Kiwi teenager Paige Hareb - one of New Zealand’s most promising young athletes - made waves in the international surfing world by claiming a place on the coveted 2009 ‘Dream Tour’.
Hareb, who grew up in Taranaki on the North Island’s west coast, made Kiwi surfing history when she became the first New Zealander to qualify for the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 2009 Women’s World Tour - dubbed the ‘Dream Tour’.
The eight-event tour features the top 18 female surfers. Competition is fierce, with each surfer having to continue to earn their spot on the following year’s tour.
Hareb retained her world #8 ranking for the 2010 Dream Tour.
Making a splash
Paige Hareb’s rise up the surfing ranks has been rapid, and she has made the difficult leap from amateur to professional appear easy.
A sponsor’s wildcard entry, Hareb thrilled the surfing world when she reached the 2008 final of the Billabong World Pro Junior Championships.
Since then, Hareb has continued to impress with strong performances in the 2009 world qualifying series. By the end of the series, she ranked fourth with a guaranteed spot on the prestigious 2010 Women’s World Tour.
Global surfing brand Billabong are Hareb’s key sponsors.
Born on 6 June 1990, in the small beach town of Oakura, Hareb grew up beside the famed Taranaki surf breaks.
It was her father, a keen surfer, who first encouraged his daughter - aged six - into the surf.
Hareb became a member of the Oakura Boardrider’s club, and started competing in local competitions where her talent was soon obvious. Early successes included the Primary School National Surf Competition.
Paige Hareb believes surfing Taranaki’s varied breaks from a young age gave her a formidable surfing education, equipping her with the skills to compete against the world’s best.
New Zealand’s accessible and varied coastline has long-attracted surfers from around the world. Aside from New Zealand’s natural coastal environment, the lack of crowds is a major drawcard for the surfing world.
"Taranaki and most of New Zealand still have waves as good as anywhere else in the world, yet there are no crowds. It’s one of the joys of surfing in New Zealand," Hareb says.
Taranaki sits in a unique location, between mountain and sea, making it an ideal spot for snow and surf lovers. The proximity to the snow can create colder water temperatures, conditions that Hareb believes have given her an edge in the water.
"Braving the cold in New Zealand and the restrictions of wearing a winter wetsuit can only make surfing warmer waters easier," she says.
Hareb’s impressive fitness level has also been noted on the international circuit.
To get in top form for competitions Hareb has employed some unusual training techniques. She uses an on-land barrel - built with supplies from the local hardware store - and her skateboard to practise balance while visualising herself inside a barrel.
The training programme includes boxing, swimming and stretching.