Big, Big, Big…Merika.

 

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It’s been a fast and bustling 2 weeks – the first time ever to mainland USA, hanging out in San Clemente, California supporting the team at Trestles – thanks to Billabong!

It will take a while to digest all the experiences – but here are a few that come to mind:

  1. Hanging and surfing with the pros at Trestles – always so friendly and welcoming! It’s special to see world tour surfers just relaxing and goofing about with their families and friends – being so ‘normal’. My heart melted when little King (Yadin Nicol’s son) gave me some shells he had found – so sweet! And thanks for all the surfing advice Leo!
  2. Learning more about California culture. Watching the Dodgers play baseball, singing with a mega massive crowd, sightseeing in the Hollywood hills and people watching in Venice beach.
  3. Watching the girls rip in the Trestles comp. Especially supporting Macy Callaghan in her first tour event as a wild card – so inspiring!
  4. Friendly, friendly people, welcoming and helpful – big smiles and a real community feeling in San Clemente.
  5. Big cars, big roads, big roads, biiiiig meals…After a month of French pastries, the US serving sizes had me running up and down stairs with Tanika!
  6. Glowing skyline – everything shines – watching the planes circle to land and the full moon rise – California doesn’t sleep…
  7. Shooting with new photographers (Tim Kothlow and Nico Guilis) and learning more about creating our own (with Alex Hayes and Tanika Hoffman)
  8. Contemplating fires and floods and the state of the world and what to do about it as Hurricane Irma comes barrelling through the Atlantic.
  9. Billabong hangs – so good to catch up and chat and share and laugh with the international Billabong team, surfers and supporters. So good to see Laura, Courtney and Alessa again and cheer them on!
  10. Meeting Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, someone who inspires so many young people to stand up for what they believe in – especially now that the impacts of climate change are becoming more and more obvious…

Goodbye for now, and Thank-you.

Mexico tomorrow!

Bonjour France!

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Brisbane/Melbourne/London/Amsterdam/Bordeaux – I finally made it to France!

My second solo international trip and I have a feeling that, even when challenges come my way – things will always turn out right in the end and a smile goes a long way!

I was welcomed to Hossegor with a familiar faces from a warm, open family that we initially got to know through Snapper Rocks board riders club  – and I felt instantly at home! Surfing and hiking with the boys, spending time catching up with besties, learning french ballads on my ukulele, learning more about (crazy – in a good way 🙂 ) Basque culture, gorging on chocolatins and other delicacies, discovering new parts of south west France through Billabong photo shoots – the first 2 weeks went in record time!

But I’ve actually come to France to compete in two WQS competitions; the Caribos Lacanau 1500 (where I made it through to round 3) and the Pro Anglet also a 1500 (where I unfortunately lost in the first round). The organisers make sure that there was plenty to do – bands, performances – even fireworks, so even when the waves are small and laydays may be called, there’s always something on.

The positive vibe from South Africa is flowing on – proving that surfer girls can still be best of friends while competing against each other! The fun balances out the pressure in gaining all important points in building up your ranking. And, did I mention the boys outnumber the girls who compete in surfing more that two to one., so there is always lots of entertainment in the water and on the land – hehehe!!

Hanging out with familiar faces as well as meeting new people who become friends in an instant, I have loved every moment of my time in France so far and look forward to the next few days before I head over for my first ever visit to mainland USA.

Click for a little gopro clip from a hike in the Basque country

 

Lift Off!!!

I’m taking off to South Africa…Tomorrow!

Whaaaaat??? Did you say Africa??!!!

Beyond my wildest dreams – ummm Yep! , it’s definitely one of those pinch me moments…

So, how did this happen?

Well it started with my snow buddy and pro-surfer friend Tanika Hoffman putting the idea in my head of coming over to do some surf contests.  Then I discovered that my coach Clayton Neinebar (and family and little bro Yani) would be going over around the same time and then Billabong said; ‘yep – go for it’!  Finally, a lovely girl I met in the surf at Snapper, Sophie Bell, said – yeah, come over – we can do all the competitions together!

It’s made me reflect on just how lucky I have been and how grateful I am to everyone and everything that’s helped bring me to this amazing surfing life – to my sponsors; Billabong, Go Pro, Von Zipper, Shapers and Amazonia company. And big thanks also to my muscle master Peter from Source Condition Gym and meticulous surf coaching from Clayton – I can’t thank him and his family enough for all their support. To my Boardriders club Snapperocks and the Surfing excellence program at my highschool (PBC) for all the motivation. Thanks to the many wonderful surf photographers always sharing their images and to all the surf buddies sharing the waves. Thanks to my family for unconditional support, honesty and love and finally thank you to the Ocean for not only giving us waves, but the very air we breathe!

Africa – it’s Africa!!!

My main priority will be competing in the 6 WQS and Pro junior competitions – at the South Africa Open of Surfing in Durban, the Jordy Smith Capetown Pro and the Billabong Ballito (you can follow these via the World Surf League web page: http://www.worldsurfleague.com). Hopefully getting a ranking will help me get into more contests next year.

And did I mention IT’S AFRICA?!!

Land of wild things and inspiring peoples – I am so excited to learn and experience and share the story in this amazing country! I’ll keep doing the video logs and posting Instagram stories – so please feel welcome to follow along!

The countdown is on!

Thanks to the support from friends, family and super sponsors, I’ve been able to reach my fundraising goal to get to ISA World Junior Surf Titles in Portugal! I can’t believe the generosity of so many amazing people, helping me live my dream; it’s very surreal that in less than 5 weeks I’ll be traveling with Australia’s best surfers and coaches to the middle of the Atlantic! I didn’t know that the Azores islands even existed! 899km off the coast of Portugal, in-between America and Europe, I’m so excited to not only travel and compete there, but take you all with me through the power of social media! I’ll be snapchating all throughout, plus vlogs and blogs!

 

It all got a bit more real last week when I joined the Surfing Australia’s HPC preparation camp for those who qualified. We met our team manager and coaches as well as bonding with one another with a hilarious trust exercise (Thanks Botts!). We surfed out stormy Duranbah, imagining how unpredictable and ever-changing the Atlantic could get… And then I sprained my ankle! Emotional roller coaster! I was so sad that I missed out on the second day of the camp; it was just so much fun! But thanks to the people at the HPC, I met with my first physio, Tim Brown at Summit Physiotherapy and Shoulder Centre. He’s helped Mick Fanning, John John Florence, and Courtney Conlouge who have all had an ankle injuries recently. After some inspection he reassured me that it wasn’t a bad one –  I just needed 3 days of staying very still before starting the rehabilitation and strengthening. A couple of weeks out of the water for me, mind surfing and mental preparation, lots of core workouts and some homework. I’ve also made a short video of my training with Clayton Nienaber, who is the only coach on the Gold Coast that uses waterproof radio helmets so he can communicate with us while we are in the water! Here’s the link (https://youtu.be/AhPlfTKGtdw)

I’m so excited to see what the future has in store, but I’m even more excited to share this journey with you all!

Including, a fun night with some live music at the Dust Temple in Currumbin! On Thursday the 25th of August from 6-8pm, come along as a thank you for helping me achieve my dream!

PS. Thanks to Juan Medina for the awesome night photo!

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Road Tripping – Billabong Oz Grom Cup

Last week we loaded up our trusty van, Bruce, to take a 4 hour trip down south to beautiful Coffs Harbour for the Billabong Oz Grom Cup surfing comp. It’s a bit like a family reunion, meeting people from all over Australia with a love of surfing and a drive for winning!

Everyone’s checking out each other’s equipment and seeing how much they’ve improved their surfing since the last comp. This one is held over 6 days, with the conditions in the surf changing hour by hour! My first heat was held in 1-3ft waves and light winds – so much fun and I won by posting one of the higher heat scores of my division. It was so much fun staying around the competition site with my friends – playing and running around. 
I want to thank the Joesphsons, Bow and the Walters for letting me bunk with them during the comp… It’s been awesome seeing my friends that have a goal of being a pro surfer (I definitely do too) and watch them try and try to achieve it. That pushes me to try new things out in the water in order to move my way to the top. 
Three days later and the quarter finals were held in small, choppy waves with a strong northerly wind! It was no point waiting for a good wave – you just had to take any chance you could get and hope you could make something of it…it didn’t work for me. I lost in the quarter finals.
It was such a shock and disappointment.
I had done everything I could do in preparation for this – working hard and training, staying near the competition so I could stay in the ‘zone’, not staying up late with friends, but getting up early for surfs…None of it stopped the heat from going pear-shaped for me. Was I over confident? Wrong time of day? Blame the girl who was hassling me? Blame the waves? The wind? Myself? I feel like I let people down. I feel like I let my sponsors down. I felt like I let Mum down who had taken time off and driven all this way. I feel like I let myself down…
How do you ‘shake it off’ and bounce back? 
Mum took me to the place she had been staying – a community near the ocean where her friend lived in a self-sufficient, solar powered cabin in the middle of a national park. It felt like home – away from the noise and buzz of the city and competition zone, to the green peace of the rainforest. It felt like my soul was expanding again – connecting with all the other life forms that are there if we only stop to notice…
We all squeezed into the tent- top and tailing it – then woke up at dawn to walk 10 mins through the rainforest teeming with life, to reach the most beautiful, empty lineup I had ever seen. Despite the leeches, cold showers and no flushing toilet, I found out that the more simpler it gets, the more you stop and appreciate the things around you – which gave me a perfect transition into the next step from falling down… Getting back up. 
Now it’s training everyday, 4-5 hours in the water building on my strengths and working on my weaknesses, finding new competition strategies, gym sessions for muscle building to boost my power in my turns and remembering to appreciate the simple things…😊 
  

        

  

     

The Billabong Bikini Truck – A lil trip down south

Mum had the best news when I came back from my morning local surf – our friends from Billabong had called and asked whether I would be interested in joining the Billabong Bikini truck which was going to Newcastle, Cronulla and Wollongong. Most of the other Billabong surf girls were in China for a surf competition and I was available because of school holidays – so they asked me! Mum said I could go, as long as I kept in close contact and kept a diary of my adventures – so here it is!

Day 1

Today was the day I got to FLY down to Newcastle with Alesha for the Billabong bikini truck on their east coast tour. I met Alesha at the airport and we hopped onto the plane bound for Newcastle. When we arrived, we jumped into the rental car – in which I was crowned the “DJ’ and ‘navigation queen’ – so I was really stoked!

We drove past a lot coal factories and coal and I remember Mum saying something about Newcastle being a big coal port and how some activists are trying to stop more coal mines inland because of global warming…

The hotel was fun! Alesha and I just HAD to jump on the bed. We then met up with the photographer Jimmy and the rest of the team for a bit of exploring. We travelled to the beautiful Queen Baths. We took photos and ate icecream and noodles before bed.

Day 2

I missed the alarm! Luckily Alesha woke me up and I had a super fast shower, packed up everything and raced to the site for the bikini truck set up. It was so much fun meeting people and putting on their flash tattoos – but there weren’t as many people around as usual because of the SHARK sightings! No surf for me today – the beaches were closed…

It was so much fun helping out, balancing pineapples on my head, playing the ukelele with the amazing musician/singer Lily! We sucked in some helium from balloons and made our voices go funny while singing – hilarious!

Then it was navigation time. I got to guide Alesha through Sydney over the Sydney Habour Bridge. Sydney traffic is always nerve-wrackingBut, we made it to Cronulla and stayed in a nice hotel with excellent wifi – what more can a girl want?!

Day 3

I missed the alarm AGAIN!! Which is very strange because at home we regularly get up at 4.30am to go surfing! Luckily I can get ready in 2 minutes flat! It was the busiest day for us, being in Cronulla and a little stressful with the council not being there to open the locked gates for us to set up. But soon everything was up and running smoothly and Felicity Palmateer (international team rider for Billabong) came to give us a hand. She is so nice and an amaaaazing artist. Once again we mingled with the many visitors, flash tattoos, drinking coconut juice, singing and talking about surfing, before we dashed out to do a little video – frolicking through the flat, shark infested (YES! AGAIN – shark sightings!) waters of Cronulla! It was so much fun hanging out with Felicity and the team, until it was time to lock and load and move on down to Wollongong.

The sharks were still around – but the waves were flat, so there wasn’t much temptation to get wet…hmmmm..seems like I didn’t need to have brought two surfboards along. It was great to have brought along the new OBfive cruiser skateboard though (Thanks OBfive!) – lots of fun for the flat days!

Day 4

My last day with the bikini truck was in Wollongong – where the slushies were flowing free…I think I may have had too many…It was great to be set up outside the Overboard surf shop where they stocked Duranbah boards! Thanks Duranbah boards – I’m so lucky to have you!

It was time to fly home – taking multiple pictures of the clouds and the sunset shining through them. It was such a great trip – I love this life and I love showing other people how happy and healthy you can be enjoying surfing and the sun and the wild outdoors!

Most Fun:

Singing with Lily,

Blasting songs through the blue tooth in the rental car,

Having fun with photo shoots,

Meeting new friends,

Juggling pineapples

Eating lots of yummy food – ice cream, sushi, Indian curry

Seeing new places

Learning about life on the road!

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The Amazing Conference

On the 17th of march I was dropped off in Byron bay for the Economics of Happiness Conference that my Mum was helping organise and guess who was a speaker? David Rastovich!! Dave Rastovich ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNZTwxWPqpY&feature=youtube_gdata_player)
Dave imageTHE free surfer of Blue Horizon fame. When I heard that he was there I fully freaked out!! and when I met him he gave me a big hug…he is so tall!!! hahaha and later that day I got to join in his workshop with localisation leader Helena Norberg-Hodge. It was about your true identity and role models  and I made a comment about what Dave said about being born into a world with pollution, climate change, global warming and animal extinction.  After the workshop a lot of people came up to me and said they liked my comment – I was  ‘engaged’ with the crowd 🙂 hhahaha yeah it was fun!
Then the next night guess where I stayed?….Yes, at the home of THE MAN HIMSELF and his lovely partner Lauren!! ahahh it was really fun! When Lauren and I were pulling into the driveway we saw a red belly black snake! then we saw another really small one and stopped just in time! We sat on top of the car and watched it, but it didn’t move – so we had to drive around the snake! and it was really freaky because when we started to drive the snake started to move where the car was going!! and we had to go really slowly because on the other side was a really big ditch!! hahahaha we were really frazzled because we saw 2 snakes and Lauren has only ever seen 1 in one year and also it is the year of the snake AND i am born in the year of a snake!! so my nickname became serpent girl hahahaha
When we got into the house it was so much like my house! http://www.mindfood.com/?article=i-built-my-dream-home-for-25-000-enviro) they are building there actual house  and are living in a demontable. They have a gas cooker camping oven (just like we had when we were building our house ) an outside shower – (so do we!) , a few acres mostly in the forest (us too!). They didn’t have running drinkable water yet, they have to buy really big tanks full or boil some – we have a filtering system to drink the sky juice!! and a one room  demountable – we lived in a tent while our house was in the making ( same as them!! ) and the best thing of all , when you look out the bed room window ( in theirs and in ours ) you see lush, aussie forest and the abundance of animals and birds are astounding!!!
But any way we watch a surfing movie called “The Heart & The Sea”  which Dave and Lauren are both in. Dave is riding the most difficult surf board to ride ( a model of a ancient  Hawaiian chief’s and it is basically a 16f heavy, finless piece of wood ) and he stood up!!. Lauren was amazing with her long boarding!! and I am still so amazed that I got to stay there 🙂
The next morning we woke up at six and went down to surf at the pass :). It was really awesome that mum had organised a surf lesson with Dave, Lauren, Pete and local surf legend , Rusty as teachers…IT WAS AWESOME!!!!  We didn’t have that much luck with weather ( rain, rain and more rain with a siding of wind  ) but we got a wonderful rainbow!! and I have to say that was good enough for Micheal Shuman, Charles Eisenstein and Manish Jain – but luckily it was very small surf 🙂
  P E R F E C T !!