I’m writing this article about competing in kitesurfing events because I believe you can all do it!
Let me be clear from the start that I am a 40 year old woman and am MILES away from being what I thought was ‘competition ready’. I’ve been kiting for 4.5 years and am not exactly a talented spring chicken unlike some of the groms you see out there.
As Board Member for the Women’s Kiteboarding Collective I have a duty to help women advance in the sport, and to educate and inspire. We’re always standing up for female kitersurfers and want to encourage more women to take up kitesurfing and to make sure we are treated equally and taken seriously!
I decided that it was time to practice what I preach and get out there. If women need to put themselves forward more then that applies to me too!
So I signed up for the South African Kitesurfing Association Wave Event with a gulp, but was also pleased to have something to work towards. I had been stuck in a rut with my kiting and wanted to also use the opportunity as a reason to improve my skills and push myself. It sure worked!
In the run up to the event my weaker gybes got better, I committed to each wave more,
I fine tuned my foot positioning, took better lines and got feedback from friends to help improve my posture and style. I’m far from pro, but my confidence improved and I felt like I was doing a much more credible job in the waves.
I also spoke to one of the organisers who very kindly chatted over some of the judging criteria to help me know what to practice imagining I was in front of them in the competition ‘box’. I found that lots of people are willing to give advice and it felt good to be having conversations where I would perhaps not have done before.In the run up to the competition I admit I was nervous and was even dreading the event.
I had discovered the competition was actually a national championships and all women would be competing together regardless of age or skill. It meant that I could be competing against pros in the same heats as there were not enough female entries to
split the competition categories into juniors, women masters, pros, etc. This has got to change ladies; we need more women to enter!
On the day it didn’t seem to matter. All the other female competitors were so lovely and encouraging. The nerves went to one side and the other girls helped me to know what to do and when, and even kited over to me in my warm up to signal my heat was starting.
The waves were small that day and the conditions for my level were almost perfect.
The 15 minute heat felt like 3 hours, but in a good way. Despite being an exertion, there was ample time to breath, select my waves carefully and think about everything I needed to do to ride my best I could in front of the judges in the competition box.
There was even a lovely moment when all the girls in my heat came together on the water whooping each other on, and another precious experience when I actually shared a wave with a penguin (for real!)!
I cannot believe I actually pulled it off. I was all set for embarrassing myself yet I can’t be more proud of my achievement. I’m sure this is a women’s way of thinking and I am writing this to tell you that you should believe in yourself and that you can do it too! Unbelievably I came 3rd in my heat, and while I still have a long way to go, I almost made it into the final and am now all set to make sure I do that next year! It’s got me thinking about what we can all achieve when we put our minds to it. You are awesome and if you don’t put yourself forward you might never realise your true potential!
I want to end by sharing a few reasons why you should try out competing. I bet some of these points would have never crossed your mind, and they didn’t mine until I got out there! :-)
Forget the traffic, you’ll get the wind, water and waves all to yourself!
You’ll be supporting the aspiring female pros as they need others to compare and compete against.
You will be empowering yourself to step forward in all aspects of life: not just in your kitesurfing but also with your career or otherwise.
The camaraderie is fantastic and you’ll leave having made new friends.
You’ll gain confidence and competence.
Local organisations need your entries and support so that they can continue to do the good work in keeping the beaches and sport accessible to you.
It’s a great way to push yourself without paying for coaching.
You might get snapped in action by the event photographer and have an awesome photo in action!
It’s a fun day out.
You’ll feel loved and supported for what you are trying to achieve.
Congratulations to the winners, and thank you SAKA for doing such an awesome job putting on the event. Special thanks for being open minded in allowing internationals to enter; doing so will help push your own talent and bring global recognition to the local area.
Good luck ladies: I am looking forward to seeing you compete!
When you do, don’t forget to share your experiences with us all via the Women’s Kiteboarding Community Facebook Group.
WATCH THE VIDEO FROM THE EVENT HERE
More inspirational story about women in kiteboarding world:
Bianca Forzano, owner of Bianca Bikinis
Maroean Mones, owner of Girlzactive
Julie Shaw, Overcoming fears and giving back