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Maria overcome your fears and throws a forward at Jericoacoara in Brazil!





This is a story that many of you will probably identify with, and I hope it stirs something inside you, pushing you to step out of your comfort zone & chase a couple of dreams you’ve unknowingly denied yourself. It’s time to break down some boundaries!

Photos: Tom Soltysiak, Christian Czadilek // Words: Maria Andrés


I Love Wave Riding But…

I am a passionate windsurfer who has traveled halfway around the world in search of waves. My passion has taken me to incredible places with picture-perfect, endless waves. Sometimes to lost paradises with crystal clear waters, palm trees, corals, and colourful fish… other times to remote locations where reaching the spot was already a mission in itself, like Baja, California. Or to never-ending chocolate-coloured waves such as those in Peru, where you can perform as many turns on a single wave as you would in a whole year at any other spot!

When you love pure wave riding, you seek places with clean waves, that are gently groomed by light side-offshore winds. Due to the light winds, strong currents, and waiting for sets, you sometimes spend hours and hours in the water for just a few waves. For example, in Peru, if you ride a long wave, it can take you over 10 minutes to sail back upwind. Wave riding requires hours and hours of learning, plenty of traveling and the ability to understand different types of waves, which is another skill set in itself.

I enjoy the serenity of wave riding and light winds; I love carving, learning to read the waves, and I’ve never minded sacrificing quantity for the quality of waves and surfing. The joy of surfing bigger and perfect waves truly is amazing, and not to mention addictive! I wouldn’t change it for anything! I’m aware of the fact that I have dedicated a lot of time to this aspect, and if I had focused on spots where I could practice jumps and tricks on every run, my progress would have been quicker at normal wave spots, but everyone is different. This has been my chosen route because wave riding really is my passion.

The Human within the Windsurfer

People, including myself, have moments of inflection, and while I had never been interested in spending time on jumps, suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, I decided that I didn’t want to miss out on that aspect of windsurfing. I don’t want to miss out on such a fundamental and fun part of the sport I love! I’m not into strong winds or small sails, I don’t seek heights, and I don’t consider myself someone who enjoys taking risks with crazy moves. Jumping has never interested me much, and after a couple of accidents (my ears) practicing backloops, and being completely scared of forwards, jumping was definitely at the opposite end of my comfort zone! However, recently I have experienced an increasing desire to learn to jump, wanting to practice some rotations, but with a serious mental barrier when it comes to forward loops!

Everyone has their barriers, both mentally and physically. Sometimes these barriers don’t alter your course, but in other cases, they can cause a lot of frustration. In the context of windsurfing, we encounter many variants of these mental blocks. Some people don’t dare to hook into the harness, or put their feet in the footstraps, and therefore struggle to progress. Some have always wanted to windsurf, but think it’s too late, or they believe they don’t have the physical capabilities. Others don’t jump due to fear, while some get bored of sailing on flatwater because they are intimidated by the waves. We all have fears and psychological blocks. We must assess whether it affects us, and sometimes we must confront those fears. There’s no need to be ashamed of having blocks, and we should be even less ashamed of admitting them with the goal to overcome them.

My Block

My block has always been the forward loop. I’ve landed backloops, spocks and grubbies… but catapulting myself forward at that speed has always terrified me. I’ve ridden big waves in Hawaii and other places, had solid results competing in waves (3rd at the Aloha Classic, 1st on the IWT Tour & currently 2nd on the IWT/PWA World Tour Ranking…), I’ve traveled alone across the globe with basically nothing, and all was well… but that forward loop… until recently, I didn’t even dare to try! Until I got fed up with setting limits for myself. We all have the right to feel fear, and to give up, even before trying, but we also have the right to say “That’s enough!” and take control!

Completely determined to overcome my blocks, I embarked on the most emotional journey of my life. Emotional in every spectrum, from the deepest frustration to the most honest euphoria and gratitude. Learning about myself, those who accompanied me, and how strangers can become involved and support you in your journey of personal growth overwhelmed me.

Ready to Takeoff on Your Greatest Windsurf Trip?

During this inner journey through windsurfing, I have realised that many people have identified with me. With each day of experience, reflecting on this, I realised how, with determination, a plan, being structured, and following a few guidelines, the experience is more manageable and satisfying. So, I want to share with you the points that I think are the most important to emphasise and concentrate on. Are you up for crossing some frontiers?

Identify Your Windsurfing Block

First and foremost, let’s differentiate between two concepts: having goals and having blocks. Goals are objectives that you are motivated to achieve and you are already working towards, or planning to do it. Blocks are goals that you give up on before even attempting them, leading to much frustration.

To begin with, identify exactly what your block is, if you have one. What holds you back? What have you always wanted to do, but that you’re too embarrassed, or afraid to try? Using the harness? Planing hooked-in? Jumping? Etc.

Rationalise the Fear or Block

Once you know what it is that’s blocking you and you’re determined not to let another day pass without facing it, think of why you haven’t tried it yet. Or why you’ve given up on it? Is the risk truly that significant? Take the necessary steps to learn it safely, visualise it and realise the real risk isn’t as high as you once may have feared.

I recommend taking classes or having a coach if possible. This way, you’ll have the tools to try it in the safest possible way. It’s crucial to understand what you want to do and how to do it correctly and safely.

If your block is more physical in nature, it is still possible to make some adjustments in the equipment if needed, which can help you achieve your goals and enjoy this and other watersports. I’m sure any watersports centre would be thrilled to help you achieve it.

If your block is about age, your look or feeling embarrassed about being a beginner, look inward, feel how much you desire it, lift your head up, and go for it, wholeheartedly. There’s nothing worse than regretting not trying something. Don’t think about not achieving it or giving up. At the end of the day, you will realise that not only are people doing their thing, but also that the ones who see you fully committed to learning and improving something will be happy, supportive and ready to help you with some tips!

Motivation to Go All In

Frustration can paralyse your progress, change your mood, and make you want to give up. Therefore, the main motivation to overcome a barrier should be your well-being. However, there are many more motivations, which can give you that extra push!! If you surpass certain stages, you’ll be able to sail in new places, surf at spots with friends that were previously out of reach, and even travel with them to spots that seemed unattainable! It will elevate your learning to the next level and open doors to new tricks! It will make you feel fantastic and powerful, and eager to get back on the water.

In the next part, I focus on our struggles on the water, but undoubtedly, you will see reflections of this in other situations in life.

Breaking Down Barriers

Once you’ve identified what you want to overcome, let’s analyse the ideal conditions for doing so.

Determination: This is the key. If you want it, you’ve already won. The moment you decide to do it, you’ve already broken the habit of giving up before trying! It’s a great moment, and you should be proud! This is the most challenging step and you’re now progressing towards your goal.

Consistent Spot: I always recommend setting intensive periods to overcome these objectives when the conditions allow for progress. If you’re in a place where the wind blows once a month, progress may be slower and more frustrating, though not impossible! However, if you set a challenge to overcome a significant barrier, plan this adventure for when you have the opportunity to sail regularly. In the meantime, enjoy those sporadic days without putting too much pressure on yourself.

Precise Information: It’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what and how. Know exactly the steps you want to learn. Watch videos, read tutorials and ask others for tips. If you can afford to attend a clinic with a coach, that would be perfect – it’s the most effective and safest approach. Having the advice and support of a professional and being part of a motivated group will greatly increase your chances of success.

The Right Spot For It: Each objective has an ideal spot to learn it. If your goal is to get into windsurfing, go for it! Look for a Windsurfing school, they will be at the right location and will have the best equipment. In any case, you’ll need lessons to learn safely, effectively, and enjoyably! Don’t be ashamed – regardless of your age or physique, when you get on the board for the first time, it will be worth it! When you move propelled by the wind, you’ll see for yourself! Trust me!

If you want to get into the harness, a flatwater spot with a constant wind and appropriate gear will benefit you, and the intensity of the wind won’t matter as much. Avoid offshore winds if you are without rescue cover. If you want to use the footstraps, you’ll need more wind and, if possible, flat water. Tarifa would be ideal… To learn your first jumps, you’ll need strong wind to plane, space to build up speed and small ramps to takeoff and waves that aren’t too big! If you’re goofy, it would be better to jump on starboard tack, in places like Viana do Castelo, Portugal. If you’re regular, Tenerife or Pozo would be perfect. For your first steps in wave riding, you’ll need spots with side-shore winds and small waves, preferably with sandy bottoms and some consistency, as slow progression will be frustrating. For the very first turns, Viana do Castelo in Portugal, Jericoacoara in Brazil, or Moulay in Morocco are excellent spots for regular riders, as they will surf with their dominant foot at the back. Meanwhile, for goofy riders, places like El Medano in Tenerife or Pacasmayo in Peru would be ideal. Choosing the right spot is part of the success!

The Right Equipment: Having the correct gear is extremely important. Make sure you have the right setup, especially the appropriate sizes for your weight and the conditions. Seek advice from friends, stores, or schools; they will happily help you and your experience will be enhanced.

Positive Company: It’s crucial to be surrounded by people who bring positive energy, motivate or inspire you. Going with friends, who each have their own goals, can also be a lot of fun. If you have someone nearby who demotivates or pressures you, politely make them understand that you need your space, that your way of learning doesn’t necessarily work the same as theirs, and that this is important to you – it’s a challenge that requires focus, and you want to enjoy the process. Be honest, and they’ll understand.

Never Give Up: Remember, the most challenging part was deciding it. Even if you feel down at times and don’t see progress, just keep climbing those stairs. Other people’s reactions and expectations can have both positive and negative impacts. Look within yourself, don’t overwhelm yourself, and set your own goals. Everyone is different, and the journey to reach the goal may have more, or fewer, steps depending on each person’s circumstances. Don’t forget that before climbing the first step, you thought you couldn’t do it, and you’ve probably climbed at least halfway by now! Enjoy the journey! Everyone has a unique story and personality; some are more conservative, some are fitter, some are less coordinated and some may achieve things right away. Don’t get frustrated if something doesn’t come easily to you. You have every reason to be proud of: your bravery, determination, willpower and perseverance because, remember, you’re overcoming a barrier, and this is the most challenging phase – and you’re doing it! Reaching the goal is a matter of continuing to climb stairs and working hard, so let’s keep going! Windsurfing is not known to be the easiest sport, but that’s precisely why it’s so addictive and rewarding! It’s absolutely worth it!

Have Fun: Try and make sure that you have fun during the process! Also, do things that you like to do, or that you are good at, perform other tricks or ride waves. Make time for pauses, chat with the others, and enjoy the ocean and nature! Don’t focus ONLY on your mental block because it will normally become too intense!

Go All-In: When you find yourself doing something you never thought you were capable of, you’ll feel pure joy, euphoria… crikey… you might even cry… believe me! When you see yourself taking a step back, you’ll lower your head and doubt… but then you’ll rise again, with more enthusiasm, more strength, because you know you can do it, you’re strong. I had never realised how going against your instinct requires maximum concentration! You’ll see how the people around you, those who love you or even those you don’t know, start to understand you. They’ll support you, encourage you, and genuinely be happy for you! Who doesn’t love to see someone facing their fears and conquering them, chasing their dreams, getting up after every fall and keeping on fighting? I have celebrated with people I’ve just met, and their support and closeness brought tears of emotion to my eyes. I’ve seen how my life partner understood and supported me. This is a lifelong story because it’s not just about nailing a trick; it’s about punching the table and saying “Enough is enough,” and grabbing life by the horns and with freedom.

My Journey: Throwing Myself Forward in Brazil

My experience was wonderful, with significant, emotional ups and downs, but always with the satisfying thought: “Hey, I dared to do it! I can’t give up now!”. I remember moments of maximum frustration where a bad habit became my enemy, and I recall other moments where I couldn’t contain my joy, and I was grinning from ear to ear.

I chose Jericoacoara and Maceio for this adventure. Why? Because it’s windy every day, with no worries about rocks, reefs, sharks, or anything like that, the water is warm, and you can sail for as long as you can endure. It’s flat with perfect little ramps for takeoffs. I also prefer to jump on starboard tack as I feel more comfortable, so all external factors were as ideal as they could be.

My partner accompanied, and fully supported me, because he knew how much I wanted to do it, and my friends were also on the water being my greatest inspirations. (Sarah-Quita, Oda, Lina [Erpenstein] and Arrianne…). Around us, there were many other people in the same situation, overcoming fears and completely stepping out of their comfort zones, giving it their all! It was the perfect environment—wind, ramps, good vibes, and friendly people. I will never forget this journey of self-improvement, not giving up, falling many times, but with the biggest smile on my face. It was truly satisfying.

Months later, I made a mini getaway to Tenerife to do the same thing, but on the opposite tack, which I’m not so comfortable on. It was a completely different experience. Now, I didn’t start from zero! There were still emotional moments, but this journey was completely different, in the sense that now it was just a learning process, a normal goal! The mental barrier had already been cracked! Now I can focus on learning and improving!

Look Inward – Do You Want to Continue Missing Out?

Whatever your blockage is, in any sport or aspect of your life. Sometimes, there are small things that others don’t understand, or imagine, how important they are to you. However, not daring to overcome them eats you up from the inside, whether it’s something to do, to say, or to try… I invite you to look introspectively and give yourself the opportunity to think about how a reset will make you prouder and more fulfilled. In many cases, there’s no specific goal that matters. Your target is not the result, it is something that you gradually work towards. Your real target is just to break down a wall, to feel that you can give yourself freedom and that you are in control of your life. In windsurfing, too!

Are you ready to break down a barrier? I encourage you with all my heart to embrace the challenge, it will be an incredible and exciting journey.

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