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Maria Andres’ Interview : windsurf and travel

New interview today, and not the least ! The Sportihome team went to meet Maria Andres, a Spanish windsurfer. Maria Andres confided in the magazine about her daily life as a sportswoman, her prize list and her future… To discover her portrait, go right here !👇

Maria Andres, windsurf lover

maria andres windsurf© Fish Bowl Diaries

Hello Marias Andres, could you introduce yourself and talk a little bit about your sport?

I am Maria Andres, I was born in Cadiz, in the South of Spain. At that time my dad and brothers were learning to windsurf. When I was 8, my brothers founded a Windsurfing School and I was lucky to learn to windsurf when the boards from the school were available. Since then, I am completely addicted to ride. My windsurfing passion came from my brothers’s side, and from my sister’s side, she is an anthropologist, I got my love for traveling and observation. Through windsurfing, I found the perfect way to fulfill both my passions, the freedom and adrenaline in the water, and the adventurer side when traveling to new spots. Now, I am a Professional windsurfer focused on waveriding, and a travel writer for Windsurf and SUP Magazines from all around the world.

How did you discover this discipline?

After my first steps windsurfing with my brothers, I began my competitive windsurf career at the age of 13, with a focus on Olympic Class racing.  I was a member of the Spanish Olympic Team in 2002-2003, before turning my focus to Formula and Slalom Racing. Then, my career took a new turn when I discovered the world of wavesailing. Since I discovered it, first in videos, then in real life in Morocco, I was fascinated. I got myself a wave board and started to travel looking for waves to learn. Since then, I have been traveling the world in search of the best waves and wind to push my own limits, as well as competing on the International Windsurfing Tour.

From his beginnings at the international level

maria andres wind surf

What are the reasons that made you continue this sport?

When I was very young, I found in windsurfing a way to get out of the « normal » life or « routine ». To get out of « my little world », to go out and explore new places and meet people doing something I loved! I realized that by training hard I got the opportunity to be part of the national team and earn the chance to compete abroad. Imagine being 13 and having this opportunity, of course I wanted to continue! I loved racing and I got into the windsurfing life naturally. I started to compete, to travel, and to be a member of the Olympic team… But I confess that it was when I discovered wavesailing that I knew there was no way back! Hahaha. At the same time, I also began with PWA Slalom competitions, since I was more familiar with that kind of windsurfing competition format, and got lucky to get some sponsors to keep going. And in between races, I used every chance to get and learn more in the waves, then I got into wave competitions too! Meanwhile, I was always producing content and articles for international magazines, both windsurfing and SUP… And this is the life that I love, so there was no way I wouldn’t continue! Haha.

Could you explain your training? 

Since we depend on the sea conditions, especially for wave riding, I need to use every single time that it is possible to train in the waves. I try to sail as much as possible in my home spot and surrounding areas, Los Caños de Meca, a place that I love and we get a lot of different conditions for all kinds of windsurf disciplines! But I also do short trips to score the right conditions, such as to Portugal or Galicia, as well as spending a few months in wave spots that work more consistently at different times of the year, such as Maui, Peru, Mauritius… it depends on my competition schedule, but Maui is a must on my calendar since many years.  Once on the water, depending on the conditions, I set daily goals to work on, and try to be focused and productive. I tend to spend too many hours in the water and then I lose power and concentration, so I’m working on making shorter sessions, more intense and more focused. 

When we get waves but no wind, I always go surfing or SUPing. I think it’s not only a great sport, but it also makes you feel comfortable in the water in big waves or currents, and for sure, it teaches you to read the waves, that will help so much when windsurfing in waves!

On land, depending on what I have done in the water and how tired I am, I adapt my training. I usually train at home and outside, and have my routines to work on the muscles that I didn’t work in the water, to balance my body and prevent injuries. Since my activities depend on the weather, I keep the training plans very open and adaptable.

If you had to give us three arguments in favor of your sport, what would it be?

Feelings/Lessons : A sport that uses the energy of wind and waves?? Isn’t it amazing? What hooked me on windsurfing was for sure the feelings of freedom, that adrenaline and euphoria when going fast, making a good turn or jumping, the joy of just gliding on the water’s surface or that amazing connection when riding a beautiful wave that will forever disappear after that. Watersports in general bring so much joy, but in my opinion, when it is on waves, there is a strong connection to nature and to learn and go with the flow, to have self-confidence but also to be humble, to be patient… Very strong lessons that work in life too… the ability to stay alert and to adapt, because, in reality the playing field is always changing due to the swells power, direction, period, the changing bottoms, the tides, wind directions… at the end, there is no spot that works always the same, that means that there are never 2 equal waves, so you have got to keep adapting your ride. I find it fascinating. It makes it very attractive and entertaining.  

Never ending : Another reason I love it is that Windsurfing is an endless sport. Even the best athlete is continuously learning. I think this is part of why it is so addictive! The aim for improvement. Everyone is learning at their own rhythm, and there is always something new to learn… 

Travel : And as I said, while searching for good waves or competing, windsurfing is a great « excuse » to keep traveling, exploring new places and cultures, meeting amazing people and experiencing new things. It is a whole lifestyle that I wouldn’t change for anything.

What is your palmares? 

1st – Overall IWT Wave World Tour 2019

Vice World Champion – IFCA Slalom 2015

4th – PWA Slalom World Cup Tour Overall 2014

2nd – Overall IWT Wave World Tour 2018

3rd – IFCA Slalom World Championship 2014

3rd – European Championship Formula Windsurfing 2006

Vice World Champion – Raceboard 2000

AWSI Female Windsurfer of the Year 2019

1st – IWT Wave Matanzas and Topocalma, Chile 2018 and 2019

1st – IWT Pacasmayo Classic, Peru 2019

5th – PWA Wave World Tour Morocco 2018

1st – IWT Wave Baja California, Mexico, 2018

7x Spanish Champion – Formula Windsurfing

4x Spanish Champion – Slalom

5x Spanish Champion – Waves

Spanish Olympic Team 2002-2003

5th – Mediterranean Games 2001

Maria’s Performances and Best Memories

maria andres wind surfing© Antonio Herrera Trujillo

Can you tell us about your main achievements as well as your personal records? 

Being able to live as a windsurfing athlete and never giving up on this dream is already something that makes me proud. Following a dream and getting to achieve it is always something to celebrate! Regarding event results and so, sometimes it is not the top results that are the ones you are most proud of, but what they meant to you at that moment. For example, the 4th at the PWA Slalom World Cup in New Caledonia was my best ever result in a Slalom PWA, and those days due to family health issues, I wasn’t even sleeping… so that result is very emotional to me. The IWT Wave World Tour victory I take also as a very emotional one, since completing the tour wasn’t always easy, having to live many months in a van, 9 months on the road away from home, with a suitcase and 3 board bags and not much budget. Got sick many times because of the stress and food and water. At the end of the year, I was exhausted, I almost could not compete in the final event and after winning I was sick for months after that. Dealing with all of this and achieving the target was a personal achievement itself and for all that is hidden behind the result.

What is your best memory related to your sport?

It is hard to choose! Some places are paradise, and some trips with my friends have been unforgettable, like so many times with Lena Erdil, she is just so fun to travel with! The Universe just delivers when we are together! Hahaha. But the last IWT Tour together with my boyfriend and best friend Tom Soltysiak, surfing the best waves in the world, connecting spot after spot and living the dream while camping in Baja California in Mexico, in Topocalma in Chile or in Oregon was indescribably amazing. Getting to surf endless waves in Pacasmayo and surfing alone with pelicans, driving in our van from Oregon to Baja… To then finish off that year of adventure by winning the IWT Wave World Tour was a dream come true! And to me, it was not only the success of winning… it was the first time that a Windsurfing Tour had equal prize money for men and women, so to me it was like winning in a historic moment of achievement for windsurfing women.

Can you tell us about the worst moment of your career and what it brought you for the future?

There are always some difficult moments, frustrations, situations where you will think or you will know that things are unfairly done, and when you are very young, you don’t have the tools to fight for that. Also, not getting to classify for the Olympics was hard, I was 18 and I thought I was too old to try again, haha, now I would have told my past self that life was only starting!… But it offered me the chance to discover wavesailing, so looking back on it today it was the chance to start a new chapter and to move on to what is my passion to this day! There is always a positive end! There were moments while competing abroad that were very hard for me to be far from family and to keep focused, as once my dad was dying in the hospital, and I was on the other side of the planet… in the end he recovered and survived… and I was so shocked and mentally totally awake (even though not sleeping the nights), that somehow I did my best ever result in a Slalom World Cup PWA. And definitely a very tough one was once I injured my foot and I was told that I wouldn’t be able to walk properly and that I had to forget about windsurfing… At that exact moment, I realized how important windsurfing was for me. That was a new beginning, I trained like never before, recovered my foot, started to compete in Slalom and started to find sponsors, and my windsurfing career started stronger than ever.

When windsurfing takes you around the world

windsurf spot© Toby Bromwich

If you could only practice on one spot, which one would you choose and why?

I would choose Ho’okipa on Maui, because of its changing conditions. In the same spot during the year you get big and small waves, strong and light winds and side on, side shore or side off wind direction. Ho’okipa is different every hour and that makes it very entertaining and very amazing to work on your skills and to improve. The only downside is that it is almost always starboard tack conditions (wind from the right), and I am actually goofy-footed, so my natural side is the opposite…haha.  The water is clear, there is grass to rig and hang out, the wind is not annoying when at the beach, and the landscapes and nature is just so stunning!! There are whales, dolphins and rainbows…. It’s a piece of paradise!

What are your next challenges and goals?

In 2022 I plan to compete in some PWA and IWT Wave events. I am very motivated for the event in Peru, with the endless lefts of perfection in Pacasmayo, a spot that I love and were I have competed 3 times, and the last time I manage to win it! And I am extra motivated for the IWT Grand Final in Hawaii, the legendary Aloha Classic on Maui! I have competed there several times, both for PWA and IWT tours and it is always fun and challenging, the level in the women fleet is high and they are all super women that inspire me so much! I’m going for some training in April and May and then in October, I’ll try to defend the IWT tittle! 

My other plans are related to creating content. I’ll keep writing travel articles for magazines. I have some destinations in mind, a few outside Europe, and some in the Mediterranean. I love to capture the best of everywhere in photos and to spend enough time discovering the spots and the culture to fully live the atmosphere and vibes and to be able to share my experience, as well as to give tips for travelers wanting to explore these same places. I share my experiences not only in print magazines, but also online and through my social media channels. I like to think that maybe I can inspire some people to enjoy their home spots, but also to travel more and to experience new and exciting places. I’d love to motivate people to live life to the fullest and to stop postponing dreams and projects. Since there is never the perfect moment, the moment is (or can be) now, right? Hahaha.

What do you think you will do during the next five years?

I’ll keep traveling to keep writing articles. And what motivates me a lot are some projects that I have for now that I will hopefully make a reality in the next few years. The goal would be to help youth and women get into watersports and to make it more accessible for them, giving them the chance to improve and to have more opportunity to, if they wish, turn that passion into becoming a professional athlete. 

Thank you Maria Andres for this exchange ! We hope to see you soon on the French spots by staying with our owners who are passionate about sports!

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