ERVIS Bay surf kayaker Tracy Gibson has paddled her way to be the best female in the world after she took out the world championships earlier this month.
The World Surf Kayak Championships were held in Queensland from July 9 to 21, with over 130 competitors battling it out at different beaches.
Gibson took out gold in the women’s high performance surf kayak class and was a member of the Australian team that won bronze.
“It was really great because this was the first year Australia has had enough people to enter the team event,” Gibson said.
It was an amazing comeback for Gibson, who came fifth at the world championships in Spain in 2007, but was injured during the 2009 world championships in Portugal.
Recovering from a shoulder reconstruction put her out of contention for the 2011 world championships in the US, but a lot of training put her in good stead for this year’s event.
Gibson’s individual class had 15 competitors vying for a place in the final.
“Because of the financial situation in Spain and Ireland, numbers were a bit down, but the top 10 women in the world all were there, which was great,” Gibson said.
Gibson came out firing in her first heat to progress straight through to the semi-finals.
Another great paddle in the semis led her to fight it out against two US competitors and one from Basque in the final.
With the support of her husband and two friends from Jervis Bay, Gibson had 19 minutes to produce two runs that would outscore the others.
“It was kind of a funny day as the sets were quite small, but I was lucky that I had chosen to sit right where the big sets come through,” she said.
Gibson’s score of 13.1 was over three points higher than second place.
It was a nerve wracking wait for Gibson to find out if she had won gold, with the judges waiting until the end of the day to release the scores.
“I can’t describe the feeling, it was absolutely awesome to finally get to number one – it was the happiest day,” she said.
“And in the men’s final there were three Australians and they took silver, bronze and fourth, so it was great that the men did well too.”
What was even more special for the full-time kayak instructor at Jervis Bay Kayak Company, was that the kayak she competed in had been specially designed for her by JBK’s director, Ross Boardman.
Gibson is passionate about raising the profile of the sport in Australia and regularly holds social events and weekends to get people involved.
She lives a short walk from Cave Beach and gets up early before work to get a paddle in.
She said the waves on the South Coast of NSW are world class and picked Currarong and Bendalong among her favourite beaches to take out the surf kayak.