By HUGO ROBINSON.
Firstly, and most obviously, what are your goals for this year? What are you looking forward most to?
I have quite a few goals this year. Obviously the big one is to qualify for the WSL Women’s World Tour (top 17 women in the world), but to get there I need to be consistent with my results during the year, so my goal is to win all the 6stars. Even to win one would be amazing. Then to win a contest.
Qualifying for the world tour must be daunting, so how are you preparing physically and mentally?
I think I have worked really hard these past two months, physically and mentally. I know I’ve done all I can and I’m feeling really ready to go, so I’m very excited and looking forward to my season ahead. None of it is daunting for me either, I was on the World Tour for six years and I’ve got lots of experience.
Seeing that New Zealand Surf Festival is being cancelled, how will it be qualifying in other places, and where are you targeting?
That is a bit of a bummer, as it did bring a lot to the Taranaki Community and New Zealand, not just for women surfing but surfing in general. Hopefully we can get it back again at some stage because I think there’s already so many more kids in the water because of it and that’s so awesome to see.
How did it come about that you fell out of the tour? You’ve had time to regroup and it sounds like you’re in great shape, so what are you doing differently or better? Having been on the tour and now not, does it annoy you to see people that you know you can beat – how motivated are you now?
Hell yes, that annoys me seeing other girls there that I know I can beat, if not nine times out of ten. But [it’s] up to them too, because they have probably trained hard the last year or two, but that’s just made me fired up and more determined to do better, be better. I can confidently say that I know I’m just as fit as 99% of them, if not fitter and it’s been amazing to be home and into a routine, no distractions and surfing the most I’ve ever surfed in all types of surf conditions. I’m the most motivated I’ve ever been in my whole career.
How much support do you – and the sport itself – receive from the national body? Should surfing get more national attention?
I get some really good support from my current sponsors Mt Woodgee Surfboards, Subaru, Kameleonz, GoPro, New Balance, Air NZ and Matuse. But it’s an expensive career traveling from event to event, having to pay for rental cars, accommodation, entry fees and some airfares and excess baggage for my boards, so I’m always looking for a helping hand of sponsorship to achieve my goals. As for the national body, they have never done anything for me and obviously I think it could be run differently. I definitely think surfing should get more attention nationally. Olympic sports in New Zealand get way too much attention and funding – it should be spread around to other sports and at least give us a chance.
In connection with support, how difficult is it to attain sponsorship in New Zealand via international surf companies?
New Zealand is such a small country and that’s how the brands look at it I think. Like why would they sponsor someone in NZ who would have max 4.5million people following them in their country, compared to an Australian who has the potential to have 20+million following them? They look at numbers and stats more and more.
Following on, and getting to a real key issue that I have wanted to discuss; are you willing to comment on sexism in surfing? Does beauty and surfing have anything in common? While other sports progress, surfing seems quite stagnant – when and how do you think sexualisation of surfing will cease to be one of the main factors in gaining sponsorship? Are you doing anything to change the dynamic of sexism in surfing? If not, would you be willing to?
With women’s surfing and sexism, I think it will always be a factor and I’m OK with that to a certain extent. If you’ve got it, you might as well flaunt it… again, to a certain extent. The only thing that annoys me sometimes is say the difference between Anastasia Ashley and Alana Blanchard (both known for their buttocks). They have both done well out of their behinds, but so many people don’t know or realize how well Alana actually surfs! She surfs better than most guys and that’s just never really shown. I guess that is partly to do with her choice too though, I mean she has more followers than surfing’s best ever, Kelly Slater. To me that seems slightly wrong, but then again, what’s wrong and what’s right? It is what it is, everyone has a choice on how they want to be, who they want to follow etc, so I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon. There is still sexism in a lot of other sport too, it just doesn’t help when we do our job in a tiny bikini, or maybe it does help fill some of our pockets. Sorry, just kind of blabbered… I’m sitting on the fence, haha.
Numerous world class breaks are becoming more and more polluted. Do you think the surfing industry is doing enough to resolve or bring this issue to people’s attention? Are environmental concerns voiced enough in the sport?
Even if they aren’t world class breaks, there’s a lot of places and beaches that are polluted. Maybe the surf industry doesn’t do enough, but I don’t think it should be all put on them either, just because we use the ocean every day. The thing is, places like in Mexico and Indonesia, there’s people far inland that have no education of pollution and just chuck their rubbish in the rivers and think it’s good because they get rid of it because it’s drifted down the rivers and out into the ocean – which many of them have never even been to and never will get to. So it’s an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality for them and they just have absolutely no idea. Environmental concerns are always voiced within the surfing community; we use the ocean every day, we love it. We want to take care of it, but it’s a huge subject and project. It’s a pretty big thing to change.
Numbers for women in surfing seem to be increasing; what do you think the future of women’s surfing is?
Yeah, it’s increased so much and it’s so good to see! Women’s surfing is becoming more like men’s surfing, which is awesome to see and more people are actually wanting to watch the women because it is just as amazing and exciting to watch now. The future is only going to be better and better.
And finally, on a lighter note, everybody knows that it is mandatory to say ‘shaka’ if you surf, have gone for a surf, or are thinking about going. Are there any surf phrases that you use or really like?
Haha, I never say that but I do say ‘sick’ a little bit like ‘that was a sick turn’ meaning it was a good turn. I try not to say it too much though, because I actually don’t like how a lot of surfers sound when they do talk like that and it’s always fun to try and extend your vocabulary and learn random, different words.FOLLOW US...
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