The Basque Country and Zane Schweitzer!
It’s been an exciting month in the European SUP Racing scene with Starboard winning just about all races! Our Starboard riders have been training hard all year, it’s paying off and one rider in particular, Zane Schweitzer, is having the time of his life. Zane hit the ground running in 2013 after overcoming an illness in 2012 and he is now a dominant force in not only on the SUP surf tour, but on the racing tour as well. He has his own Zane Schweitzer Morning Show during the tour stops and can be seen supporting his teammates on every leg of the tour – A true sportsman and friend!
Zane, in his own words, takes us on his journey through Basque Country this past month… and you can catch all his morning shows here: http://immersedtv.com/videos/zane-schweitzer-european-road-show-episode-3
In Zane’s own words:
European Road Show – Oleron, France and Bilbao, Spain – The Basque Country
This time around the Waterman League, Stand Up World Series takes us to the beautiful Basque Country of Europe, to compete in the Oleron Stand Up Paddle Challenge and the Bilbao World SUP Challenge!
The Waterman League has given me the opportunity to share my personality and travels by hosting a lot of the events this year and this time we are having fun and taking advantage of our three week stay; broadcasting the Zane Schweitzer European Road Show through Europe for Major TV Stations including NBC Sports in the US, Fuel TV in New Zealand and Austrailia, and EuroSports 2 in Europe. The Waterman League always does such a great job with promotion and sharing the amazing things we do with the world on Tour, and I am honored to be an ambassador for the Waterman League!
Our first stop of this trip started in Bilbao, where I met with the Production crew of the Waterman League; Christian Henning and Onil Diaz, and we started our road trip towards Oleron France!
It was a long drive through the country side, but 6 hours later we crossed the bridge from the Mainland of France to the biggest island of the West coast of France, Oleron Island.
We arrived the day before the competition and it was time to rest, and get everything ready for the weekend of competition. The Oleron SUP Challenge is known for the long and brutal 30km distance race along the coast of the island, and as well an exciting arena for Surf Race Sprints through the reefs and surf; but this year the weather conditions did not allow us to have the usual Competition. Race Director, Didier Lafite made a smart call to shorten the distance race because of dangerous weather condition; rain, wind and lightning. On that note the long distance race had a change of course, just in front of the event site in the big bay we were to paddle a minimum of 8 km. The race day was gnarly, windy and chopped up conditions, tough conditions for any paddler, but Connor Baxter and Kai Lenny were in battle mode switching from 1st to 2nd, in the end Kai won the Distance race and Connor finished 2nd. I had a shocker of race for my standards, finishing in 12th behind some of Europes, and the worlds fastest paddlers. I may have been in a much better position if I had a different board, but I packed for what was expected, a surf race and down winder.
The Next day the Sprint Races were underway, with very similar condition, chopped up from every directing and windy. It was freezing but we were able to stay warm while racing keeping up the blood flow. I had a great day of competition up until the semifinals, were I buckled my paddle, and had to compete in the Consolation Final. At this point, I was In full support for my best friend and team mate Connor Baxter, cheering him on and hoping for him to finish on top! This whole year Kai and Connor get 1st, then 2nd, where they then need to have a tie breaker, so I was hoping for Connor to come our on top off course be ready for a tie breaker. But Casper Steinfeld, Denmarks most popular paddler and a great paddler world wide had a stellar performance, finishing in 2nd just behind Connor, so a tie breaker was not needed. Starboard took it all once again With Connor Baxter finishing as the overall champion of the Oleron SUP Challenge and Annabel Anderson taking it all for the Women, and not to mention also giving a lot of the men a run for their money!!
Casper is such a great friend, and an amazing personality, always radiating with joy for life and positive energy! He has really made a name for him self this year on tour, having some amazing finishes and currently tied for 3rd place overall for the year with me! Connor and I always love meeting back up with Casper to have good times and good sessions on the water!
Next Stop, Basque, Birratze France.
The Basque Country is the first place people inhabited in Europe, with the oldest language and Culture in Europe, there is so many amazing places and wonderful people to meet. I am very happy to experience this part of Europe; with amazing coastlines filled with empty surf breaks, epic food, and people that remind me of being home in Hawaii; respecting and practicing the old ways and culture is very important to the People of the Basque.
We drove from Oleron to Birratz with Christian, Onil and Annabel Anderson planning to find some fun surf for the Road Show and meet up with local legends, Peyo Lizarazu and Xabi Lafite! Our first day in the lovely town of Birratz was awesome, the whole coastline was firing with waves, but we are on our way to one of the oldest cathedrals in the area to watch Peyo and his father perform in their Basque Quire team Concert! The history that these Churches radiate is amazing, so much energy and insane crafts man ship are put into these massive, elegant Cathedrals; carved with intricate designs and stained the massive colorful glass that tells a story.
The Next we were up ready to surf, after a long weekend of racing in Oleron and no surf for the last few days I was throttling to catch a few!! We surfed at Guethary, and scored some awesome waves with no one out!! I really enjoyed this area, and loved the landscape, with rolling hills and mountains coming all the way to the beaches, similar to Hawaii, I felt at home. It was the same thing for the next two days, surfing and filming all over Birratz and having a good time experiencing what the town has to offer.
Our next stop on the Road Trip was in Hossegor, one of the most world class famous waves in Europe, it was only about 45 minutes from Biarrtz but it felt like ages with all of my excitement knowing that theres a solid swell and we are on our way to one of the most renown beach breaks in the world! We pulled up and it was crazy, pounding waves with solid close out barrels all up and down the massive beach that was scattered with families and naked people soaking up the sun. haha..
After a long session getting rattled in pounding closeouts and sand in every crack and crevasse of my body we headed back towards Bidart, for our next session. We were starving after a long day in the sun at Hossegor so we stopped for a bite to eat right across from Bidart Beach where we were planning to surf after.. I love the food in France, but in the Basque the food has much more culture and awesome recipes! We finished lunch and rounded the corner back to where our car was parked; at that moment my heart dropped to the ground and I was filled with rage to see that all of our Surf boards were stolen off the roof of our rental car.. We searched around for hours, made police reports but most importantly spread the world with the local boys, Peyo and Xabi, and as well made Facebook posts to let everyone know what happened.. We got so much support from all around the world, sharing photos of our boards, spreading the word and keeping an eye out for the one of a kind 7’1″ x 24″ InZane SUP Surf board.. This is was such a shocker, my favorite board, that I have been using in competition for the World Tour, has been stolen by probably some surfer who thought it was a surf board.. Annabel’s 7’7″ x 27″ Sean Poynter Pro model was also stolen, this is a production board, so it may be a bit harder to find, but I am sure that my 7’1″ InZane Pro board will show up, with so the whole paddle community world wide keeping an eye out for the one of a kind board.. This board will be part of the Starboard line up as my Promodel and Pro Kids board by September of this year.
You can’t live on the past, and theres is nothing else to do but get back to reality and enjoy our the rest of our trip, thankfully I still have my race board to have some sessions on and train on for next weekends Bilbao World SUP Challenge! Xabi also was kind enough to lend me a board to use for the next two days in Biarritz before heading to Bilbao!
It was difficult to get my mind around the fact that my board was gone, but I am sure it will turn up at some point.. A friend of a Friend in Mexico contacted his good buddy who ownes a 7’4″ Starboard Zane Schweitzer Pro Model, to request if I could borrow the his personal board for the next few days in the Basque before the Races in the weekend.. He was happy to lend me the board, and was nice enough to drive hours all the way to Bilbao, to meet with me and hand it off!! We continued the Zane Schweitzer Road Show with an adventure touring through the Basque and getting a few more surf sessions in before the Bilbao Races..
When we arrived to Bilbao we met with Connor Baxter and the Big Waters Surf club, that made the Bilbao World SUP Challenge possible.. They showed us a beautiful tour of the city and took us out for an awesome lunch, we then got settled into our new zone at Barrika Surf Camp to get ready for some more surf sessions!! The wind was strong and it was pretty rainy, but we got some fun waves Spain.
The Bilbao World SUP Challenge was huge, the event was organized to the finest, and people from all over the country came to enjoy and spectate the event right in the middle of the city of Bilbao taking place on the river! The first day of the event was Distance leg of the Competition, with an 18km course up and down the river! It was a gnarly race, up wind and then back down wind, then back up Wind to the finish, we had a lot of motivation from the locals following us on bicycles and cheering the 100+ competitors on!! Once again, the level of talent was impressive here for the Stand Up World Series leg in the Basque with Europes Top athletes and some of the worlds best. I had a game plan and a vision to give it my all in this event, I was feeling great with my board, and powered out the distance race finishing in 4th place!!
The Next day it was game time, for me I was excited to conquer the course race, as this is always what I favor and excel in.. Connor and I were cheering each other on in each heat and it was a battle through to the finals, with the whole city at the event sight enjoying the beautiful weather and awesome race! The Sprints are always very exciting, you can never underestimate anybody.. I won each of my heats up until the semi final, where I place 2nd to continue onto the stacked Final!!
The adrenaline at the heat format course sprints is immense, I love the silence before the start, then on the judges call, the chaos begins! I gave it my all and managed to place 2nd just behind Connor Baxter for my best finish yet in a Stand Up World Series event, with a combined score from the distance and the Sprints I finished 2nd in the entire event!!
In the end, its Mind over Matter.. After some crazy ups and downs in Europe, Im back in the United States of AmERica! The European leg of the Stand Up World Series trip was wild, Boards getting stolen, iPhone left charging in Madrid, Car surfing through Bilbao at 4am, scoring epic waves and experienced the amazing Basque Culture.. I am so grateful to have fulfilled and exceeded my goals and expectations at the last stop of the SUWS, Finishing 2nd overall in the Bilbao World SUP Challenge; with a gnarly 18km Distance course and a balls to the walls Sprint Race! That puts me in 3rd for the years overall tour, my best standing yet in the Stand Up World Series !! Gotta keep it up now!!
Congratulations Zane on a great month and good luck the rest of the season!