Some positive news in these strange and uncertain times! Just before the entire world went into lockdown this month UK surfer and FORM team rider Melissa Reid clinched her 2nd world title at the 2020 ISA Para Surfing Games held in La Jolla California. It is an amazing achievement cementing Melissa's name in the surfing history books and flying the flag for UK surfing. Obviously the crew here at FORM are super stoked on Melissa's performance and achievement on the FORM High Line and ADPT surfboard models.
On her return to the UK we sat down with Melissa to get a little insight into her training leading up to the event, her board choices and competing for another world title.
Being an experienced competitor now and having already won a World Para Surfing title did you approach this event in a different way to last time and how did your experience affect your training leading up to the event?
"This time I took a very different approach knowing the competition standards and having some experience.
We had training sessions in place before the contest with heat simulation. We then had a good discussion on tactics for each heat and final depending on the waves and situation. This year I was way more prepared. Also having a good relationship in place with Matt (my eyes) made it much easier as we knew how to work together".
This time mentally you must have gone into the event knowing that you could win a world title, did this help build your confidence?
"Having won the previous world title I had confidence that I could perform again this year, however there was a lot more pressure as everyone knew me and were aiming to take my title away. I also don’t get quite as much surf practice as the others as I’m still training for the Paralympics".
Do you get nervous before and during an event and how do you deal with nerves and the pressure to perform?
"I get a little nervous but I try to channel that into positive energy. Having competed for 8 years on the international stage I have found what works for me, before a heat I will distance myself and watch the ocean for 30mins to an hour. I will also sit with Matt my eyes and go through our heat strategy. I will do this before every heat and final".
Talk to us about equipment. What board were you riding during the event and why did you choose to ride it? Your boards are custom made, have you had to adjust any of your equipment specifically to suit your surfing style and how did this affect performance?
"I used both my custom board during the event. In the heats I used my HighLine as a quad fin as the waves were very weak and small. We decided this was best as it picks up and keeps speed well. Scoring an 8 which was the highest women’s score.
In the final the tide was in our favour where the swell picked up slightly and there was more shape to the wave, I was extremely keen to use my ADPT as I love riding the board and it turns amazing. The conditions still didn’t favour my surfing as it was still extremely small, we were holding off for a set wave and with two minutes to go we were in prime position. Getting the best left handed of the day I scored a 9.17.
Sprinting back out to try and get one more wave the score came through and we knew we had won".
What are the biggest challenges you face when going surfing and how have you overcome these?
"My biggest challenge surfing is getting to beaches as I have to rely on others as I can’t drive. Also wave selection if I’m surfing on my own, I tend to sit off to the side and paddle when others paddle. I have always loved going surfing and being in the water so have a feel for the ocean which has helped".
What other athletes do you admire and why do they inspire you?
"I admire Bethany Hamilton for not letting her disability effect her life. I also admire the determination and passion of Michael Phelps".
Who is your favourite surfer and why?
"Jamie O’Brien as he surfs for the love of surfing and enjoyed the ocean no matter what".
Are you just getting started or will you stop at two world titles? How many World Titles would you like to win?
"I am just getting started, I’d still say I surf for enjoyment and competing is just for fun now. I would like to continue competing till surfing is in the Paralympic Games. I would like to get six world titles as that is the current record in ParaSurfing".
What advice would you give anyone with a disability out there that is thinking about getting into a new sport or maybe competing in one that they are good at?
"I would advise them to give it ago, there is so much support out there now for individuals with a disability to take part in sport. And when it comes to competing I’d say go for it, contact the governing body of the sport and they can point you in the right direction for specific competitions".
The growth and visibility of The World Para Surfing Championships has inspired a global movement for para surfing, with surfings inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games do you hope that soon para surfing will be included in the Paralympic Games? Given your track record in the ISA Champs we are sure you will win an Olympic medal but what would it take to win gold?
"I really hope that ParaSurfing will be a Paralympic sport either Paris 2024 or Los Angeles 2028. It would be great to see not only a judge sport but also an extreme sport in the Paralympics. My goal would be to win the Paralympic gold but who knows what will happen in that time and how much the sport will progress.
Well congratulations from everyone at FORM Melissa and all the best for all of your upcoming events! You can check out the HIGHLINE and ADPT models that Melissa surfed to victory plus the full FORM collection exclusively at Boardshop UK