Mount Maunganui-based Billie Scott has just come away with a record-equaling third place finish at the 2023 ISA World SUP & Paddleboarding Championship amidst a stacked field. NZSJ’s Isaac Chadwick caught up with her to see how she was feeling after a whirlwind few days.
It was a tough road to the final for Billie as she had two close heats beforehand, placing second in both heats, which were low scoring, tight affairs.
When the buzzer sounded for the end of the semi-final Billie was more than excited.
“I couldn’t believe I made the final, so it already felt like a win,” Billie offers enthusiastically. “The field was super stacked this year, with many legends and world titles across multiple water sports in my heats [including big-wave surfer Justine DuPont]. I was feeling pretty calm and more excited than nervous for once. Just to make the final with this year’s competition was a big feat for me, so I was just stoked to surf and give it my all.”
Unfortunately, by the time the final arrived, the wave quality had dwindled, making for difficult conditions.
“A shame the waves were tricky, I didn’t get the opportunities to surf my best, but that’s just comp surfing and I was wrapped with the bronze,” Billie shares.
Billie’s bronze medal equals that of the bronze Stella Smith won in 2018, which is the best result for New Zealand in SUP surfing.
For someone who had never been to or surfed in Europe before, the adventure of getting to the comp was quite something.
“Oh man, it was a journey to Les Sables D’Olonne to say the least,” Billie laughs. “It was a long way with a lot of gear. The hardest part was actually the trains, we were all set to go but they didn’t want our boards put on. I spun a few yarns that we were competing the next day and managed to convince them they would fit so it was a four-hour train with the boards stood up by the toilets.”
Getting to experience a new environment and culture was another highlight for Billie.
“Waking up and checking the waves the first morning was exciting, getting in the water definitely helps to get used to the new surroundings,” she explains. “The jetlag got me pretty good the first three days. After going pretty hard on the training I felt pretty run down, but caught up on sleep and was good to go. It’s my first time in Europe so I’ve been soaking in every moment and trying my best to get amongst the culture. I will definitely be back to explore more.”
Even though she was on the other side of the world, Billie explained that she stuck to her normal routine when it came to preparation for her heats.
“I tend to stick to my usual pre-comp routine,” she adds. “The week before the event, I try to get in a few short free surfs to see what boards work in the conditions and then make sure I’m resting and eating well. On the day of the comp, I wake up early to get my feet in the wax before my heats, from there it’s mostly mindset and keeping calm for me. I tend to get nervous pre-heat and I was really proud of how I handled this year actually. I’ve definitely been working on that as it has been my weakness for a long time.”
“Self-confidence has been a big goal for me this year,” Billie continues. “I set lots of small habits to work on. So having done the physical and mental prep before heading off, and keeping the commitments to myself over the year really built up my self-confidence. Instead of making just the event my motivation, I was more focused on my overall growth and mindset. These events always inspire me in all aspects so I was excited for that.”
The support from back home in New Zealand is an aspect of overseas competition that Billie always appreciates.
“My mum and dad were on the phone pre and post heat hyping me up, but far enough away that their nerves didn’t flow over to me so much,” laughs Billie. “My team and friends over here were so supportive, keeping me calm and waving the flag all day long! Big thanks to my friends and family back home for the ongoing hype and support – it was a lot of late nights for them tuning in live.”
“Self-confidence has been a big goal for me this year. I set lots of small habits to work on. So having done the physical and mental prep before heading off … really built up my self-confidence. Instead of making just the event my motivation, I was more focused on my overall growth and mindset.”
With a bronze medal bagged it wouldn’t be France without a few cheeky reds to celebrate Billie’s achievement.
“Well ISA’s are known for the post event social side of things,” giggles Billie. “Over the past years competing in El Salvador and Puerto Rico, I’ve made a lot of lifelong friends. We are a pretty close community in SUP/paddle so it’s pretty special being together and celebrating. I have friends who feel like home from all corners of the world now, so just being in a new place together is a blast – it feels like one big surf holiday. It is still early in the event, so I’m excited to support our racers and look forward to us all celebrating the sport at the end of the week, too.”
Finally, Billie had a message of thanks for all the support she has received.
“I would also like to say a massive thank you to my friends, family and sponsors for helping make this trip possible. The fundraiser support was incredible and I am beyond grateful, so stoked to get New Zealand the medal!”
Christchurch surfer Amelie Wink also contested the 2023 ISA World SUP & Paddleboarding Championship and managed to make it all the way to Round 3 before unfortunately being knocked out in a tough repechage round heat. Whangamata’s Karlos Aarsen battled through numerous repechage rounds before being knocked in Repechage 3 in what was also a stacked side of the men’s draw.
Gallery: New Zealand’s 2023 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in pictures.