Stoking it!

Oh my, oh my, I haven’t wrriten here in a really long time again, have I?

Well, where to begin.

Currently I am located in the Philippines! I have been here for over a month already and what a cool month it has been! I landed in Manila on the 4th of January and went straight from the airport to the local bus that took me on an overnight trip to Naga.

The first two weeks were really sunny and windless (it always makes me laugh how kiteboarders pray for wind and wakeboarders for the exact opposite…) so it was a perfect time to ride and enjoy my holidays. I have gotten into a certain kind of routine, where I would wake up early, have healthy breakfast, go to the cable, have a lunchbreak around 12 (and devour a whole massive meal during that time… ‘lunch break’ my ass), go to the cable again, have an evening beer, eat again and go to sleep. Sounds kinda boring, but it was actually a lot of fun! I am not that good at the cable yet, so I felt like I was able to progress every day a little bit πŸ™‚

After the initial two weeks, I have decided it was time to visit the place that has been my home for the last three winters – Boracay island. I teamed up with my super good friend Leen and after another overnight bus and yet another overnight ferry we have found ourselves on Bulabog Beach, the place where all the kitesurfers usually spend their windy days. The kitespot welcomed us with perfect wind and full sun, so it was really fun to just ride around the bay and enjoy the time on the water.

January is the middle of the high season on Boracay, so I would say there were too many people around for my liking (I am used to the half-empty spot in December and March), but still it was fun to kite. Unfortunately, there was a pretty big storm that took four days in the middle of my stay, where I couldn’t really ride, because the wind was super strong and gusty! It was fun to boost a bit in the evening when the wind became a little weaker, but most of the time it was too much for me to do anything. I treated those days as holidays though and just focused on visiting all the places on the island that I wanted to see πŸ™‚

After 10 days on Boracay, it was time for another long land travel (transportation in the Philippines can really be a nightmare – ferries and buses are rarely on time and whenever you are planning to go somewhere, you have to have at least 4-5h extra to account for any delays on the way) and I came back to CWC wakepark. I am staying in CWC for a few weeks more and after that I am afraid it will be time to go back home! Time really does fly when you are having fun, doesn’t it? πŸ™‚

May wind be with you,
Zuza

On Islands, Competitions, Sun and How Chaos Has Entered My Life

It’s been ages since I have posted my last update on this blog. SEVEN months to be exact. It is an extremely long time, but I do believe that a good note is something that conveys a good story behind it, and somehow for the last few months my life has not been filled with good stories to tell. I had a so-so summer in Greece. I came home for two months to defend my MA and make My People proud with a higher education diploma (Yes, this has actually happened. Finally. I know.). I have organized some girly events in Poland, which were actually tons of fun and which hopefully I will be able to organize this year as well. I met some people who opened my eyes to amazing things I didn’t know before and I met some who showed me the kind of person I would never want to be. All in all, a good 2014. Solid. Solid, but not spectacular. And for those of you who know me, you all are perfectly aware that spectacular is what I think you should go for in life.

Taking it easy on Boracay

But now we have 2015, and as all the problems and dilemmas of 2014 drift into oblivion, new possibilities arise on the horizon. It is up to me to either buckle up, grab them and see where they take me or stay calm and play it safe. I am not sure yet which road I will take, but I am very happy to say that whatever I do with myself this year, it will be on the best gear on the market – Cabrinha! This year I will be on Cabrinha Chaos, I have been riding them since December and can honestly say that these kites are amazing πŸ™‚ They make me happy every time I hit the water, and I can’t imagine I could be riding anything else at the moment. I would like to take a second to thank my amazing sponsor 24Surf.pl here for offering me a really nice deal for this season and encouraging me to pursue kiteboarding even more in 2015. Thanks for always having my back, you guys rock infinity! πŸ™‚

Scott Ritchie Photography

Scott Ritchie Photography

This winter I have yet again spent on Boracay. It is amazing how this place feels more like home to me now than any other spot in the world. Philippinos believe that they are the mistical children of Mother Nature, and there must be something to it, because there clearly is magic involved in how this island draws people in and never lets them go. I’ve been very happy here, and we have had a few interesting characters passing by the island throughout the season, some of whom I hope I will cross my paths with again sooner or later. I was happy to see that there are people who can shape their passion for kiteboarding into their life and be successful at it. Makes me believe that maybe one day I can do it too πŸ˜‰

Yesterday we have finished a Boracay island stop for the ICTSI Philippine Kiteboarding Tour. This even was a lot of fun but also a good lesson on how competition riding differs from your everyday freeriding experience. And I am not even talking about stress, which I am usually able to manage quite well, but rather about the fact that you have to perform when they tell you and where they tell you. No one cares if you have stomped your best trick two minutes before your heat, if you can’t stomp it in the designated 7 minutes then boo-hoo. I am not sure if I like this kind of riding, but for sure I want to try it a few more times in the future before I form any kind of final opinion about it πŸ™‚ I think I will take part in the Polish Kiteboarding Tour this year, so this was a good warm-up experience before the Polish kitespot reality hits me πŸ˜‰ It wasn’t very windy during the competition, so we only managed to finish the single elimination, in which I ended up on the 4th position. It was pretty exciting to participate in this event and one thing I can say for sure – be it during the day or at night, Philippinos know how to after party!

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foto aya

I don’t have that many days left on the island, but I am planning to use the remaining time here as best as I can. The funny thing is that I don’t even know what is gonna happen to me next, and even though slightly unsettling, it is pretty exciting to see what kind of new mess I can get myself into!

I will try to be a better girl and keep this little journal thingy more alive from now on. Stay tuned, be patient with me and keep on rockin’!

May wind be with you,
Zuza

One story ends, another begins

It’s already mid-April and I would say that the season on Boracay is officially finished. The school where I work is already closed, the tide in the bay is very high most of the day and the wind is practically gone, except for a few odd knots here and there. It has been the best kite season I have ever had, full of new friendships, challenges (my first international competition!) and experiences. And even though money is really tight at the moment, I do not regret coming here this winter at all. It’s the first time I have ever truly felt at home somewhere away from home and I already can not wait to come back at the end of October and see all my wonderful island family again. It doesn’t feel like I’m leaving, I’m just taking a few months vacation from this place and I know that all the things and people I treasure will be here when I return πŸ™‚ And so, I am ready to pack my bags and go back to Europe for a while, to enjoy new places and adventures this summer.

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My plan for this summer season is pretty hectic, but hey, this seems to be a rather regular pattern in my life, doesn’t it? πŸ˜‰ On 22 April I am leaving Boracay and going home for a little bit. I am SO EXCITED to see my family and friends, to chill out in my own room for a change and eat my mom’s cooking! I’ll also go visit our Polish Cabrinha office for some new 2014 toys, can’t wait to finally have my new equipment πŸ˜€ After two weeks or so I’ll transfer straight to my homespot, where I will teach (KITE.PL kiteschool, as always!) and take part in one Polish competition in May and then on 15 June I am going to Greece! I’ll stay on Naxos island all the way until 20 August and then fly back to my homespot to take part in two more competitions in Poland STRAIGHT AWAY, one right after another! I am so excited for all the new things ahead of me and I would be lying if I said I was not a bit anxious, but by now I have already gotten used to this anxious feeling in my gut and instead of hating it I have learned to appreciate it. After all, it means the days ahead of me are full of challenges and new goals and if I believe in something, it is that life without setting your bar higher for yourself all the time and trying to grasp as many wonders of the world as possible is no life at all.

I know that as an athlete I have to work really hard these next few months on improving myself, especially my physical strength and stamina. My goal for next winter is to take part in all the KTA competitions in Asia, and so I want to be prepared as best as possible πŸ™‚ This means that from the moment I get home the physical training days are on again!

This is all for now and my next update will probably be from Poland already! If you want to be more up to date with what’s happening in my life, you can follow my official Facebook page (CLICK HERE) and I hope we’ll see each other somewhere around the world! πŸ™‚

May wind be with you,
Zuza

Photoshooting for STL clothes company

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A few days ago I have been approached by a pro-model friend with a modeling proposition. A Korean company STL wanted to come to Boracay for a week and organize a big photoshoot for their 2014 summer collection and they were looking for models who can also kitesurf. After the first meeting and a test shoot I got chosen to be in the crew and so here I am, after 3 days of shooting, and all I can say is – whoever said that modeling is easy clearly has never spent even one day on a real photoshoot set. It’s very exciting, especially that I get to work with a full crew of professionals, but it’s also hard work and you always have to remember that you are on somebody else’s schedule and have to fully commit yourself to being at your best while you’re at it.

A typical day of shooting starts at 8:30 and finishes around 6-6:30PM, with one longer and a few small breaks in between, so yeah, it’s a full, long day of work! We’re shooting both on the land and in the water and the switching on and off the water part is what I find the most physically tiring. It’s all very well organized and during the day I had on about 40 different clothes combinations, all of them requiring some kind of posing on the land and in the water. At the beginning I was not sure if I’ll be up to the task, but all the photographers are really nice and 100% professional and they know how to steer the models in the right direction. The models themselves are super cool too – some of them are my kitesurfing friends, others are people I’ve just met but everyone is really nice and we joke and do stupid things in between the shoots all the time.

It’s been pretty interesting to do something else for a change, but now I am back to my usual kite life. I had a pretty bad session today in the morning and I just honestly hope that the one in the afternoon is gonna be better! I have those days sometimes when I feel like I’m going nowhere with my riding and the harder I try the more awful it gets. It’s pretty hard sometimes to remember that this life itself is already a blessing and I shouldn’t get angry because of such small things… but I try to take a step back and relax every time a day like this happens. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t, but at least it’s a good effort πŸ˜‰

Taking a short break between the shooting

Taking a short break between the shooting

The crew at lunchtime :)

The crew at lunchtime πŸ™‚

I have bought my ticket back home a few days ago. I’ve decided to stay on Boracay until 23 April, so almost a month longer than my initial plan πŸ˜‰ But to be honest I have all I could ever want right here and there is just no point in going back to Poland before the beginning of May… The season is gonna get more quiet soon, but if you ask me, there is nothing wrong about that. It just means focusing on other things and spending time with different people πŸ™‚ And this is precisely what I am gonna go and do right now, fingers crossed the sunset sesh will be amazing!

May wind be with you,
Suzana

Day 3 syndrome

When you wake up in the morning and all your muscles hurt, when there’s no power in your body at all even though your mind is all set to “go and do stuff”, when you hear the wind howling outside your window and still you’d rather stay in bed, you know you’ve been hit by a Day Three Syndrome. Then all you can do is just crawl to the bakery downstairs, buy yourself a cookie and one of those expensive (‘expensive’ being a relative term here) coffees and crawl back to your room to procrastinate. It’s funny how you can spend your every waking hour on or near the water and yet still have those days sometimes… it doesn’t mean I’m not gonna go and ride, but I guess today I’m skipping the ‘ride at 6:30 because the bay is empty’ part πŸ˜‰

I am still torn between staying here until the end of April and leaving on the 1st. I would very much like to stay, but then again, this will mean literally no time spent home at all, as I’m leaving for the Polish kitespot at the beginning of May… It’s always difficult, choosing these things, but the good part is my friends and family can visit me at the Polish seaside if they feel like it πŸ™‚ I still don’t have a ticket back home yet, so I guess it will all depend on what the wind does the next two weeks.

It’s pretty quiet with students here at the moment and so I mostly just chill out, kitesurf, fix all the broken parts in my gear and try to focus back on all the things I’ve been kind of neglecting the past months, like writing my MA thesis for example. I like it that I have enough time to do a bit of everything now, going out and partying is nice but then again, life’s not all about it, isn’t it πŸ™‚

Sunsets on White Beach are still beautiful :)

Sunsets on White Beach are still beautiful πŸ™‚

The wind seems really strong right now, the palm outside my window is starting to make some serious I’m-almost-breaking noises… I guess it means it’s time to go, it will be nice to ride my small kite for a change!

Until next time! πŸ™‚

May wind be with you,
Zuza

4th in KTA Boracay!

(written straight after the competition has finished)
KTA

Registration day

Registration day

What an eventful week it has been! First the Girl on Fire girls kitecamp, then my first competition ever… KTA Boracay finished today at 4PM and after riding in both single and double elimination, I managed to get 4th place overall! Very happy about the result, I never thought I will be able to do it! πŸ™‚

4th place overall :)

4th place overall πŸ™‚

The first two days of KTA presented very light wind so it was all about racing racing and even more racing. It was good though, as it gave me time to talk to people and observe how everything is organized and run here. Thanks to that by the time my heats came, I was confident and calm and could just focus on performing my 7 minutes. On the first day of freestyle I managed to climb up to the 4th place in the single elimination, but during my 3rd/4th place heat I chose entirely wrong settings on my 8m kite and when the wind dropped I was completely underpowered and unable to do most of my tricks. On the double elimination day the wind got really strong and we got pretty stormy conditions. I rode my first heat well, fully powered on my 8m kite, and managed to defend the 4th place. Right after that in my next heat the wind was already so crazy strong I could not unhook anymore, which lead to my loss against the UK rider Rosanna Jury, who ended up 3rd. I am very happy with the results though, I never thought I will climb to the top four on my first international competition πŸ™‚

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I feel I’ve learned A LOT about competition riding during those past 4 days. It’s all about luck, skills to perform in all conditions and being able to handle all your kite sizes equally well. For me an additional challenge was riding my 8m kite in all my heats, as this is a kite size I use VERY rarely and I am not used to it at all. I am sure in lighter wind I would be able to perform much better, but a competition is what it is, you have one chance and you either win it or loose it. There’s no use complaining about the wind or rain or kite sizes, you just have to suck it up and go for it with all you have every time. I still have a long way to go but I am sure I will be able to perform better in the future. This event showed me that it is all possible, but most importantly, I absolutely LOVED being there, riding my heats, living the atmosphere of the competition and just trying to do my best. I used to compete in sports a lot before, but I didn’t even know that I missed this feeling so much. Before the KTA I was not sure if I’ll take to it again, as I always somehow imagined I will be very stressed and uncomfortable, but instead I felt calm, happy and, surprisingly, I felt like I was in the place where I was supposed to be πŸ™‚ Now I definitely know that I want to compete in Poland this year and take part in the whole KTA next season, so I guess it’s time to start scraping the budget for 2014/2015 πŸ˜‰

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All that’s left for this event is the prize giving tonight and then a massive party in one of the coolest beachbars on the island, so I’m gonna finish this update right here, thank you all for the attention and go take a quick shower before the long night out. We’ve all put a lot of effort on the water over the past few days, so now it’s time to let it all go and party until sunrise! πŸ˜‰

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Thanks go to all my sponsors:
24surf.pl
Cabrinha
Evokaii
Cheeky&Coco
GoPro

May wind be with you,
Suzana

all pictures taken for the KTA by the awesome Alexandru Baranescu Photography