Windsurfing: Bradley wins New Zealand title after 10 years

Queenstown's Sue Bradley on her way to winning the open women's title at the national slalom...
Queenstown's Sue Bradley on her way to winning the open women's title at the national slalom windsurfing championships in Dunedin last weekend. Photo by Dave McFee.
Ten years after entering her first New Zealand slalom windsurfing competition and just shy of her 50th birthday, Queenstown windsurfer Sue Bradley achieved a long-held dream on Otago Harbour last weekend.

Having come a close second to Christchurch-based friend and rival Annie Crombie for the past two years, Bradley was determined to make 2009 her year and become the national open women's slalom windsurfing champion.

"I'm turning 50 in two weeks' time and next year I will be in the masters class, so this was my last chance," she told the Otago Daily Times.

The four-day regatta involved 21 races and after the first two days, Bradley was a clear favourite, well ahead of Crombie.

"Everyone was saying it was my race," she said.

However, lighter winds on the third day threatened to see her lose her composure.

"In the previous two years I had been winning at the end of day two but then lost it," she said. "I had an emotional battle to contend with as well."

Originally from England, Bradley has been windsurfing for 30 years and has a long history of supporting the sport in New Zealand.

When she first came to the country for a two-month holiday, she fell in love with it and decided to stay.

Having worked in Greece as a windsurfing instructor, she contacted Windsurfing New Zealand and offered her help to set up a schools training programme in Christchurch.

She credits that with helping get her residency and later New Zealand citizenship.

Living in Queenstown brought a few challenges to serious competition, although training on the fresh water of Lake Wakatipu also meant she had an advantage when moving on to salt water where jibbing and turning was easier.

However, the lake's depth made it too difficult to set up buoys, so she was less practised than her Dunedin and Christchurch counterparts at cutting in close during matches.

This year it was perhaps her dogged determination that she had to win that got her through.

"I was determined this was my year," she said. "It was an event of anniversaries - 15 years since I came to this country, 10 since my first entry into this competition and 30 years since I began windsurfing."

She was also very aware of younger talent coming through the ranks.

"I was a bit afraid they would catch me up," she said.

Having achieved her goal, Bradley said she would be more relaxed about competing in the future.

"This year has been a lot of hard work and a bit stressful, to be honest. I will still compete but I will be much more relaxed about it."


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