The first time I saw some kites was in 2008 in New Caledonia during holidays. My kitesurfing progression began in 2010 when a good friend, who is a complete kitesurfing addict, pushed me to try. So here we are, I took two kite lessons in Caen (north of France) and then bought a 9m kite and a board: I was going to Australia for the next 9 months and I would have time to practice. What I forget to tell you is that I was absolutely not able to kick my bottom out of the water, but the teacher told me: “you’re a girl, you know the basics and the safety rules, just buy some gear and everybody will coach you”. Quite funny but not wrong!
So, in Australia, at 22 years old, I was doing a ‘university break’ to travel and improve my English. I was working as a ‘au pair girl’ in Brisbane and had lots of free time to try kitesurfing. I practiced in Sandgate and went through the long and tough kitesurfing progression most of the people have to go to be able to kite: struggling with your kite, trying to understand how you can go out of the water on the board without going full speed without any control, then trying to go upwind on your wrong side, learning that when you lose your board it’s great to have some friend around at the beginning, being dragged on the beach by your kite because one line broke, or sometimes just because you were watching something else, and getting back home covered in bruises and cuts! Well, kitesurfing is quite difficult at the very beginning, and I can tell you I wasn’t the most gifted for this. It took me around 1 month to be able to kite! My only talent was to be obstinate and sporty, and maybe it’s the most important J
Kitesurfing progression and knee injury
When I came back to France, I was already addicted to this sport and with the feeling you always have something new to learn: I was like a little frog jumping all the time, trying new rotations and new grabs each time I could be in the water!
The last year of my engineering degree gave me the chance to do an internship in Pryde Group (the distributor company of Cabrinha) as a logistical engineer and my kitesurfing progression improved a lot with this new gear. I was now able to unhook, but was far from doing a handle pass for sure! Few months later, in September 2012 during a kite trip in Egypt, I landed quite badly on a simple unhooked backroll and my left knee just gave away: after an MRI, the diagnostic was an ACL injury (knee ligament).
Two months later I had knee surgery. After five months of recovery I rediscovered how good it is to kite, just sliding on the water is a high! But this injury has changed lot of things for me:
1- Be conscious of my body weakness: now, I never go in the water without warming up few minutes on the beach (knees and shoulders mainly). And I also go out of the water if I have a really bad crash because when my body is tired, nothing good can happen! I also do some workout exercises when I can’t kite for a long time.
2- Kite is awesome but it’s so much easier when you don’t bet everything on it! Injuries happen, and anyway, progression is not linear. If nearly all the kitesurfers dream to travel the world and to kite all the year, they may not be thinking about what may happen when everything stops suddenly. Recovery and confidence can take so long, more than 1 year for me because I was afraid to injure my knee again. It’s great to keep your mind busy and to work: I began to work as a project manager during this recovery time and working hard help a lot to spend the time!
How I went to freestyle and left my normal life
Beginning of 2014: I had a good job, I was kiting on weekend and holidays when it was windy enough and progressing a lot because I was always kiting with freestylers. Seeing another girl who is trying a railey blind and being pushed by your friends to try new tricks: this is a good recipe to progress in freestyle!
I also had the chance to go to Brazil 2 weeks and at the end of the year I was able to land railey blind, sbend blind, back to blind and shifty wrapped. Everything went so fast then: I met during a kite trip the French national coach who pushed me to start competing. Four months later I won my first unofficial competition and went to the 2015 French National; even if I only finished at the 4th place, it was a turning point that pushed me to train harder and to compete again. At the beginning of 2016, I decided to register in the World Tour first stop. With a good French national Team, the logistic was quite simple because all the French riders are moving and staying together, it’s so cool! My first event was not very conclusive, I lost my qualification heat struggling with 5.5m kite. It’s hard to focus on your heat when you’re discovering a world that you’re a big fan of. How great is it to watch Youri or Aaron in live or to compete against Bruna! I was more like a little kid with shining eyes than like a competitor who wanted to win.
But my 2nd international competition in France one month later was much better! I went through the qualification, winning my first 2 heats: that was my goal! I did it again in Germany in August 2016 where I won the qualification heat against 4 other girls and went straight into the main event, finishing in the top 12. Competition is so good when you win, but I have to admit it’s quite special: everything depends on the wind conditions and on your ability to go into your heat. I mean if you have some luck with the conditions because it’s what you like and you succeed to begin with a good trick, then miracles happen: you ride better than what you are used to do. But if you start with doubts because you think you don’t have the good kite size, or with a crash, I can tell it’s really tough for your mind!
I never thought I would live this life one year before! I left my office job in April to create my own company (I’m still working on it, it’s a big project in sport industry, but hope to tell you more in few months), I have more opportunities to travel and I’m so happy to be 10th on the 2016 World Tour! Next year, I will focus on the development of the company but should participate in some competitions again.
Never let somebody convince you that your dreams are too big. We build our own life, we have to follow our own way!
Living in Marseille area, France, Laura is a freestyle kitesurfer you could have seen competing this year on the word tour. She is a graduate Engineer who is now creating her own company and traveling to live her dreams.