Thursday, March 09, 2017

Australia Friend or Foe

This story is one for the parents out there who face the marvellous glories and the challenging trials of having children.  This story is about the ups and the downs of embarking on a trip of a lifetime.

(Hanging out at Prevelly, Margret River right before a quick dip)

Stalking Kangaroos, chasing parrots, first ever ice cream at Cottesloe, fish n chips at sunset, kiting in Augusta & Lancelin, swimming in Fremantle and Margret River, watching wild dolphins play.  Road trippin' through Western Oz with just myself and my son who is now 15 months old was an incredible and complete 3 week adventure that we have just returned from 1 week ago.

(Hanging at Safety Bay)

The idea of travelling alone with my son somewhere so far from home felt like something so overwhelmingly great that I had a tattoo lined up in my mind to mark the achievement of this momentus trip, but Im going to tell you from the outset that there will be no such tattoo, just words emblazoned on the inner eyelids shouting NAIVE!!!!!...  

The reason for our trip was to go to the infamous Western Oz to check it all our and figure out a brand new kitesurfing coaching holiday to hit Jo Wilson Coaching for 2018.  We wanted to experience  Woodies, Safety Bay, Australind, Yallingup, Margret River, Augusta & Lancelin first hand. We wanted to meet the locals, visit the beaches, coffee shops, restaurants, winery's, breweries, parks & accommodations.  With Finn under the age of 2 and still able to travel for free I did not want to miss the opportunity of scoping out the Western Oz Kitesurfing Experience.  Clearly travelling with just Finn I would not be able to do too much actual kitesurfing, but that did not stop me from taking my ideal set up of 2017 North Dice, Hadlow Bar, 133cm North Jamie & my old faithful Ronix Bindings!!  (Brilliantly you can blag this as Finn's high chair & 'stuff' with the airline and that does not even get questioned!)

(Thats me in the background Kiting Augusta - this one kite alone made the whole trip worthwhile)

Travelling through Westerm Oz, was not quite the dream trip that I had imagined!!  We did all those things above, so on paper the trip was as brilliant as it could be, but the reality was quite different!

Initially I had been dreading the 19 hour flight...   this bit was not that bad at all.  Lots of children sharing books, toys and food and many parents agonising over the difficulties of getting their child to sleep in an over stimulating environment was a shared experience.  Although travelling alone, I was far from alone!  One glimpse over to another mummy sat a couple of seats away was reassuring enough to know that the good times and giggles were shared along with the tears and tantrums!  The flight was the easy bit.  Over coming jet lag was easy to!  I had planned 3 days of small adventures, so that we could have some fun, but get with the time zone!   Flight & Jet Lagg complete with no drama, epic!!

(stunning beaches everywhere)

The 4th day - the day where I thought we'd break in to the land of Australia and its time zone is when we took our nose dive!!!  Poor little Finn caught a bug!!  His temperature was through the roof and I will save you the gory details of vomit at the worst time in the worst places, tears, lack of sleep etc etc.  He was as poorly as he has ever been with me and I was 9,000 miles from home!  The time zone made me feel even more alone and despite my best efforts to be a strong, independent, capable mum I  had to call home 3 times in the middle of the night and multiple times at 6am (viable calling time in my mind)...   Im sure my husband was doubly thanking me for 1. leaving him in the midst of the UK winter for sunnier climes & 2.  Calling him at 4am in a floods of tears!  

As all mums know there is not a lot you can do for your poorly child other then wait it out!!  6 days later, Finn started to become himself once again!!  Halleluhlah....    or as it turns out not so halleluhlah!! The following day it was my turn to be hit by the virus!  For the next 6 days it was my turn for my bones to ache, feel too weak to function, struggle to sleep, freeze to the bone despite the 28 sunny degrees out side!  I seriously have a new respect for mum's!!

(Crisis Time)

In 2008 I took part in a documentary series called Dangerous Jobs for Girls.  (Funny that this is also an Australia story - the only other time I have been to Oz).  Alongside 2 other girls we had to train with a crew to be able to run a commercial trawler boat for 24 hours.  Training took 3 days on various boats tossing tonnes of feed in to salmon farms, bobbing in the ocean collecting crayfish pots & fishing for calamari.  We then went on the trawler boat for an initial test to see how it felt (code for getting us sea sick).  After all that we then spent 8 days on the southern ocean far from land rotating jobs between emptying nets, gutting fish, icing the catch and taking watch on deck at night.  We wore the appropriate protective clothing and were not spared from any of the hard graft.

(finishing up from 1 of 42 catches)

To give you an idea of the workload...    There was no day or night...   just 42 x 4 hour long fishing periods.  Every 4 hours around the clock we had to pull in a very large net, off load the fish, throw the net back out again then gut, sort and ice each catch before the next net was due to come in.  We did this 42 times over 8 days and in total we caught 22 tonnes of fish.  For the TV show the girls had to do the role of the crew without their help for the final 24 hours.  Spines from fish in our feet, blisters on the end of our fingers and the bruises from dropping heavy equipment out of weariness took its toll!  It was the hardest thing I have ever done and never got more then 90 minutes of sleep in any one period of time in well over a week.

(2am on the job)

The show was called Dangerous jobs for girls and for anyone who wants to look it up its a 4 part series for which I took part in the trawler fishing episode.  The significance of this trip is quite something for me.  Whenever I feel as though Im having a tough time I remember back to this trip and remind myself that if I can do that then I can do anything...  But entering the world of being a mum in Western Oz put this to the test for the first time.

(My very own Kuala, post kite cuddle)

While in Oz there were some crucial friends from years past that popped up at just the right time.  I met up with Mel who run a kite centre in Egypt many years ago while I visited with my sister, I spent several days with Russ and Carrie who now live near Margs.  I basically learned to kite with them when at university.  They were total saviours and took care of us at our most difficult stage. We then met up with Nick, a client who completely crosses the line in to friendship just at the end of my illness!  Without these people on our trip Im not sure what we would have done.

(Nick in shred town)

Fortunately for both Finn and I there is so much stimulating things to see and do that as long as we could get in the car we could find something that required little effort to perk our day up and get us through!  

(Getting barrelled at Yallingup)

We made our journey from Lancelin to Augusta and I was able to kite 3 times!  Finn swam with new mini friends, climbed at many parks and chased birds all unusual to us, so together we bumbled our way through, but I will say that I am so happy to be back with Chris, at home following our usual routine and looking forward to our next big adventure to Morocco together as a complete family!!

(Heading out at Lancelin)

For now I think I will hold off getting the tattoo and continue marrying our way through the trials of parenting!  To all you mums and dads out there!! You are amazing!! You are achieving far more each day then those who visually look like they are achieving great things.  Being a mum (or dad) is far more testing then being a participant on the Kitesurfing World Tour!!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Kitesurfing, Training & The Olympics

We just hit August and the 3 months since I last posted has flown by. Finn has already grown so much, has 3 teeth, can hug, kiss (allbeit very gozzy), crawl and has just started his first steps. He has so much energy and my heart melts for each and every cheeky grin that he throws my way and out to others too. He seems such a happy little chappy which makes up for the nights of broken sleep.

Looking back on his first 3 months in to the world I realise how much of a testing time that was. My mum's advice about situations is to try to "stay calm & unruffled on the surface, but paddle like hell underneath." Its quite true. There is so much to deal with, but you just keep your chin up and carry on. I think i probably threw in one adventure & one long car journey more then necessary as a way to kick back and continue forward through this monumental life change.

These last 3 months have been different to the first 3 and I think I can think much more clearly. I'd say the biggest thing that I have noticed has been all about fitness and sport. Its been big deal to get back in shape and be able to hit the water again, so when Finn was 5 months old we travelled to Dominican Republic to get some consistent time on the water.

In the 8 months that Finn has been in this world the holiday is by far the one biggest thing that I look back on and think how worth the buck it cost and the effort of travelling on a 9 hour flight with a still very small baby. It has put me in good stead for getting back in shape.

Chris was super dad! He took care of Finn a lot by lifting him and holding him as much as possible so that I didn't have to. They bonded even more then they had already and had great adventures steering a ship which was in fact a viewing bar from our apartment block garden.

Having both Chris & Finn and some of my bestest friends who we were visiting gave my body a chance to recover from the aches and pains from bad posture and post pregnancy. I would get to kite for 2 hours on most days. I started off with simple tricks which is all I was brave & fit enough to do, but by the last day I could do a little better and I felt much stronger.

Once back home it was onwards & upwards and fitness mostly consists of two jogs per week with the pram & a trx session in the garden every now and then. Kiting is certainly not a frequent enough occurrence, but this training off the water makes each session count much more when on the water. It has helped my confidence grow.

 In July I had my first job as a professional kitesurfer once again. Kiting for a film crew who were making an advert for an industrial minerals company. I kited for 5 hours pretty much straight & it felt phenomenal.

For at least a month now I have been feeling much fitter and I can see the way forward to bigger and better tricks on the water once again.

Business Jo Wilson Coaching - Kitesurfing Coaching Holidays I have been focusing on Youth Training.  Together with both Finn and Chris we have run half of the British Kitesports Pro Kite Youth Training Program. It consists of 4 weekends around the country, so a perfect project to work on.

For the two weekends that have happened, it was a challenge to switch my brain off from Finn, but it has been a great additional focus and awesome to work with talented kids.  I have already seen that they train hard between coaching weekends and the progress really shows.  It has also been another rewarding time to see both my boy and my man enjoying time together on a often wet & windy beach. The next training date is later this month in Hunstanton which Im really looking forward to.

To continue on the sports theme, how exciting that the Olympics are imminent!? I am still officially on maternity leave for one more month, so it feels only right to maximise on the Olympics this year.

We are going to throw ourselves in to supporting Team GB. We've downloaded the app, the schedule & our TV will be ON ON ON for the whole time! The photo below is the UK's female windsurfer Bryony Shaw who visited us just after the 2012 Olympics. She throws her heart and soul in to her training and is such an inspiration.  My niece and nephew loved showing off this photo at sports day this year!!

There is nothing like achieving something and we cannot wait to shout at the telly and send support to Bryony and all the other British athletes.

I hope you are all having as great a summer as we are and if you are in our hood and want to watch some olympics then get yourself over to ours!!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

A change is as good as a rest

Welcome back to my blog and to the start of a new chapter my life. With this blog my aim is to write about the trials and tribulations transforming from one adventure to another - The adventure of family life.

Photo taken with Finn at 8 weeks

It's been 3+ years since blogging, so please let me re-introduce myself.

My name is Jo Wilson now Jo Rabone. My job is a professional kitesurfer turned kite coach and my husband runs a design & landscape business. People think he is the chilled one, but not a lot of people know that he has traveled as part of a team with climber Leo Houlding to Ulvetanna & Mt Asgard to climb 2 treacherous unclimbed lines on 2 exquisitely beautiful rocks jetting out the Arctic & Antarctic ice.

Photo by Alistair Lee of Posing Productions of Chris crossing a river on route to Mt Asgard 

I bring shells back from the Pacific, the Red Sea, the Southern Ocean after my kitesurfing adventures and Chris brings rocks from the peaks of the mountains they conquer in the polar regions! We're quite the same in terms of adventure but wildly apart in terms of choice. By star sign he is water & I am fire, a perfect synergy!!

Around 6 months ago we welcomed our son Finley Jack aka Finn into the world and 6 months has flown by. What I have come to realise is how I always strive to have far too much in my hands and now I really truly have a good excuse.

Photo: Packing up the car for kitesurfing with Finns stuff too. Finn aged 9 weeks

By having Finn I do not intend for an adventurous life to end, just a new one to begin.

My career is a slightly less orthodox career; running kitesurfing holidays from South Africa to Egypt & Morocco to Brazil. I coach people who can already Kitesurf who would like to improve. I also run a youth program that travels around my home country of the UK helping talented riders to progress. Through this blog I plan to share my delights, secrets & epic fails of becoming a parent & striving to continue on this unorthodox path.

Photo First Round of the Youth Training Program complete, Finn aged 18 weeks

In my day to day life pre family I would try to work a 5 day week. Once on my trips I'd often work for 16 hours a day for 2 weeks straight. Simultaneously Chris has left the house by 7am and seldom returns before 7pm. Clearly post Finn these hours don't work out so I tend to snatch a few hours work on a Wednesday when Finn would be with his nana then I'd work after 8pm in the evenings when possible. Chris in my desperate times will 'work from home' and so I prioritise the jobs that need to be done the most in order to keep my business rolling.  He is incredibly supportive.

Photo Egyptian Energy Kitesurfing Holiday pre Finn.

My kitesurfing coaching holidays continue to run because I have someone who I've trained over the last 2 years. She has studied in sports psychology to. I consider her to be a dedicated coach I provide her with a detailed itinerary for each day on the trips plus nightly feedback for the days when trips are running. She has my complete support and she puts in the enthusiasm, energy & hours on a trip that I consider essential.  I'm very lucky to have her and it allows my coaching holidays continue to run the way I would like even though I am at home.

Photo The awesome Dakhla Dreamin' Crew with Nanette, April 2016.

Working during the day when I'm with Finn is out of the question. He's my koala and basically needs to be in my arms or within direct eye contact 90% of the time. Working at the same time would make me resent his constant need for attention & make me look forward to his naps, so it feels both luxurious, exciting & fun to pack our day with activities that we both like such as walks, runs, swimming & becoming coffee connoisseurs. Our routine involves leaving the house at some point & coming home again. I focus on him & him only.

Photo Finn in Coniston with Chris when aged 12 weeks

I have no idea how life will pan out - I kinda like that!!!

My entries on this blog will be about our adventures, successes & fails. I will talk about where we go, what we do & how I come back to full fitness & strength post pregnancy. I will never look back on things I may have lost, but on things that I gain.

Photo Early days of getting back in to exercise, Finn aged 12 weeks

Right now I am enjoying spending more time with my friends who I'd often go for months without seeing. More adventurously I've spent time exploring the Lake District which is where I live. I've been learning the geography and walking hills with just Finn for company. I've never felt comfortable with this before as I've spent all my time on the coast making hills feel daunting. One funny thing is that walking up Coniston Old Man now feels less daunting than going to the supermarket!

Photo Questing up from Glenridding towards Hellvelyn Finn aged 6 weeks (he's in my jacket)

I hope with this blog I can inspire woman who are not sure about taking the plunge with having a child because of their sporting sacrifice. I also hope to inspire woman who feel insecure about pushing their comfort zone once having a child & I hope that anyone else may just enjoy the read.

Photo by Angel Giudicelli of Jo building up confidence & strength in Dominican Republic, Finn age 23 weeks

Next post will be about exercise & our trip to Dominican Republic.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

National Watersports Festival 2012

I've just got back from the National Watersports Festival 2012 (NWF). To be fair at this stage its more of a windsurfing festival then kitesurfing, but having said that we can take a way a lot from the event and learn from it. The event was rammed! 400 entrants in total! There were people of all ages and all the windsurfing Pro's were there too, so it was a great one for the windsurfing kiddies!
In the evening they held a cool race event. the kids each could choose a pro to be in their 2 man team then they had to race out to a bouy and back in a relay format. The sailors were covered head to toe in glow sticks and spot lights lit the water. There wasn't a lot of wind but it didnt detract from it. In fact it made it better. Instead the spectators - of which there were 100's sat on the beach with the beers and stayed warm from the good weather (bad weather for riders). The kids raced out at snail pace, but it was only a short distance so it didnt matter, some of them swam their kit out and back while the others crawled a long pumping furiously. When they got back to the beach the pro who they picked then did the same. Both the kid and the pro then had to race up the beach through a finish line to become the winner. It was really good fun to see!
After this the pro's took to the water being towed along by ribs on their windsurfers. They would take a wide circle and build up speed! A lot of speed! It was intense. The boat would finish the circle close to the beach at which point the windsurfer would let go then with the momentum created from the boat then do a move to wow the crowd! It was phenomenal.
Through out the day their were stands and marquees and food places, live stream tv and commentary throughout. Jem Hall, Peter Hart and Guy Cribb ran windsurfing clinics on the beach for the masses to take some quick tips back home to practice. From the kitesurfing point of view most of the industry was there from Naish to North to Airush and more. Big names there were Chris Burke, Mark Shinn and a few others.
We scored a little bit of wind on the sunday afternoon, but mostly the weather was super hot and sunny! Great for stand up paddle boarders. This is the shot of the weekend for me.
Next up a trip to my original home beach - Bigbury! Plllleeeaseeee let there be wind!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Windy in Wales

Last week was an exciting week with a great forecast. My new kites for 2013 had arrived and I was waiting for my 2013 Custom global surfboard which I had been expecting for a few days already. The forecast was for 35mph and big swell and it was going to be my first chance to get out on my new small kites. The difficult thing was the wind direction was a bit wierd, so no where was working completely 100% for a few days so I was in the land of indecisiveness which never bodes well with me. The evenings before the wind was due to kick I ummed and rrrrr'd making a decision then changing my mind. Based in the Lake district I new we would have no waves so I had been looking up towards Tiree, then down to North Wales, South Wales, Cornwall and Devon. I was strongly tempted with Devon as it used to be my homespot, but it seemed a long way to go just for 2 days, but settled with that.
(My homespot in Devon) The next day I changed my mind and set my mind on Rhosneigr in North Wales which is when Ian Edmundson from Expix got it touch. I've been in touch with him a few times lately so he knew I was brewing up an escape, but he was ready for the decision and I wasn't. At that same moment my phone went and had a text from a person who I have just recently met. "The forecast for the week is good. 12 foot swell weds/thurs rhosneigr but just below barmouth is a left hand point that peels forever. it only comes alive a couple of times a year and weds/thurs looks like one of them so we are heading down howling winds cross cross off. P" Well that is all I needed to make a decision! I'm in! Ian's in! Dave Ibby's in and my new pal Paul must be in else he wouldnt have texted! Sweet! We ended up meeting up by chance about half an hour from barmouth and formed a convoy the rest of the way - Paul, Mark and Martin in their high top transit, Ibby in his bling lwb T5 and me in my very short indeed renault clio - good things come in small packages.
(packing up the clio the night before) On arrival it was howling! 5m weather for sure the problem is the waves hadnt yet kicked it! It was 5m weather freestyle! It had pain or boredom written all over it depending on psych levels! We crusied the coast to find somewhere a little more exciting for swell and finally settled on Aberdovey. By this time it was late afternoon so we sessioned until late in the evening. It was 5m weather, but I had a shiny new limited addition 6m to bring out the bag so I ignored that I had a bigger size then some of the guys and unleashed some growing kitesurfing excitment. We had a great session in cross shore wind with some small and regular messy swell about, but it was a great introduction to the waveboard as I havent ridden it since December.
(Sliding back in to the way of it) That evening I shared out my flapjacks and the boys shared out their beers before pitching camp ready for the swell to kick in and a 6am start. 6am the following morning we peaked our weary heads out of the doors / tents to see a grand solid 1 foot weebling its way in! Dire! The forecast so good, so much indecision, so much thought! We weren't going to splash around in that. Meanwhile in Rhosneigr it was sure to have some swell so in a dosey 30 minute turnaround time we upsticks and drove the 2 hour winding wales roads.
(Rhosneigr View) 8.30am we pitched up to Rhossy! Only in Rhossy can it look so much like lunch time. There were vans, cars, kit everywhere. Everyone had been waiting and the swell was pumping! Windsurfers and kitesurfers alike were already on the water. 5 minutes later we were on the water too! I was happy to see it was shiny new, once used limited edition 6m weather!
(A stolen pic of from the day) The swell rolled in over head high all morning. The sun shone bright and there were many faces from my past which was nice to see! Rhosneigr was on form. I was super rusty on the waveboard, but was pleased to find myself making most of my gybes and snaking my way on some big and small waves. As the day progressed my riding did too and I began to feel my flow!
(Taking another wave) I took some good waves and a mega wipeout. My kite went down and I tumbled through. My head bent the wrong way twice and I heard it click, but I came out all in one piece and thought ocrrectly that I would probably pay that consequence the next day! I have no idea how, but my kite also survived! One wave broke over it and I resurface to see it still looking healthy, but with one more wave on the way, but like an obedient child it responded to my requests to relaunch and we were back on our feet again. The session was epic, but short lived. By lunchtime the tide had pulled back and the waves had died down. The clouds drew in and finally the heavens began to crack turning the air into wet mist! The waves slowly vanished and left us with barely a ripple, but a good session for freestyle! The wind had dropped a little so I rigged a slightly bigger kite and set about some unhooked grabs and tricks. I landed a handful of bigger tricks to and finally came off the water tired and achey around 4pm! That seems like a good day in the office!
(Enjoying the new Naish Park) I stayed over that night to wake and find another small wave, and took the waveboard again but once more it frizzled away with the tide leaving a freestyle session to be had! Aching already from top to toe I managed a few hours before heading back to the Lake District for a warm shower and a soft bed! It was a great couple of days made good largely by the waves that first morning and it was fab to have the old crew of Dave Ibby, Ian Edmundson and myself back together! Watch this space for a mag article! Im going to see if I can twist kitesurf arm to print the better images from the day! Thanks to Ian at for taking the photos. Heading to Portland this weekend in Dorset! Im running a short burst session weekend for people looking for some quick hint and tips in freestyle if you are looking for some quick hints and tips in wave riding then check out the website for some of Dom's courses.