N200|GES: As a UK athlete, what’s it like competing on the world scene?
Holly: Competing in the UK can be particularly testing at times when you can see your competitors out in decent-sized, clean surf nearly every day, in some of the most exotic places around the world. But I don’t have the liberty to decide when I go surfing; if the conditions are remotely “okay” I’ll be out.
N200|GES: How do you go about funding your international travel for these events?
Holly: Unless you have a sponsor who is willing to pay for you to fly off and go surfing to a different destination each month – then those of us who do not surf for our profession day in day out – find it hard to make ends meet, in relation to getting to these competitions we so badly want to go to. So this year, I decided to create an athlete page with MAKEACHAMP.com and within the first few days of it going live I had my first contributor: Matt Coyne. And over the course of three months not only did I have many generous contributions on my campaign to get me to the Worlds, but I also made connections with N200lGES and they gave me a significant sum to back me; with this I exceeded my target of raising £3000 to get me to the ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championships in Sayulita, Mexico.
N200|GES: And how did you get on in the Worlds event?
Holly: I want to thank all those who contributed* to getting me to this event and to all my regular sponsors too. Regardless of the amount, each and every person who supported me through this process helped me achieve above and beyond the goals I had set myself and now with a World ranking of 16th I am even more grateful for it.
N200|GES: How do you find the time to train?
Holly: Alongside my crowd-funding page, I was in the middle of my AS Levels – my time was limited due to school related commitments and recovering from three months of glandular fever, and I found my training hours had decreased rapidly. In order to prepare myself best for the Worlds, I had to take it easy, slowly building back up to the level of training I had been doing beforehand. My training was based around strength and power; I did loads of static work, relating to core balance and strength and I also went spinning and running weekly to maintain a basic level of stamina and endurance to apply to my surfing. As ‘people of the water’, we can prepare ourselves physically to the best of our ability but we cannot prepare ourselves to what will be thrown at us when in the ocean. So my approach was to prepare myself the best I could physically with training and as many hours on the water as possible, whenever there was even a chance of a small wave.
N200|GES: So it’s takes up a lot of time? If we wanted to turn pro tomorrow, how long would it take us?
Holly: It’s insane to think it supposedly takes 20 hours to acquire the basic ability to do anything, be it a sport like paddlesurfing or any other skill like that, but with hundreds of hours invested, maybe even thousands, the level of competition each year is raised even higher. When I was in Mexico the ability of each and every athlete out there had improved massively from previous years and it was clear to see that the potential of the sport keeps increasing along with all of its competitors. This years ISA Worlds has only made me consider my own potential with even more hours invested. My advice to you would be to give up the day job and get out on the water today!