Viana De Castello, Portugal
What an amazing competition and overall event! Surf Clube de Viana was the host of the first European championships. I was not roughing it here. From the Mercedes rental, high performance center to the Hotel feel Viana, this competition was stylish and cush. Thehigh performance center was just a walk away from the hotel on the road or on the raised board walk around the beach to preserve the eco system and sand dunes. It was made of cork, a material harvested in the area and it had a gym, board/equipment storage under the building, PT service, Massage service, dorm rooms, kitchen and best of all a sleek modern feel. It made me want to workout and push my abilities. Surfing is in the curriculum in the school system and many school kids and elite athletes train together. The adaptive surfers were integrated with the other athletes and it was very inclusive.
After contacting the head, they were so excited to host me as opened their door to Amanda and I to train and hang. Speeches and Speeches...I was asked to speak 2 times to athletes and a general volunteer training. Toward the end, I was also asked to be interviewed for a document story. We had meetings with ISA to develop a unified classification system and we got to question and share the up and coming in daily forums.
Brrrrrrrrrr....Let's talk about brain and face freeze. I wore a 5mm suite that felt like I was being bear hugged and I could barely breathe. I was stuck and Amanda had to rescue me from my suit. The waves were glassy in the morning and blown out in the afternoon. This beach break and high tide spot made for short days on the water. I competed in the AS-4 division with the guys and saw Marcos Tapia's awesome board fashioned after a boogie board in action. He absolutely rips.
The city center was filled with historic charm with just the right amount of modern amenities. Food was absolutely yummy. Bread, butter, cheese, and fresh fruits and vegetables. I integrated seamlessly with the people even though they are on Portuguese time. The cherry on the top was at the closing ceremony where we all danced the night away at a small dinner, dancehall near the hotel. What a trip where the people of Viana were educated, hard workers and absolutely passionate of what they did. They embraced me and made me feel like a queen.