Just six months ago Alana Blanchard had a baby with Jack Freestone, a little boy whom they named Banks. Since then she’s been busier than ever – juggling a baby, a partner, a career and a passion – travelling back and forth between Kauai, Hawaii and the Gold Coast, Australia, no less!
We caught up with her just a few weeks after giving birth and she said that it was going to take some time to get back in the water… that time has finally come. This June not only did she get back in to surfing, but she surfed heats in the Los Cabos Open of Surf and had a huge hand in running the event.
During a photoshoot last week we asked her a few questions about what it was all like… and just how good it feels to be back in the water.
Alana, can you tell us what it was like going to Cabo, surfing heats and running an event… with a baby!?
Yeah! It was such a different thing than what it used to be – I didn’t get to prepare for the event like I used to. Or surf as much as I used to. I mean, that’s what it’s like for both Jack and me… we’re learning as we go and we’re figuring out that we’re just not able to do as much as we used to. We used to surf two times a day easily, now that’s a distant dream.
My first heat in Cabo was actually the first time I got to surf Zippers, the event wave, in two years. I didn’t surf it last year and didn’t have time in the lead-up this year. But rather than putting pressure on myself I kept telling myself to have fun and that Banks was on the beach, it was all good. It was pretty fun once I wrapped my head around that.
And you had a fair bit of responsibility in running the event. Was that stressful?
Yeah, I actually brought my parents down to help a little bit. It was a bit hectic to be honest, but we just timed it with Banks’s feedings and all that. I just made it happen.
One day I would surf a heat, take Banks home, get him down for a nap, feed him, go back to the event, do some work there and then go back to Banks. It definitely was very intense but we just had to go with it, because there’s nothing we could do about it!
My first priority is for him to be happy and not stressed out. I really can’t afford to get too stressed out because if I do, he’ll feel it. You kind of have to laugh about it. The other thing was that both of my parents got sick, Jack had to leave early… all the mishaps were almost comical – but we just made it happen!
And you’re doing the Four Season Maldives event as well. Are you excited about doing more events and competing again?
I’m definitely really excited to do more surfing and get more into it again, but I really have to pick and choose what I do. I mean, Jack and I are kind of doing the same thing – it’s not like one of us is just chilling with the baby. We really have to work it out between us and see which things make sense. He’s doing the Tour full time, so… it’s just different.
I look up to Bethany and her family a lot and how much stuff they do – trips and surfing and events, Adam is a big support. I didn’t realise that because Jack and I are both professional surfers, we wouldn’t have the same opportunity to do as much. But every family is different and you can’t compare yourself to any other family. You just have to learn as you go and see how it all works.
Doing the Maldives event is going to be super fun, it’s a chilled out event and I think they surf a few heats a day and really want people to enjoy the resort, which sounds perfect. The only thing I’m not looking forward to is the travel there – travelling with a baby is a whole different story. I always try to get night flights now, so he sleeps more...
Yeah, how have you been going with the travel? Is Banks okay at flying?
It’s definitely hard but I’m getting more used to it. I just did my third international flight by myself – it was Los Angeles to Australia – and I mean, it’s totally different. The first time I had to fly by myself I was crying, thinking that I couldn’t do it. But it just gets easier and easier, and Banks is a pretty chilled little guy so that makes it good.
When you first had Banks you were pretty cool with taking your time to get back in the water. Has it been a good feeling to finally start surfing more often?
Yeah, it really is such a good feeling. It’s funny, I used to want to get so much done in a day – I needed to train, work out, surf twice, etc. But now that I’m back in the water I’ve really fallen in love with surfing again, and enjoy the time I’m in the water so much more. It feels so good to not worry about anything else and just have that space and time in the water – and because of that I’m okay with not being able to surf as much as I used to, or work out as much as I used to. It’s just not possible.
I really want to enjoy this year with Banks, the year that you’re not going to ever get back – the baby year. You know? Don’t get me wrong I definitely have some moments where I feel like I’m not surfing enough or that Jack is surfing too much – it’s not always chilled. But I just have to communicate with Jack when I feel that way, and he gets it – he totally does. We always take turns. For example he’s competing full-time so right now – he’s going to be away for two weeks – and when he comes back I’m going to be like, ‘Okay please take him! I need to surf!’
What’s it been like to start training and working out again?
At first it was really strange. And because I’m breastfeeding I’m not overdoing it. But the cool thing is that I’m not as worried about what I look like – definitely not like I used to worry. I’m just like, ‘I’m a mom now!’
It’s not a big deal – I’m proud of what my body has done. And it’s really cool to be able to say that six months ago, I was pregnant – and today I feel really good and strong and healthy. I feel more… confident... in a weird way. After you give birth, you feel like you can do anything!
Yes you can Alana! We can’t wait to see you in the water more and more, and Banks, too!