After we'd checked out from our rooms and packed up all our gear, we all met at our shared hire car about 8pm in the evening. After stacking the car full of gear and strapping boards to the roof, we set off on the 6 hour drive to Playa de Pantin, in Galicia, Spain.
The event was scheduled to kick off the following day, so we figured with the 6 hour trip we'd be in the event city at 2am in the morning, with plenty of time to check in and catch some sleep before our early round heats the next morning. As luck, and some bad management would have it, we rolled into our accommodation at 6am the next morning. The GPS navigation system had shat itself about 4 hours into the drive and 3 Ozzies and 1 Kiwi had to pretty much guess ourselves around the Spanish countryside. We were all super tired, frustrated and over it when we rolled up to the event expecting to surf within a few hours. Luckily event directors called a lay day and we all proceeded to crawl into our individual beds, cursing the sun, the GPS, our bloodshot eyes and bad luck. After some much needed rest and recuperation, we cruised down to the competition site late in the afternoon, and had a warm up surf in small but fun conditions
The competition kicked off the next day and I was feeling really confident after a warm up surf in some punchy and small conditions. I was scheduled to surf into the afternoon and watched with horror as the surf deteriorated from fun and small to barely contestable as my heat approached. I was still confident of getting a result and going through to the money rounds. The heat ended up being a low scoring paddle fest with most scores dropping in the single digits. It seemed like I'd paddled up and down the arena 55 times but couldn't buy a wave that I could stick more than 2 decent turns on. A 3rd place heat finish left me frustrated and bummed but I was quickly focused on the finish of this European mission and getting home to New Zealand.
Europe has been an incredible experience and I can definitely say I've grown as a person and as a surfer. The constant travel, tricky surf conditions and lack of sleep and event preparation have been a massive learning curve and point of difference from last year's successful Australian Pro Junior campaign. I can't wait to return home and spend some time with family and friends and really debrief from this trip and prepare to come back next year and crush this continent. Thanks for taking the time to follow me on this mission through South Africa, Asia and Europe, I appreciate all the support and will keep up the blogging when I return home and prepare for next year.