This trip did not start off on the right foot. It was one of those beginnings where I wish I had never left the ground and just wanted to be back in Vancouver with my hubby. It started with my arrival to the airport. I was getting denied the ability to fly with my race board. I had to make expensive calls, cry, pray, be patient and nice, but I was so stressed out inside. Finally,....after a while of being unsure if I would even be going on the flight as I needed to fly with my board one of the managers let me check my board in but did not guarantee a return trip with my board and I had to pay a lot of money... but at least the board was getting on...
It was a 15hour flight and I was in the middle seat. BUMMER but I guess someone's got to be in the middle and this time it was me. Lucky for me though I had two very nice older people on either end of me who by the end of the trip were so concerned and so helpful with their desire to want to help me out. THANK YOU special ppl. On the plane, I knew things were still not right with my stomach. I had been battling some sort of stomach bug for nearly a week. With serious bathroom and cramp issues I was not able to really eat very much food. After trying to sort of pick at a couple of things on the dinner food on the plane I started to feel very uncomfortable in my stomach.... I was having slightly more cramp pains than I had in the last two days so I got up to try to go to the bathroom... The next thing I was doing was lying on the ground in intense abdominal pain. I had three flight attendants looking after me forcing me to get up as I was not allowed to lie down. Eventually I was getting my vitals checked, the flight attendant was talking to the doctor on the satellite phone, I was getting pills, and eventually thankfully due to a good bathroom time the cramps were subsiding to a manageable level. I went back to my seat and just held it together until we landed. Upon landing Andreo and the driver were there ready to pick me up. Thank goodness.
Andreo is working with Sun n Surf a company out of Lebanon that is distributing SIC in the middle east and Gulf countries. He was in Abu Dhabi to help me out and do some business. It was nice to have some company while being so far away from home and in a really unfamiliar place with many unknowns ahead of me.
We arrived to the hotel late at night. I didn't bother opening the board as I was told by people whom I have communicated with that I should go see a doctor about my stomach. Well, after getting settled we took a taxi to go find a hospital. Once at the hospital I found out that they would not accept my travel insurance card and I could not reach them by phone so we just went back to the hotel. I kind of just prayed that my stomach pains would eventually subside.
The next day we opened the board bag to find 2 very big cracks in the board. I was pretty sad about the whole affair as it is a one of a kind prototype.... SAD face. I found some stickers I brought and did my best to tape up the cracks and hope that no water would enter the board for the event. There was not much more I could do. At least I could still paddle the board.
We went into the city centre so Andreo could do some work and to just look around but I was still not feeling too great so it wasn't all that much fun in the end.
It was a little strange as we had not heard anything from the race organizers or seen any racers or anything. BUT on Wednesday slowly ppl were beginning to arrive. We still did not know much about the event and I really wanted to get on my board to practice but no taxi would take us.... so we had to wait. Luckily we met Olivia at breakfast. She is a great racer from France and she had a rental car. She kindly invited to give us a ride later in the day when her board might arrive. SO, we walked down to Yas Beach which is a private beach... a little piece of paradise amongst construction and nothingness.. it was a very strange place... with hookas, cabanas, white sand, blue water and enclosed with nothing really around...
Later in the afternoon close to dark Olivia gave us and my board a lift to the marina where the race would be held. We did a quick paddle and then found out about a special deal to try out the flowboarder at the water park. Flowboarding is this crazy standing wave where you can body board or stand up surf it... it takes some getting used to as it is not exactly like surfing but we picked it up and it was totally fun. I was still not feeling 100% so I took it real easy and didn't try it out too hard as I didn't want to waste precious energy that I probably lacked from not eating for a week and a half AND I didn't want to get injured! I think I did the smart thing and tried it out a bit but mostly watched and chilled!
Thursday was the distance race. Because it was SO HOT (45Celsius) they pushed the race back until 4pm for the ladies and 5:15pm for the men. It was odd to race so late in the day. I had never really done it. So it was new to me on what to do and eat before the race. I relaxed mostly, stayed out of the heat and ate a fairly big breakfast and a light lunch.
Our briefing was at 1:30pm and we were explained the course and the rules etc etc. It was an interesting distance course.... 6 loops with about 8 turns in each loop. Hmmm.. not really my style or what I like for a distance race but you gotta just go with it sometimes. So, I turned my negative mind off and got the positive one on and got on the water to practice some turns:) haha.. Off the start I just went for it to get to the first buoy first and make the turn on my own and clean.. Well, I managed to stay in front until.... I had my first brain fart! I was so focused that I missed an entire buoy. Before I got tooo far the girls shouted out but by the time I turned around and went around the correct buoy I was in third going into the second lap. I pushed hard to catch up behind first and then recharged behind her before I just went for it and passed her. From then on I was in front, no mistakes and just ensured I had a decent lead on second. I didn't know how she paddled or if she would get a second wind so I was just always aware where she was and ensured that I had a safety net of distance. Well in the end I WON! And all was good. For the first time in a 10km race I drank ALL my water... incredible, it really was so HOT!
The guys went next and lucky for them they finished their race with sun going down and the temperature cooling off. Oh well!
Friday was the sprint races. Again we started in the afternoon but slightly earlier as we needed to get through heats of the course. The ladies had four heats and the men more as they had more people. The course had 3 turns and was somewhere between 500m and 1km long. It was not playing to my strengths at all but again it is all about positivity and learning. The first two heats were fine for me, I was in front and felt good. The final heat I had a little bit of a slow start off the gun and was not aggressive enough on my buoy turns. I got second and was okay with it as I knew it would secure my first place overall standing. It was good for me as I learned what I need to work on for the next races... I am stoked.
SO with a first and a second I placed FIRST OVERALL for my first ever World Series Race. YAY! I am stoked!
Saturday, in the morning Andreo and I and two of Andreo's friends went to Yas Waterworld to enjoy the rides... It was grand! It is so fun to feel like a little kid again! Later in the day we had some fun relay races at the Abu Dhabi Yacht and Sailing Club. After the fun it was time to get to work. Andreo and I packed the board, then repacked the board after getting some additional tape from Ikea, we had an adventure getting back from Ikea, then had to sort out bills at the hotel, pack my normal bags... by the time it was all said and done it was 1am and I was getting up at 4:30am to catch the taxi to the airport...
I enjoyed a much more pleasant plane ride home (not being sick helped a lot). Wow, what a place Abu Dhabi was.
Thank you to all people who made this possible for me... SIC Maui you make amazing boards, and are an amazing family. I feel so lucky to be a part of this team!
Werner Paddles, Nikki Rekman Sales, Season Five, Ryders Eyewear, Surffur, Crossfit Vancouver, Feed The Machine, ClifBar, Ultimate Potential, Kalavida Surf Shop, Larry Allsion Fins, OnIt Pro, Pro Lite THANK YOU for your support!
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