Next up, in our series of British women leading the charge, we catch up with Devon’s Peony Knight, who just backed up a solid start to her year in Isreal with semi-final finish at The Primavera Caparica SurfFest WQS.
Like Ellie, Peony was carrying a good level of momentum through from last year, which was her second competing regularly on the WQS and saw her land a string of final round finishes which saw her firmly into the top 100 and secured her a spot in this years WQS 6000’s.
We caught up with Peony on her return from Portugal to talk about her winter prep, her experiences competing in the international ranks and her plans for the future.
WL: How have you been preparing over the winter?
PK: This winter I spent three months surfing perfect waves in Indonesia. It’s hard not to improve when you’re in this part of the world! The Indo reefs rise up from deep waters and your surfing has to match the power and energy of the long period southern Ocean swells – it’s a real challenge!
I then went strait from Indonesia to Australia where I competed in the first two 6000 women’s QS events of the year. Competing against some of the best surfers in the world was intimidating at first but it was also really exciting and I decided to see it as a challenge. I came back to Europe feeling so motivated for the year ahead.
WL: What’s the main difference between competing at home and competing in the QS in Europe?
PK: First of all, I love competing at home- we are really lucky in the UK to have both a pro tour and the amazing National comps run by the NGB (Now Surfing England). However there is no doubt that in Europe the standard of surfing and the intensity of competition is way higher. Instead of having just a few competitors competing at the top level, there are sometimes as many as 96 and they all have the same goal, to win! If you don’t go into every heat surfing at your best ability, there is no way you’re going though. Those international contests are highly competitive and this drives my desire to raise my own level to win heats. Its worth remembering that a lot of summer comps in Europe are not necessarily held in perfect surf though- sometimes the surf in the UK comps can be amazing- if you think about places like Thurso, or Croyde or Fistral when they are pumping.. a really good contest swell at home is every bit as fun as doing heats in summer waves in Spain.
WL: What do you think of the standard of women’s surfing in the UK?
PK: The standard is definitely on the rise. Keshia Eyre, Lucy Campbell & Emily Currie are all girls that I have been competing against regularly over the last few years and they all rip! And Ellie Turner has raised the bar again in the last 18 months which is so exciting- the English girls are doing well across the international scene.
WL: What are your plans competition wise for the rest of the year? What are your major Goals?
PK: My seeding from last year has put me in a good place for this year. I’m competing in all of the 6* QS events globally, and all of the European QS events. This summer I’ll be doing lots of training with Initiative surf in Costa Rica before the Mexico and El Salvador QS events. I’m going to work hard on improving my competition game and power surfing. A QS campaign might take a few years – you have to get experience at first, then build up a seed, that takes a year or 2, and then work your way up through a really competetive field. Its a long haul and people often need to have a break along the way- look at girls that are making an impact on the QS this year- like Claire Bevilaqua and Marissa Shaw- they have done a campaign, then had some time out, then come back full of new energy and are doing really well… so this is something you have to work hard at. My goals for this year are to finish in the top 40 on the international women’s rankings, and to finish in the top 4 in Europe rankings. Long term, I can only talk ambitions, but It would be an absolute dream to be a part of the Olympic GB team.
WL: Thanks Peony and good luck this year!
Cover photo: WSL// Laurent Masurel