Discover team duotone - Maria Andres
Maria loves her nomadic lifestyle as windsurfing professional and travel writer.
The pandemic restrictions forced her to take a break and stay at the Coast of Cadiz, South of Spain. She has always very much appreciated her home - the conditions, the nature, the weather, the culture & the vibes. But 2020 Maria finally discovered the full potential that lies within a 5 km radius and sailed in front of her house - for the first time!
»I AM LUCKY TO LIVE IN MY FAVORITE WINDSURF AND SURF SPOT, AND EXCEPT FOR SOME MOMENTS WITH THE BIGGEST RESTRICTIONS, I HAVE BEEN SAILING OR SURFING ALMOST EVERY DAY«
As a professional windsurfer and travel writer you are usually on the road throughout the year. How are you coping with travelling restrictions due to Covid-19?
I am lucky to live in my favorite windsurf and surf spot, and except for some moments with the biggest restrictions, I have been sailing or surfing almost every day, something that is making these difficult times much easier to handle while keeping training and being able to create content for my sponsors, so in those terms, being at home hasn’t been too bad.
About not traveling or competing, I am living it as a break, a time to rest a bit from planes, jetlag and packing every 2 weeks. The traveling during these last 2 years competing in the IWT Tour, have been crazy. The Tour starts in March and ends in November, and the locations are spread and lost around the world, which means a lot of logistics. We had to be connecting spots and living on the road or in a van for many months, carrying all the board bags with gear of 2 seasons. It was very hard and we had a lot of complications on the way. But, it was the adventure of our lives with a perfect end, winning the Overall 2019 IWT Tour!
What kind of experience is it for you to spend a lot more time at home?
I love the nomadic surf life and it is the only way of life that I know, but I have to confess that I was looking forward to a little break from traveling and competing. I am not sure I would have made this break if the pandemic restrictions wouldn't have forced me to… Getting to spend longer than 2 months living in the same place definitely makes life more comfortable, to get into better routines and organized habits, which is nice. There were hard moments during the complete lock down, locked home 24/7 for almost 3 months, when I would usually be on Maui. The conditions were pumping right in front of our windows. Then was when Tom and I created Windy Lines (@windylines), our clothing brand with graphics of our favorite windsurf spots! It was motivating to have a project during those days, and we are very proud of it :)
Then the restrictions softened so I could continue my training almost as normal, even when not traveling. The conditions here are more or less consistent and since I like all windsurf and surf disciplines, there is always something to do! I do love my home. The conditions, the nature, the weather, the culture, the vibes… everything about it. It's been many years that I haven’t spent much time here and I would usually miss almost the entire wave season, so I am enjoying living the whole spectrum of what it has to offer.
Which hidden treasures of your home, the Coast of Cádiz, have you only discovered due to the current situation?
We were locked in for 3 months, and when we were finally allowed to get out of the house, we were still not allowed to drive, so could only walk to the spots. On other occasions the restriction was to not leave our area (5km radius), but being able to use the car though. Even though we live at the beach, in our place it gets a bit heavy, there are strong currents and shore breaks, so we never used to sail here. Our usual spots are just 5 minutes away by car, but getting there on foot with all the gear was unrealistic. We started to sail and surf our home beach on days that normally we would have driven further away. We found out that in a 5 Km radius we have plenty of options and truly amazing conditions that work with almost every wind and wave direction! I knew many of the spots around, but I didn’t know their full potential!
Your traveling stories - Tahiti and New Caledonia amongst your destinations - are very inspiring. What is the most memorable location you have ever been to?
My first trip to New Caledonia was unforgettable. Lena and I arrived a couple of weeks before we had to compete in the PWA in Noumea. The locals were so nice and friendly, and so happy to share their home with us, that we ended up getting to know 3 of the islands, visiting some of the most stunning places we’ve been to, getting invited by tribes to spend some days with their families, camping in a tiny island on a reef and SUPing and wave riding some of the best waves of our lives! We were both super focused on competition, but at the same time we were open to exploring as much as possible, because we were aware that this was a very unique opportunity! I am forever thankful to the locals for that!
And which corner of the world do you keep coming back to and why?
The place I keep coming back is Maui. In spring because of the shootings, in fall because of the Aloha Classic and the waves.. Maui has a perfect balance of wild nature and civilization, and it is warm so you can sail more hours. The wind and wave conditions are super consistent, with the particularity that it's never exactly the same, something that I love. Because of its location, topography and shape, it gets clouds and storms, making the wind shift and change intensity so quick, which together with the different swell directions that hit the coasts and the tides with the reefs, makes that in the same session you can sail offshore, onshore, light and strong with different wave sizes and shapes. It's crazy! You need to keep adapting your sailing and it makes a great training and very entertaining!
Without competing, how do you keep yourself in shape or where do you put your energy instead?
I sail in waves, freestyle, slalom, foil, surf, SUP, longboard, SUP touring… So at the end there aren’t many days that I don’t spend in the ocean! Most of my energy is definitely spent in the water!! Also, I am a little crazy and not only am I in the water almost everyday, but I also spend so many hours! Haha. The aerobic part I do is outdoors, mainly in the ocean. Sometimes even flat just to paddle along the coast, it feels very good and then the surfing days you feel more powerful and confident in the ocean and in the spot. If the sea is messy and not good, then mountain biking around here to some very fun trails. On land, I like to complete my training with some routines at home (TRX, Rings, some yoga exercises…) depending how tired I feel and what kind of activities I have been doing.
You are very professional in creating your own content and representing on SM. During these unusual times in what way do you benefit from this approach over professional windsurfers, who are very focused on competitions?
I have always combined competing with writing for windsurf and SUP magazines. 2020 is actually the first year since I am 12 years old that I haven’t competed. I would always explore the locations where we would travel for competition, and write articles for the magazines, as well as additional trips dedicated just to creating editorial content. I believe that it is a very important part of providing value and exposure to my sponsors, maybe even more than competition results, and these last years that means having a strong social media presence too. I have been writing for mags for many years and I was the co-owner of SUPING Magazine for 5 years as well, so I have some experience with planning content schedules, a vision of what could be interesting, organizing photoshoots, etc. I think that the difference between other athletes that have been mainly focused on competition is that I am more used to it, and I actually like it. I love sharing my stories and trying to motivate people to travel and try our sports. Maybe for some people focused solely on competition, the media side is a new thing to them, or something they don’t enjoy and feel a lot of pressure with it.
The location where I live allows me to sail a lot in very good conditions surrounded by stunning nature, and that helps a lot too. Tom and I always take turns with the camera to consistently provide material to our sponsors. We even bought a water housing to be able to get nicer photos with different angles and perspectives, because at some points when I wanted to shoot with professionals, due to the restrictions, it was impossible for them to come.
You seem to have fun in every possible condition. Nevertheless, what are your most favorite conditions and sail set-ups?
You are right! I like to believe that having fun, just as feeling happy, it’s a choice, a mind set up that you can work on. That said, and having gear for different conditions, there are no bad days! If I can choose my dream day, I would go for a light wind mast high clean peeling wave, hahaha. Something like a good Baja California, light side off Ho'okipa, or a Pacasmayo day to use my Super Hero 4.2 rigged baggy. That, I like a lot! The tack, I don’t really care, I think I have more flow port tack but more experience on starboard... I confess I love everything! I love it a bit onshore too, for the Super Hero 3.7 with power in the sail and steep shoulder high waves. I have the whole quiver of Super Heroes from 3.0 to 4.7 and, except for the 3.0, they all get used about equally… All conditions have their treasures, like a good down the line and aerials when it's offshore, a nice top turn when it's sideshore, or the backside airs when onshore and windy! I get excited just writing about it, what
an awesome sport we do!
Do you have some advice for other windsurfers?
There are no bad days in the water! You would be surprised how much fun some of those average days can be! Small or easy days are the ones you can actually push, try new things or risk a bit more, so those days will make the difference in improving your level. Having some goals can be very fun too, just be careful that having goals don’t become a frustration, set your goals step by step. Push your level with friends, but don’t compare, every person has a different learning rhythm. I am often one of these few people sailing on those average days, and you know what? The other few sailors around happen to be some of the best, I am sure that this is one of the reasons that makes them become so good.
Even, if it is difficult to say at the moment, what are your plans for the upcoming season? What are your most interesting projects you are working on?
I'll keep working on getting nice photos and videos for social media, both for my own account and for my sponsors accounts, as well as continue with articles for windsurf and SUP print magazines. I'm organizing clips for a couple of videos too, some about some adventures I want to share, and also some about gear for my Spanish-speaking audience, as it is a large market and most of the content available is only in English. I'd love to travel a bit and join some IWT and PWA events, but it is hard to make plans at the moment. I try to have flexible options and a plan B. I'll pay attention to what is possible and make the best out of it.
Where do you want to be in 5 years?
I'd love to live a life very similar to what I've been doing. Spending seasons on Maui and Spain, and traveling to some places in between. Writing travel articles for magazines, promoting my sponsors and making our brand Windy Lines grow. I'd love to take a more active role for my sponsors in the photoshoots and marketing aspects, which is a work that I love! I also have some projects in the making to promote the sport and to motivate women in sport.
Any further motto or statement you want to share with us?
Live life true to your heart. The moment is now.
Pictures: Tom Soltysiak, Maria Andrés, Fishbowldiaries