Oakura surfer Paige Hareb is about to tackle her sixth year on the women's world surfing tour, commonly referred to as the Dream Tour. She talks to sports editor Murray Hills about her year ahead.
Paige Hareb is now one of the seasoned pros on the women's pro surfing circuit.
She's had five years surfing the best waves around the world and is keen to put a bad year behind her.
"Last year was a bit of a shambles. I was recovering from surgery on my kidney, broke my finger and had two operations for that," said the 23-year-old this week.
"I had trouble with my energy levels too, so it wasn't the best year. But I'm happy to have requalified for the tour and still be there for this year."
Hareb, whose best results are a first in the Margaret River Pro, which helped her qualify six years ago, and a third in the Roxy Pro 2009, is excited about the challenge ahead.
"For sure, a new year is always exciting. This year, we have some really good new events and new waves on tour, so hopefully that will mix it up a bit."
Hareb said the pressure to perform was something she had learned to deal with.
"I'm the one that puts pressure on myself because I want to do well. But there's no point in getting nervous, because that's when you can stuff it up."
Hareb said the competition was a lot harder than when she first started.
"It gets harder every year. There's new young girls coming up and getting better and better. I'm only 23, but I think I'm the second oldest on the Dream Tour now," she said.
"It's pretty funny really, just a couple of years ago there were 30-year-olds on the tour so times have definitely changed. I still feel myself improving and moving along with this current progression, which is really good, so I'm going to keep going as long as I can."
As for her main competition?
"Myself, ha ha. Anyone and everyone can be beaten. I just have to sort myself out and get all my stars lined up to do it."
Hareb said her main goal this year was to work hard.
"And give it my all. Go into all the events more confident and don't hold back."
Hareb admitted it was hard to stay motivated with so much travel and the tour stretching from February through to November.
"It's really hard to stay motivated. There's so many events and such a big, long year of travelling with so many ups and downs . . . it really is a rollercoaster ride," she said.
"There's so many distractions that can make you get side-tracked from training and surfing, so you have to be really aware and stay focused."
Hareb said she still believed she had a number of years left competing at the elite level.
"I don't want to put a limit on it. Look at Kelly Slater, he's in his 40s now and lots of the top men are generally older. Maybe I'll start the next wave of ‘old' women on the women's tour and be there till my 30s," she said.
"I'm still enjoying it and believe I haven't given it my all yet. As long as I'm healthy, fit and happy with it all, then I'll keep doing it for as long as I can."
As for life living out of a suitcase?
"I hate it. I hate unpacking and packing every week. Sometimes I just leave it all in my suitcase because I can't be bothered unpacking," she said.
"I get home a couple of months later and I'm like ‘damn, I forgot I had that top, I didn't even wear it.' Ha ha."
Last week, Hareb competed in a leadup event to the Dream Tour, but was eliminated in the early rounds of the Australian Open at Sydney's Manly Beach.
"Unfortunately I got knocked in my first heat this time. I'm pretty angry about it, but that's surfing. I have another competition, Surfest Newcastle, this week. Hopefully I'll do better."
The first event of the Dream Tour starts on March 1 at Snapper Rocks, Coolangatta.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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