At only 25 Allison Shreeve has already claimed the Formula Windsurfing World Champion title. Her windsurfing career began seven years ago when she chose the sport during Port Macquarie High School’s summer program. We caught up with Allison when she opened an exhibition in her honour at the Maritime Museum.
> You’re back in town to open an exhibition at the Mid North Coast Maritime Museum, tell us a little about that.
About a year and a half ago Rod from the Maritime Museum rang me and said he would like to do a feature on me for a year. At the time I thought I was too young to have an exhibition. I was really honoured that he chose me and some of my achievements I’ve made in such a short amount of time. Hopefully this maritime museum will be an inspiration to other school kids and women trying to get into sport and just the general public as well. It really is a great exhibition and he has done a great job, there is a lot of information to get through so I hope people take time to enjoy it.
> What did you enjoy most about living in Port Macquarie?
There are so many things. I grew up and went to school here which was awesome; I went to Port Macquarie High School. The beaches and the community are wonderful, it really is a lovely place to grow up not to mention it’s safe. You can windsurf on the Hastings River where it is safe away from sharks. Overall it’s just a great place.
> How did you get into windsurfing?
I chose it as a school sport at Port Macquarie High School and Mike Jordan my first coach saw that I had potential and suggested I come down on weekends and he would teach me for free – so that was really how it started for me. I would be sitting in Math’s class watching the waves break and just wishing I could be out there wind surfing every day. I grew into the sport really quickly and within seven months was in my first year of tours.
> I imagine that windsurfing is quite a difficult sport to make a career out of, how hard was it to break onto the world tour?
It was easy to get onto the world tour, but it’s hard to make money out of the world tour. Last year I won every single event and only just survived financially and that’s being fully sponsored with equipment. It is difficult because it is an expensive sport, you have to pay for all your flights, accommodation, entry fee’s, insurance and everything else basically to compete. For Olympic class you have to buy all your own equipment. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some industry sponsors to help me through next year to take a bit of the pressure off.
> You have won many titles already in your short career do you have favourite career highlight?
I think my first world title will always be a highlight which was the PWA World Tour title in 2004. It was my first year on the World Tour and no one knew who I was; I just rocked up after being on the ‘A class’ for several years and beat everyone, so that was fun. All my World Titles are very special to me. Last year I won the Formula World Championships in Sydney which my family came to see. It was great to win a title on home ground with my family there to see. The World Speed record is special as well because you can’t do too many World Records in Wind Surfing except for speed or long distance.
I am hoping to win the outright Womans World Record for Windsurfing which 41.25 knots, the mens is 48.7 knots. We are all going for the 50 knots mark which is a barrier that no-one has got to yet, so maybe we can get that this year or next. Who ever gets the record for getting to 50 will be remembered forever.
> So that’s a bit faster than the record you just achieved isn’t it.
Yes, the A Class World Speed Record I got has been with a sail area between 10 and 15sqm, so with such a big sail area you can only go in a certain amount of wind, because the windier it gets you can’t handle that size sail. I was hoping to get over 30 knots for that record but as it turned out on the day for the record the wind was on a very bad angle for the canal. It was very gusty and every time the wind hit the board it wanted to flip, which made it a very uncomfortable run down the canal. I was fortunate to get the record in the first place given the conditions and that I didn’t really have proper gear for it.
> What is the worst moment in your career to date?
I’d say missing out on the Olympics. That was something that I had worked towards for eight years. I only just missed out on the trials even though I was ranked 4th in the world at that time and I came 4th at the World Championships that year and came second in the event two weeks before the trials. But I missed out on the trials, despite all that. I think most people in that situation would have gone back to Uni after that or returned to work. I decided to stay in Wind Surfing and went professional that year which is when I started winning the World titles. I turned a bad thing into a good thing, it wasn’t a low for very long but that’s probably the worst bit.
> You have windsurfed all across the globe, do you have any favourite spots?
I train on Sydney Harbour and that is just beautiful. Something that is really fun about Sydney Harbour is the conditions shift a lot depending on the wind and you get the ferries coming past creating big waves so I can get a little bit of air off my board. I love surfing in Port too, although it gets difficult with the tides and shallow spots at times, but still a great place to surf.
As far as overseas goes the Greek Islands are good, there is a nice constant breeze which is great for training and Maui is fun too. It really depends on what you want to do. You know where you need to go if you want good waves or if you want a good speed spot you go somewhere flat.
> With all the travel and competitions how often do you get to come home and relax with your family?
I think last year I had two months at home. Even when I’m in Australia I’m travelling to events here in Australia. I have been in Melbourne a whole month since I got back plus I went to South West Rocks for a week. I’ve had maybe a month at home since I got back in November and I’m off again for eight months soon. I would like to spend more time at home, I know a lot of Europeans get to spend the winter season at home and go skiing but I have to come home and do the Australian season – its a never ending summer for me.
> Thanks for your time.