pull-in backside at 6-8ft Fiji? Either way though, whatever the surf is going to be, I'm still trying to work on my technique. I've just got some really good boards from my shaper Wayne McKewen at Mt Woodgee, they have been so good to me, so I'm really excited about next year! Your international results and profile was also the catalyst for the Women’s World Tour to hold an event in your home region of Taranaki, how important has this event been? Yeah I never though that would happen, nek minute it's been here three years in a row! That wasn't really me though, I have to thank TSB Bank, Venture Taranaki, Surfing Taranaki, Craig Williamson and my Dad Mike Hareb and so many people in the amazing Taranaki community for pulling it off. I think it's great for NZ women's surfing and just surfing and New Zealand in general, it really does put us on the map. The girls love coming here because it really is different to everywhere else we go. Unfortunately I don't think it's going to be a World Tour event next year but a qualifying series, so that's still awesome and there will be more girls here than ever before!
What goes down in Paige life in your down time between each seasons tours? It depends, the first few years I had pretty cruisey down times enjoying the summer at home. Then two years ago all I did was train for the 'fight for life' fight I did. Last year I was in and out of hospitals and not in the water. This year on tour I re-qualified without really training that hard, before I finish I really want to give one year 100% effort so I've already made a goal for it to be next year but I'm going to start that effort now. I've only just got home from Portugal two days ago and I'm off to Fiji for two weeks in two days to suss it out for next year, I'm in the 'paddle for hope' stand up paddle race at Auckland Harbour on November the 2nd raising awareness for recovering breast cancer patients. I then have an operation on Nov 5th to get my metal plate and screws out of my finger so after that I'm straight back into it, training hard, surfing hard. If you were to look into the NZ Surf Mag crystal ball what do you think you might see for yourself beyond the years of competing on the tour? That's a tough question, I never like to look too far ahead in life, I have many ideas and dreams it's just a matter if choosing one that's the hard part. I think whenever I retire it will be hard to do and take a bit of time to get used to, so I'm not going to rush into anything and of course I'm planning to be on the tour for a long while yet! I'm thinking of doing a business management course by correspondence next year though. We wish you a great summer, congratulations once again for flying the Kiwi flag on the world stage and becoming one of the great sportswomen of our time. We are immensely proud of your achievements and look forward to more in the future!
Paige enjoying the fruits of being a Pro Surfer in Fiji. Photo: Cory