1. How long have you been kitesurfing?
It seems like just yesterday but its been about 11 years since I started!
2. How did you get involved with the sport?
I first started sailing, then windsurfing and surfing, as well as competing in
both. Then, like many windsurfers, I got curious about kitesurfing! It was out in Maui
that I first tried kitesurfing, while I was waiting for wind for a windsurf competition, and Ben Hanbury, (BKSA Kitesurf Champion back in the day!) persuaded me to have a go. I wasn’t really interested in untangling lines or flying a kite, but straight after
trying body dragging in the sea I was hooked on this new sensation and thrill! From
Maui I went back to Wales, progressed a lot in the challenging UK conditions and waves, then started competing on the BKSA tour for fun and a challenge. set up my own Kitesurf school, became British Kitesurf Champion, then everything just grew from my passion to explore, teach, and push my limits.
3. Do you teach kitesurfing/ are you a qualified BKSA instructor?
Yes, I did the BKSA Instructor course in my first year of kitesurfing (over 10 years ago!!) I already taught windsurfing, surfing and sailing, and loved teaching, so the progression was to be able to teach and introduce others to kitesurfing also, and eventually set up a kitesurf school and run courses. I also did the BKSA coach training which is a great way to keep up to date on teaching and coaching guidelines, safety, and it’s especially useful for Instructors wanting to run higher level clinics, coaching, workshops.
4. How did you feel the BKSA helped your kitesurfing?
Being involved with the BKSA and events from the beginning, was one of the best and most important influences and experiences I had, for many reasons. The BKSA competitions, events, team and competitors were awesome!! I learnt so much from attending and competing in the BKSA events, riding at new locations, and most importantly it taught me how to have fun competing and riding with others. The BKSA events and experiences gave me the confidence and experience to compete Internationally, and connections I made, helped get me recognised and sponsored.
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, advanced rider or pro, in a sport like kitesurfing, it’s so important to have the correct training, advice, support and insurance, and I feel grateful that I had this from the beginning from the BKSA.
5. How many years did you compete on the British circuit?
I competed for about 4 years on the British circuit and events.
6. What is your greatest achievement?
Nationally, my best achievement was 3 X British kitesurf Champion, and 2 x British Wave Champion, and if I was in the UK more I’d love to do it all again!
Internationally, my best achievement was becoming 3 x Kitesurf World Wave Champion, and winning the Master of the Ocean title ( in men and women!)
7. Why did you decide to specialise in kitesurfing waves?
I decided to try out doing some International wave events when I was lying in bed unable to move from a broken rib, after bad freestyle crash during a PKRA freestyle event in Fuerteventura. Sometimes the best things come out of misfortunes! I believe that injury and sickness is sometimes (most of the time!) a way of our body and the universe telling us that we need to take time off to reflect upon what we are doing, and if it’s really good for us. So, from my reflections I chose to listen to my body and soul, focusing more on what had always made me feel good – being in the waves!
8. Is there anyone in the world of kitesurfing who inspires you?
Anyone who is loving what they do, not caring what they look like, and being kind to others and the ocean, is a great inspiration!! I can name so many kiters who I have met who inspire me!
9. Favourite place to kitesurf?
Madagascar, Wales, Ireland, and where I live, Dakhla!
10. What advice would you give for anyone looking to take up kitesurfing as a profession?
Whatever you want to do within the sport, make sure you do it because you have a deep passion and calling to do it, and definitely not to make money, gain fame, or to be cool! I would advise having a good base / foundation to start from, and to come back to. For example a profession, education, home, job, or just a healthy body and mind. For example, to be a successful professional rider, you need to be much more than just a good rider and competitor. You need to be a good communicator, writer, be able to speak other languages, be organised, have a healthy body and mind, and be motivated to get back up every time you get knocked down, and do it with a good and inspiring attitude!
11. Where do I see the sport in 5-10 years?
The sport is diversifying and has already advanced in so many ways, so now there is something for everyone and I hope this continues for the next 10 years, so everyone can enjoy their type of riding and kiting! I’m sure in the next 5 years there will be concepts, new records, new incredible journeys, and maybe even more disciplines within the sport. What’s being done and achieved in the sport and each discipline is already incredibly advanced, so its actually hard to imagine how the sport will evolve. That’s what makes it exciting, the unknown and undiscovered!
I hope the sport will move forwards in a way that brings awareness and attention to state of our oceans, coast and environment, so everyone can enjoy being on a clean beach, in an ocean that’s being cared for and appreciated, and not used and abused.
Enjoy the rides, and respect the elements, ocean and others!
Kirsty is sponsored by North Kiteboarding, Dakine, Fanatic and runs kitesurf, surf and yoga holidays at Ocean Vagabond in Dakhla, Southern Morocco. Please see her website for further details.