SUP International Magazine catch up with Aussie wave guru Shakira Westdorp for this exclusive interview on what she has been up to over the past months!
PHOTOS: Starboard and APP Carter
SUP INT:Tell us where you are now and what you have been up to over the last few months?
SW:I’m at home in Australia. I have been working and building a house, so I actually been really busy.
SUP INT: Are you still getting in the water?
SW: I haven’t had a lot of water time ( well as much as I would normally) because I’ve been too busy, but finishing up the house in the next couple of weeks so will have some time to get back to normal soon. We have had some good waves lately so looking forward to getting salty again.
SUP INT: What did you learn from the APP tour events last season?
SW: That I let myself down in heats with my wave selection
SUP INT: Do you make enough money from being an athlete or do you do any other work besides stand up?
SW: No, I work full time as a firefighter at home and have to juggle annual leave and shift swaps to be able to attend the events. They are very supportive but means when I’m home I work a lot to pay back shifts I owe.
I am though, extremely fortunate to be sponsored by two of the best SUP companies, Starboard and Quickblade. I receive product and some budget for travel which helps a lot!! But it doesn’t cover the costs of competing and traveling for the year.
Unfortunately, Australia is as far away as you can get from most of the events making our airfares pretty expensive and our dollar is usually not so good against the USD or the EURO so that doesn’t help much.
But in the end, I do it for the love of it and take the wealth of experiences, opportunities, travel and friendships and work my ass off when I get home to do it all again.
SUP INT: How friendly is the atmosphere between all the girls on tour?
SW: It’s a pretty cool atmosphere really. Everyone is very respectful of one another and happy for each other’s success. We are all competitive on the water but it’s a friendly atmosphere on land and everyone is there to help each other out.
SUP INT: What was your high and low point last season?
SW: Hmm, probably ISA El Salvador. I was a bee’s dick from taking my 4th consecutive world title……. so high and low point, I guess. Low point because high stake loses like that hurt, I was disappointed for sure as it was like 0.33, I lost by. High point because I was 2nd and that’s fairly good too.
SUP INT: Do you thrive on SUP competition or do you prefer free surfing?
SW: I do enjoy competing and the feeling of winning and achieving your goals. I am a competitive person and have competed in some form of sport my whole life but there is nothing better than being on a surf trip, having the session of your life with pumping waves!!!!! Not worrying about letting sick waves go by cause of priority and not having to come in cause the hooter blew, and your heat is over or not getting the score so you can’t surf again. Free surfing is everyday life!!
SUP INT: Do you like big heavy waves or do you prefer fun size surf where you can be more aggressive?
SW: Both I guess. At home I would surf if it got solid and SUP in most other conditions. If I had to choose, I would say fun size cause you can surf all day, not get beat up of held down and improve on manoeuvres.
SUP INT: Do you have any tips for girls wanting to start competing in the waves at the highest level?
SW: Yeah do it for sure. It’s a lot of fun. You get to see parts of the world you may not have even thought about. Get to surf great waves with only a couple out when in heats.
Set yourself some goals of events you wish to attend and work toward getting there, physically, mentally and financially then when your there remember to have fun.
SUP INT: Do you follow any type of diet and what is it?
SW: No not really. I generally eat a pretty well-balanced diet so not worried to have ‘bad’ foods every now and again. I do enjoy a few beers at the end of the day though.
SUP INT: What other interests do you have?
SW: I enjoy mountain biking, fishing and drinking beer.
SUP INT: What sort of physical training do you do between events?
Biking, yoga and circuit training.
SUP INT: How many events do you normally compete at during a season?
SW: Probably about 10 or so. Including events in AUS, APP events and ISA
SUP INT: How are you dealing with the Corona situation mentally?
SW: For me not too much has changed at the moment. Australia didn’t have strict lockdown laws like some other countries. Some work practices have changed but as I said before I’ve been so busy of late, I haven’t done anything but work and build my house anyway. It is sad to see so many deaths on a global scale. I feel incredibly lucky to be living in Australia at this time.
SUP INT: Does it worry you?
SW: To a degree for sure. Not so much for me but my friends and family that fall into the high-risk category’s. I guess and the chance of this type of thing happening again with worse outcomes. The whole world has been brought to its knees.
SUP INT: Do you miss the travel right now?
SW: To be honest I have enjoyed not having to travel and compete at the moment because of building my house and been able to focus all my time, energy and money into it but once it’s all done I’m sure I’ll get itchy feet.
SUP INT: Do you think you will be competing again this season?
SW: I’m not too sure. I think some events may be able to go ahead but I have doubts Australians will be allowed to exit the country. They are only talking about a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand in September. We have only a few hundred active cases here at the moment and none in NZ and I don’t think they will want us traveling to the US or Europe and bringing back another round of Corona. Time will tell but fingers crossed we can!!
SUP INT: What ambitions do you have as a SUP athlete?
SW: I wanted to be World Champion and I was able to achieve that. I haven’t taken out the APP yet so that was going to be this year’s goal. I would like to help encourage others to participate in events too to help our sport grow and develop so it can continue into the future.
SUP INT: Why do you love SUP?
SW: It’s just another fun way to be in the ocean and there are so many elements to SUP. Performance surfing, flat water fun and fishing, downwinders, foiling, going down river rapids. SUP has taken me around the world and I have loved every minute.
SUP INT: Three Words to Live by?
SW: How about 3 x 3 ha ha!
Life is short!
Make it fun!!
Drink good beer!!!