Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

60 seconds with: Annabel Anderson - world champion stand-up paddle boarder

Annabel Anderson.
Annabel Anderson.

How do you fill an average day when you're training?

Being in different places most weeks adds a few challenges to the daily schedule. In a typical day I'll wake up around 6am and brew some coffee to kick start the engine. Around 7am I'll hit the water for a 1.5 hour, interval-based workout either on flat water or at the beach... or hit the water for a surf. A couple of hours later I'll try to fit in a 45-60 minute circuit in a gym if I'm close to one or will hunt down some trails to run and stretch afterwards. Depending on where I am, I'll head out for a late afternoon session to go downwind paddling (surfing ocean swells with the wind at your back) or to surf again.

How do you start your day - eggs on toast?

There's nothing better than being rinsed in salt water to kick off one's appetite for the day. Scrambled eggs, lots of spinach and my signature coconut kumara and one of my smoothie specials on the side hits the spot.

Your website states: "At high school it was a juggling act between horses, tennis, athletics and ski racing until it all came to a crushing halt when her left leg shattered in a skiing accident." Tell us about the process which led you to stand up paddling?

After finding myself landlocked in London and seeing the rowers make their way up and down the River Thames each morning and afternoon, I thought, "That paddle thing would be a pretty fun way to get my water fix in the concrete jungle of central London. It would take 10 months and a chance meeting with the head coach of the London Rowing Club to make the vision a reality. They called me the 'silver surfer' and I called it my serenity in the city.

Have you ever been tempted to hiff the paddle and surf the wave in? Is it allowed?

One of the few rules of the sport is that you must cross the finish with your paddle in hand. There have been occasions when I've seen both girls and boys get a little unlucky and throw a tanty before they cross the finish line. In those situations I'm more than sure they would be more than willing to fling their paddle as far as possible and simply surf a wave into the beach, or break it ... as some have been witnessed to do.

How do you avoid jostling at the start?

There is no avoidance, you just have to get your head around it. I have seen some of my fellow female competitors complain about bumping of boards, but it's the reality of a close contact sport. Everyone is gunning for the same position in the front, paddles will clash, boards will bump.

Ever had to negotiate any dodgy flotsam and jetsam or maybe a shark?

I'm pleased to report that most of my frequent oceanic creature encounters have been with whales, seals and dolphins but the reality remains that we share the ocean with many others and that we should not fear them. The truly scary thing that I see most prevalently is the trash and foreign objects that wind up in the ocean. It's the centre of our food chain and we need to start to take much better care of it.

Describe getting fin-kissed in Bali?

It was a biggish day at Canngu, a well known left-hander in Bali. I was punching out through what seemed like walls of water in front of me. On one such wall, I launched up the white water in an attempt to get over the top and my board missiled into the air. As it came down the fins got me in the centre of my back. I've still got a scar from that one.

How will the sport develop in the next five years?

The World Tour and other major events will go from strength to strength with live webcasting bringing the action to audiences around the world and we'll see established international events get even bigger. Professionalism will grow as will amateur participation and we'll see more people travelling to experience new places and to share their passion and a new breed of ocean/water sports athletes are discovered. SUP will become recognised as a high-performance sport under Sport NZ, making services and athlete development pathways available to the likes of myself rather than having to go unsupported.

- NZ Herald

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