Kristin Boese – World Champion Kiteboarder
When I moved to the Caribbean in 2006, I was determined to take full advantage of all the outdoor activities that a warm climate offers. My husband and I signed up for scuba diving, tennis, and sailing. However, I shied away from kiteboarding and surfing because I assumed that both would inflict too much pain and suffering in the beginning.
32 year-old Kristin Boese, World Champion Kiteboarder, has changed my mind on that. She believes kiteboarding is the perfect girls’ sport. Kristen is the Founder for KB4girls, which is a world wide clinic tour committed to motivating female athletes in the sport of kiteboarding.
Kristin will be making her way to Tortola (my current home base) in the British Virgin Islands at the end of February to take part in the BVI Kite Jam. The inaugaral event takes place from March 1st-5th and was conceived by Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur and avid kiteboarder. World-class boarders from around the globe will be descending on the Islands to show-off their skills. Watch for more coverage in the coming weeks.
I had a chance to catch-up with Boese by phone at her home in Western Australia. I wanted to find out why she is so passionate about bringing women to the sport and if a 40 year-old mother like myself could hit the waves?
You have excelled in many sports. What drew you to kite surfing? (Kristin took up the sport in 2002 and started winning titles just one year later!)
I discovered my love of water quite late when I took up windusufing in 1999. Being one with the water and nature was new to me, but I loved it. Kite surfing came along and it was so much easier to learn and more enjoyable. I stopped windsurfing because I only wanted to kite.
Have you faced any challenges being a woman in this sport?
I think it is like most sports in that it is male dominated with guys earning more money. It is also much more difficult for women to go professional or to get coverage.
On the other hand, you just have to work for it harder and so it makes it more rewarding when you reach your goals.
Is this a sport where men and women are on par in terms of skill?
From a technical perspective, women are not able to do the same freestyle maneuvers like the men. But the women bring an elegance to the sport and it is beautiful to watch them. The freedom of the sport is conveyed more easily by women as their style is less aggressive.
In disciplines like course racing, women race together with men and the difference is not that big at all.
Some of our readers are avid surfers. Is kiteboarding easier or harder than surfing?
Kite surfing is much easier than surfing no matter where you are as long as you have wind. It will take a week to get on the board and from there you will be able to start doing tricks.
Surfing is quite difficult if you want to be able to ride decent waves. With kitesurfing it is much easier to get to a decent level.
Is it difficult for women to get into kitesurfing?
No, not at all! Kiteboarding is a great sport for women! They pick it up easily as they bring this little bit of extra feeling for the kite with them. At the same time, it gives them a good workout for the whole body; there is no better sport for women!
Is age a factor in taking this up?
For competitive kiteboarding it is necessary to take up the sport at an early age – sometime in the teen years. However, if you are doing it for fun age is not an issue at all! The oldest kiter I have met so far was 73 and had only taken up kiteboarding the year before. As long as you feel fit and ready for it you should just give it a go and take a lesson!
What is the learning curve like?
Generally speaking you should be up on the board and riding anywhere between 2 to 7 days depending on the conditions and the course you are taking. After the first week of riding you can start doing your first little tricks and after a few months you will be doing rotations and big jumps!
Where do you recommend that you learn this sport?
I would look for kite schools that are certified. It is easiest to learn on flat water, chest deep, with not too much wind (15-20 knots). Having a few days in a row to really get into it helps as you don’t have to start over again every time you try. I would recommend going on a kitesurfing holiday to really kick-start learning the sport!
What are your top 5 kite surfing locations?
1) Maui – I love being there!
2) Australia – Variety of different conditions to offer and is an amazing country!
3) South Africa – Flat water and waves on offer and you can also enjoy a cultural experience.
4) Pacific Islands – Too many great and stunning spots to mention.
5) Mauritius – Probably my favorite spot for kiting in the waves!
I haven’t been to too many places in the Caribbean, but look forward to seeing and experiencing more soon.
What age is appropriate to start children into this sport?
Children can start as early as 10. It really depends more on their size and body weight. Very small teens may have to wait a year or two longer.
What inspired you to start Kb4girls?
Originally, I started doing clinics to motivate more female kiters to get into competitions. During these clinics, I saw how great it was for the girls to kite with each other. Usually there are mostly guys around and it can be quite intimidating for some of the women. However, seeing other female kiteboarders motivates them so much that they forget their fear or hesitation! Kb4girls offers an opportunity not only to learn and improve your skills in the sport, but also to meet like-minded women. This helps build a sense of community and bring more women to kiteboarding.
So, if you have the opportunity to be in the British Virgin Islands for BVI Kite Jam, come and see Kristin Boese perform graceful acrobatic moves and take command of her kite and the sea. And hopefully you will see me out on a kiteboard too!