surf2surf blog

Annabel's Blog - Year of change

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - Annabel Anderson - Water Girl

Annabel Anderson has lead the World SUP Rankings consecutively since their inception. She is currently maintaining a substantial lead heading into the back half of the year.
Read her latest July 2015 update below:

Whoah…where did the first half of the year go? Blink-and-you-miss-it and it’s already clicked over into the back half of the year, it’s the 4th of July and it’s my birthday.

It’s been a different year to most, but six months in, some big gambles are starting to pay off.

It’s not every year you change literally everything – but that is exactly what I went and did.

It seems only yesterday I was hopping on a plane to Florida at the start of January, far from my usual way to start to the new year, but 2015 was always going to be a year that was far from normal.

If 2014 was the ‘year of transition’, 2015 has been the ‘year of change’ and all the challenges that come with it.
From boards to paddles, training and my competition schedule, anything I knew and trusted just went out the window along with all my old gear.

I was leaping into the unknown and all I knew was that in order to make gains, I needed to make changes.
Six months down the track and things are on track.

The mindset of taking a few steps backwards and sideways to make some major steps forward is starting to come together.

Having usually pounded myself with a chaotic amount of competition and travel in the NZ summer, I needed to lay the prep for the northern hemisphere summer. A lot of fun was sacrificed in the process but it was a necessity rather than choice.

In Oct last year I’d had a major amount of work done on my knee as old injuries from my rip-shit-and-bust youth came back to haunt me. I’d spent the last couple of years trying to ignore the inflammation and swelling but it was taking it’s toll. Hello to a lot of needles, dissolving of bone spurs and re-gluing what was remaining of my ACL and the recovery that goes with it.

I’d also changed everything I come to know and trust about training and competition schedules. Back to back seasons of up to 70 events a year was not exactly sustainable long term.

What ever happened, there was going to be feedback based on results. From that I would ascertain what to continue, stop or change.
Off no racing and a short preparation I secured my 4th consecutive King of the Harbor ocean race and NZ SUP titles in March. Some may say I’ve had no competition in NZ, but that is far from the case. When you’ve been at the top for a while there’s always a target on your back.

Results pointed in the right direction and I began the annual northward migration as the first southerly of winter started to hit.

First stop was Tahiti for their major paddling event of the year, the Air France Paddle Festival – a tough, hot 25km of open ocean, reef channels, and lagoon.

Thinking that it was just the stress of packing everything up for the summer was the cause of feeling a little wrecked, the day I flew out I knew I was in trouble. I had the flu, I was a wreck and I had the biggest event of the year on the East Coast of the US in ten days time.

Somehow I hauled myself out of bed, made it to the start line…and surprisingly the finish line in Tahiti. Just making the finish was monumental, finishing 1st was serious bonus territory.

Onward to the East Coast and North Carolina’s Carolina Cup.

Having made this trip twice before I have the travel pretty dialed, but that’s not with the flu and not with a week of appearances, photo shoots and coaching factored into the mix . Everyone who is anyone was there and the 14 miles of open ocean, inlet, intracoastal and back in the ocean is possibly the toughest on the calendar.

All I could do was to trust the work that I’d done and 30mins in, I made the break and kept extending.
14 miles of the most challenging race of the year and my 3rd consecutive title in the bag, along with some valuable world ranking points to extend my lead in the world rankings.

Trust me, I was more than grateful given how I was feeling.

Back to the West Coast ,my summer base in Southern California and I thought I was getting on top of things when I got slapped in the face big time with the flu. I didn’t leave the house for 8 days and end-to-end I was down for 5 weeks…and I never get sick.

I now that I was extremely thankful I’d earlier elected to turn down my selection and skip the ISA World Champs in Mexico in favour of my own schedule of focusing on the biggest and most prestigious events as I’d done in 2014.
In it was a move that in hindsight was a smart one.

I dived back into competition mode a couple of weeks later with the Santa Monica Pier Ocean Festival. It was going to be the first time I’d faced off with my long time sparring partner Candice Appleby in 8 months and she was coming in hot off 2x wins at ISA Worlds in Mexico.

I went for a hit out and to see where things were at and I was stoked to power away with the win.
From the West Coast I headed East to New Jersey for a quick in/out weekend of competition taking out the Endless SUP Race and before jetting to Idaho.

Yep, the middle of nowhere for something I’d never done before.

Competition white water at a $50k purse. I had no idea what the heck I was getting myself into except that the week would be a matter of learning and learning fast.

A combination of technical kayak-inspired technical timed runs as well as SUP Cross (think motor cross, on a river, through rapids and around buoys where carnage and crashes are encouraged for the benefit of the spectators) and you have to keep progressing through the rounds of each format each day.

To walk away with 4th overall against the river specialists and that I’d badly sliced my hand on broken glass just minutes prior to the finals on Sunday was way beyond my expectations but as soon as I was finished, I was rolling onto the next destination – Lake Tahoe with a handful of stitches to boot.

A no-money all-glory event that is based on the premise of ‘Go Big or Go Home’, we were in for a tough weekend of racing at 6200’. Saturday’s 6 mile course race with a million corners to turn and 300 people on the start line was more akin to a drag race through Spaghetti Junction at rush hour.

I did everything possible to make life hard for myself getting pushed and falling at the start and having 100m to make up. I may as well have tied an anchor to my fin and dragged it around.

Half way through I’d put myself back in a position to pounce and pounce and protect I did. This was a race where there were so few opportunities to pass that it was about being smart, not brash.

Sunday brought a 14 mile flat (but far from flat) grind and a second win for the weekend.

More promising was coming out of four weeks of back to back travel and competition, having plenty in the tank and feeling fresh. Others not so much.

With the current state of major SUP events in total disarray, multiple major events for 2015 cancelled, a world tour which has lost it’s gloss and promise (what happens when they become notorious for not paying out prize money and constantly cancelling or moving event locations and dates) it’s been challenging year to plan for. The effect of this is that I have taken 2015 as the year to make changes, to take risks and to try things I wouldn’t normally do, and to learn.
At the halfway point I have a significant lead in my #1 position in the World Rankings building off my solid performances and results in 2014 winning the Champions Tour (an athlete organized Tour comprising the most prestigious international events in 2014).

My ACL has regrown and is stable for the first time in a long time.
Having changed almost everything there has been to change, I am learning what is working and what worked before.
I’ve taken risks that I have been scared to take, but they will challenge me to become better athletically, mentally and physically.

I have launched my own signature lines of boards with my equipment partner and have many other exciting projects in the mix.

As the 2nd half of 2015 beckons, I will continue to be challenged, the competition is better than ever (and trust me – the difference between the top men and women is minimal in this sport) and I will continue to grow from the changes and challenges I have presented myself with.

Results will continue to be feedback to the changes I have made and it will be me against myself as much as myself against my competition.

Thanks for the support and you can bet that I am gagging to get home to surf, ride bikes, run trails and play this coming summer downunder, I just have a bit of work to do before the southern play time can kick off once more!