Alison Shreeve, world champion sailboarder
-29th September 2007 - Media Man Australia
- 4th November 2007 - Triple M Dolphin Juice
Man Australia continues to report on some of Australia's
greatest athletes and world champions.
a personal note……..I was born in Sydney.
When I was 2 years old my family moved to a rural
property near Port Macquarie. I grew up riding
horses, mustering cattle and enjoying farm life.
We lived in a remote area so for some of my primary
years, I learnt by correspondence at home, but
moved into town for high school. I played about
eleven sports for my school reaching state level
in cricket, indoor cricket, and was age and state
champion in Athletics.
far as windsurfing is concerned……..When
I was 15 I chose windsurfing as a school sport,
and my parents bought me my first windsurfer for
my 16th birthday. My first coach March Jordan
saw potential and offered me free lessons on the
weekends. The following year I went to my first
youth World Championships in South Africa. I then
went to Finland in 1999 and in 2000 and came 2nd
at the ISAF Youth World championships. After coming
3rd in my first Olympic trials for Sydney, I then
campaigned to qualify for the Athens Olympics.
In two years I went from being ranked 55th in
the world to being ranked 4th. Despite winning
all the national events, I just missed out on
qualifying for the Games. I then went into Professional
windsurfing on the Formula class and came 2nd
in my first ever professional Formula regatta
- the European Championships. From there I was
able to secure some sponsors and by the end of
the year I won my first PWA World tour title.
In the following years I won nearly every event
in the Formula class including the World championships
in Melbourne (2005), Korea (2006) and Estonia
(2007). Along the way I have also broken the “A”
class world speed record in 2005 with a speed
of 27.7knots (51.3km/h) and hold the Australian
speed record of 32.84knots. I won the prestigious
Australian Female Sailor of the Year award in
do you do on a typical day?
When I have use of a car I train 5-6 days per
week on the water between 3-6 hours. I run 6 days
per week, 1 hour per day. I do my own gym program
on Mon, Wed, Fri for 2-2.5hours.
Apart from training a good deal of my time is
spent seeking sponsors, organizing upcoming regattas
(ie flights, accommodation, insurances, excess
baggage, entry fees, equipment, transfers etc),
work doing odd jobs to pay the bills, updating
my website, media obligations, and sleep!
are the biggest challenges you have overcome,
both in your career and life in general?
to juggle a Civil and Structural Engineering degree
with an international windsurfing ‘career’
was definitely a challenge, which I overcame by
simply putting aside university. It was just too
difficult to do excellently at both, so something
had to go. The disappointment of missing out on
the Olympics didn’t last long because I
re-directed my efforts on professional windsurfing
where I have been very successful. Financial pressures
are a challenge for anyone, but especially full-time
sports people. Securing finance to cover the costs
of the sport are always challenging. I’ve
overcome that difficulty by reminding myself of
just how good I’ve got it being able to
travel the world doing what I love, and while
my needs are always met, I’ve not yet been
in a position where I can save up for other things
in life. That’s where my faith in God kicks
in – I’m incredibly blessed and thankful
for what I have.
us about the 4 World Championships you won?
My first world title was the PWA (Professional
Windsurfing Assoc) World Tour in 2004. In 2005
I won the Formula World Championships that were
held in Melbourne, Australia so that was pretty
special because my family was able to attend.
That event had its challenges. On Day one a guy
sailed into our starting area and crashed into
me making me fall and put me 400 m behind but
I was able to catch up to 3rd place. Day 2 I broke
an extension leaving me with a DNF (Did not finish)
and then after being rescued and rigging up a
sail really quickly I just made it to the next
start in time only for a French guy to crash into
my ankle doing about 50km/h. After not being able
to move in the water for about 10minutes I thought
if it was broken I wouldn’t be able to stand
on it. Amazingly, I won that race but couldn't
walk or carry my gear up the beach afterwards.
I then spent the night in the hospital getting
xrays without much sleep before racing the next
day. My sister had to carry me around the beach
because I couldn’t walk properly...but I
could stand on a board! I managed to win the final
4 races taking out my 2nd world title, so I reckon
I really earned that one.
2006 I did 4 world titles in 6 weeks in 4 different
time zones and continents! I lost the PWA and
Slalom world titles by only one point coming 3rd
in both. Following that I came 10th at the Pre
Olympics in China, and one day later the Formula
World championships started in Korea. Half way
through this regatta I hit a crab net with my
fin on a down wind and split my board in half
from the nose, and ripped the fin box out of the
back of the board. I then won that race and the
2007 I decided to focus on my Olympic trials and
didn't do any professional events. After a very
disappointing result at the RS:X World Championships
I decided to go to the Formula World championships
in Estonia before coming back to Australia. Because
I wasn’t sponsored I had to buy new equipment
and use sails that were two years old because
that was all I had in Europe with me at the time.
I went to Tallin, Estonia and had no wind for
2 weeks prior to the event, so with only 2 days
on the board to get used to it again this was
my only preparation since the World Championships
the year before. I won every race which I have
never done before taking out my 4th world title.
I have never been able to drop (discard) three
1st places before, so that was pretty satisfying.
parts of the world has your sport taken you?
sport has taken me all over the world. Unfortunately
I don't always get to enjoy the country that I'm
in because the time between events is very short
sometimes and we are in and out quite quickly
with only enough time to train a day or two at
the venue before the racing starts. The countries
I have visited are South Africa, Finland, New
Caledonia, Denmark, Thailand, China, Korea, Germany,
France, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Holland, Estonia,
Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, Maui, USA, New Zealand,
Argentina, England, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece. There
could be more…..
Who do you look up to?
parents, Steve Allen (Australian Formula windsurfing
world champion), and someone I’ve never
met but who has inspired me is Kieran Perkins
with his Gold medal swim at the Atlanta Olympics.
you, what is success?
what you set out to do with integrity and fair
play. Perceived success achieved without integrity
and fairplay is common but doesn’t impress
me – there’s no honour in that. Real
satisfaction and happiness comes with success
that is earned through hard work and honesty.
so fit... what is your diet and training regime?
try not to eat after 7pm, I prefer 5 small meals
per day, with only once piece of bread maximum
if I can. If I know I'm going to burn off the
energy I allow myself some pasta or rice, otherwise
I try not to eat too many carbs. I don't cut out
any food group, I just eat less if I have to control
my weight. Fitness for me comes from discipline
with sensible eating, and regular exercise such
as the gym program already mentioned. Running
is good for me.
do you to do relax?
watch movies, read, hang out with my family, my
sisters and brother, and play my guitar.
the biggest misconception about you?
an international sporting lifestyle makes people
think I have plenty of friends all over the world,
but the fact is I go from regatta to regatta,
from one plane to another, or I’m on the
road a lot, or training by myself, so there’s
actually very little time for forming lasting
friendships. It can be quite lonely.
will you be doing in 10 years?
hope that I am married and have kids by then!
But I would also like to do some public speaking,
especially to young people because I hope I have
something to offer that would inspire and encourage
them to make the most of their lives, to never
give up. There aren't too many good role models
out there for teenagers and kids these days, especially
girls. I'm sure I will also continue windsurfing
for a while. I have few goals to achieve before
I retire, like breaking the outright world speed
record, windsurfing across Bass Strait, and qualifying
and competing in the Olympics.
note: We were delighted to raise the media and
publics awareness in Allison's endeavors. Allison
and Australia's world champion athletes are really
worth supporting every step of the way.
Shreeve official website
Man Australia secured Alison Shreeve the Triple
congratulations and thank you to Allison Shreeve
for supporting Movember