After a week of waves it was nice to roll into last week with the kind of surf contentedness that we only get a few times each year. Surfed out, happy, relaxed ... what a combination. So to watch the ISA World Surfing Games taking place with our very own Saffi Vette and Paige Hareb fighting for an Olympic spot among the world's best – it was something special.
Photos: ISA/Sean Evans and action shot ISA/Ben Reed.
Saffi did us proud, but the 19-year-old Gisborne surfer was the first of the two-Kiwi team to exit. Then Paige, New Zealand's most successful surfer ever, looked like she was going to go all the way. She needed a top seven finish to take the Olympic spot that she has dreamed about for so long. And she looked right at home in La Bocana's long lefts (almost an identical wave to her much-loved Rockies back home in Taranaki). But her dream run would not deliver her into the final – she finished in 11th place – agonisingly close to her goal.
To make matters worse it was on Paige's birthday that her goal slipped through her fingers. In testament to the strength of her character, Paige joked, "unfortunately I couldn't have my cake and eat it too. It couldn't have been any closer within my reach, slipping through my fingers at the very end ... and that couldn't hurt any more. But that's sport, I hope I at least made it exciting for you all. I want to thank every single person who has been on this journey with me."
Yes, Paige, that was an incredibly exciting week. Thank you, and Saffi, for making all the sacrifices you had to to chase that dream. Inspiring as always.
See you at the beach ... Derek