The art of becoming a good surf photograoher is to be adaptable and when all the elements don't line up as expected to still be able to pull out a shot, after all anyone can make those perfect sessions look good. So imagine when your plan was to hit the country's longest lefts and you'd planned for long groomed walls and stunning lineups and the boys ripping off the top throwing big rooster tails. Then you arrived only to find the wind was blowing from the complete opposite direction. Well when you've got a few keen surfers to work with, if you think outside the box it's amazing what can be created with a little difference in thought. Zane Hicks in colaboration with Chris Blundell makes the most of a short short right in long long left country.
After a casual passing conversation with my good friend and travel buddy Codie Klein and her parents (my second Mum and Dad) and learning the fact they were going to the Maldives for a family trip, they suggested my parents and I join too. I’m pretty sure they suggested it just as a nice gesture and didn’t actually expect us to crash their holiday! With a quick iMessage to Dad, knowing that he had been wanting to go there for a while now, this was a good excuse of a stopover on the way to my next event in Spain and once something is set in his mind, it’s that way or the highway. We were heading to the Maldives! I had already been to the Maldives twice, once on a boat trip and once staying at a resort on an island but I was excited to get my Dad there for the surf as compared to the Mentawais, it was usually rated as bath-like water with softer, easier and more ‘playable’ waves which was perfect for the old man the first few days. Unfortunate for him but good for me, we ended up striking a swell that was solid 6-8ft for most of the week and the locals there were saying they hadn’t had a swell like that in the last 2-3 years! Staying at Hudhuranfushi Surf Resort with the exclusive Lohi’s left hander right on our front door step and all four of us (Dad x 2, Codie and myself) being goofy footers and a buffet for every meal, it was somewhere between Paradise and Heaven. With a couple of surfs a day, sometimes at Lohi’s and sometimes exploring around the other islands on the resorts boat to other breaks like Chickens, Cokes, Sultans and Jails, three big right handers with Chickens my favourite left and lucky enough to score a few fun barrels there on my last day. With a lot of people heading to the Maldives for their honeymoons, this was my kind of honeymoon: getting into the classic cliche of surf, eat, sleep, repeat. Living the simple ‘surfers’ life in Paradise! With a well surfed out and sun-kissed body, it was time to head to Spain. Not one to miss out on a traveling opportunity we managed a few days via Singapore which I would recommend to anyone to pop in for a few days to check out that amazing gardens and crazy cool architectural buildings. From bikinis to full wetsuits and small waves, Pantin, Galicia, Spain couldn’t have been more opposite to the Maldives. Some would say maybe that wasn’t the best prep for the contest but I say surfing is surfing and I felt super fit, healthy and ready to go! Also with a good result history here, it always helps my confidence but on the flip side I’ve learnt never to let my armour down too much. Trying to take my usual laid back approach around the contest scene but also knowing all too well that this contest wouldn’t be worth it for me unless I improved my overall points which I needed to make at least the round before the quarters. With a couple of very close heats, I was scrapping through. I made it to the quarters! A 30 minute quarter final, I started off well and was sitting rather pretty with a 8.17 and a 5.6 and with only one minute to go, I was almost already thinking about how I was going to surf in the semi. With only small inside waves rolling through, even though I had priority, I let the other girl catch the wave thinking it was too small and she wouldn’t get the score on it. Big mistake Paige! Kicking myself as soon as I saw her finish the wave I knew she had passed me and there was no time left to resurrect my position. A bittersweet result, improving my overall points to help get me back on tour but at the same time just missing out on extra points that could make the difference at the end of the year on whether I qualify or not.
With way too much luggage we crammed into our little rental car and followed Ivan, a local from a couple of hours North of Pantin in Spain. He promised us a good swell, fun waves and nice Spanish food so with a 10 day break in between contests and no plan, we decided to check it out. Gijón, is the main town where Ivan is from but he took us out to a ‘secret’ spot where the bay reminded me so much of NZ’s East Coast town Whangamata. It had the exact same river mouth set up and was very tidal. High tide it would look flat but as soon as it started going out, you would see perfect 3-4ft left hand barrels peeling along the sand bottom. We didn’t expect much and planned only to be there for a day or so but ended up staying for four days since the wave was so freaking good! Que Bueno!(so good!) Ivan being an ex pro surfer and now owning Elite Surf Coaching, he helped me out a lot those four days trying to perfect my technique. This wave really was like natures wave pool and was the perfect training ground. After an epic six week trip, I headed home for a couple of weeks mainly to drop off excess baggage and to see friends and family before realising I like the cold less and less as I get older and booked a last minute flight to the Gold Coast as I do a solid two weeks of training before my last two events of the year. The ‘pointy’ end of the year (pun intended). It’s that time of the competitive surfing year where the numbers start getting crunched whether you’re going for a World Title, trying to stay on tour or trying to get back on the ‘dream tour’ through the World qualifying Series (WQS). If you’ve been living under a rock, I’m currently trying to re-qualify on the WQS to get back on the ‘dream tour’ of the Women’s World Championship Tour (WCT)( top 17 Women in the World). So with only two events to go; a 3000 in Kamogawa, Chiba, Japan Oct 25-30 and a 6000 at Birubi beach, Port Stephens, Australia it really is getting to crunch time! It’s a bit hard to explain but the bottom six women from the WCT at the end of this year will fall off the tour and be replaced by the top six women on the WQS tour. If there are any women that re-qualified on the WCT by finishing in the top 10 that also did the WQS tour this year and finish in the top six then they won’t be counted as part of the ‘top six’ quali- fiers and the next spot will be the next person down on the rankings. So currently at the time of writing this there are three women who are ‘double qualifying’ meaning they are currently in the top 10 and top six on the WCT and WQS respectively. Since there are three, that means you count down the next three spots on the rankings to 9th. So whoever is currently ranked at 7th, 8th and 9th would qualify right now if the competitive year was to end right now. I’m currently in that 9th position so I would love for the tour to finish right now but reality is I need at least one more solid result to solidify my position. I’m halfway through training on the Gold Coast, have a new Mt Woodgee board that I’m loving and making my surfing feel spicy so my main focus is just to carry that through to Japan and back to Australia and hopefully next time I’ll be writing about how good the re-qualification feeling is! Fingers crossed for me please! I’m off to qualify for myself, for my family, friends, sponsors, fans, for the people who didn’t think I could do it and for the people who have always believed in me and been there through thick and thin. Come onnnnnn! Let's go!
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