Reaching the ultimate goal in competitive windsurfing means a life purely dedicated to the sport. There is no half measured approach, there can be no slacking and you need to be lucky to avoid injury whilst pushing the level. It goes without saying that whilst the journey can be non-stop, costly and involve a vast amount of travelling, the rewards reaped from such adventures are, for those who chose it, priceless. Money cannot buy what our sports top athletes experience, yes it might help you get some of the way there, but raw talent puts the icing on the cake. For Arrianne Aukes her dream as a child was to make the PWA podium, and for sure she still aspires to one more final goal within freestyle windsurfing, the very pinnacle of the podium. To get there she will have to beat the slightly intimidating force, by way of her sheer quantity of world titles, that is Sarah-Quita Offringa.

The day before we left, Corsica was still on the cards but as the wind shifted Leucate looked suddenly more attractive

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We were faced by mast high sections and 40 plus knots...

LAST MINUTE DECISIONS

The Idea has been a long time coming! as a young girl me and my family always travelled by camper to different surf spots, so I knew that one day I wanted to revisit a lot of these places again. It just so happened that this summer I was free from studying and my boyfriend had just finished his contract so we could literally go where the wind would take us! We worked for three months in the UK to save for the trip and were lucky enough to be able to borrow the van from my parents. The actual route was pretty vague, all we knew was that we wanted to be in the Canaries for the competitions, so apart from that it was a case of checking windguru and getting advice from friends about where to sail when. The day before we left, Corsica was still on the cards but as the wind shifted Leucate looked suddenly more attractive, that was the story of the trip and it seemed to work out pretty well in the end.

The Dream Team - Arrianne Aukes and boyfriend/chief caddy James Hoare

PREPARING FOR 1000's of KILOMETRES

Preparations for the trip were all pretty late on! As I said we were lucky enough to already have a van, after a few days of DIY modifications to the inside we built storage for sails, masts, booms, etc. We searched for a roof rack and a lot of straps to tie things down on top so we could sleep inside! It was more a case of learning as we went along concerning everything else! Living with two gas burners and no fridge makes eating a bit more challenging but with the help of Lidel and a creative mind, as well as not to fussy tastes, we managed to survive! One of the real joys of living in the van was realising that you don't need so much! We were also really lucky to have a good list of international contacts so in most stops we had someone to help show us around or lend us a warm shower.

ON THE ROAD

The south of France delivered some amazing conditions, as we arrived so did the Tramatomma

South of France and north Spain is were we spent the first 6 weeks. The south of France delivered some amazing conditions, as we arrived so did the Tramatomma. This did mean winter wetsuits but it was well worth it. We mainly sailed in and around Leucate and with the help of the Locals managed to find a great mix of spots suitable for all the wind strengths! A big thanks has to go to Gerrard from the Leucate proshop who was a great help. After 3 weeks of great wind and settling into life in a van it was time to head to hotter climates so we headed south along the coast of Spain, it was a shame as there was no wind until we reached Tarifa, there was some truly beautiful beaches but just no wind. Tarifa itself wasn't working which was a bit disappointing as we had heard such good reports. Luckily we have friend in Cadiz so after a week of hit and miss conditions we paid them a visit. With a better forecast and the help of local knowledge we scored a great week of sailing.

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CANARIES CALLING

El Medano is a great place with a good vibe and the standard of sailing is very high, which helped push me

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Competition week was great I felt the training paid of and I was less fazed by the tricky conditions this year, which enabled me to take second and set myself up in a good place for PWA Holland

HEADING HOME

After Fuerta it was back to Tenerife for the waves and a lot of wind! We were faced by mast high sections and 40 plus knots which made my first PWA wave event one to remember, I was pleased with the end result of 9th being new I had some hard draws but felt I gained some valuable experience and am looking forward to next year.

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The final stop was actually a week of surfing in France which was a great way to relax. And after a rush back to Amsterdam for my brothers birthday I was itching to get back on the water for the competition in Holland.

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Photos - James Hoare & John Carter / www.pwaworldtour.com

Video - SBG Productions