New Zealand Surfing - - Behind The Cover -

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!

The ded­i­cated space where you the read­ers have a chance to have your im­age in print and win some amaz­ing prizes at the same time. You don't have to be an aspir­ing pro­fes­sional - we are af­ter shots you have taken of your mates, cool line­ups, hol­i­day...

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