Kitesurfing: “It feels like a big playground”
To practise kitesurfing, you have to love both the water and the wind. However, it goes with a price tag, because you need a kite, a wetsuit, a harness and a board. What you get in return is priceless though: cruising along the coastline, floating on the sea, or making freestyle jumps and tricks. A spectacular sport with endless posibilities that’s ready for its debute at the Olympics in Paris in 2024.
It is estimated that there are 1,5 million kiters around the globe. For Andrey, kitesurfing means much more than a sport you just practise now and then; it’s a lifestyle. Being an expat in The Netherlands, he feels completely at home in the Dutch waters: “Holland is a great kitesurf country that has yielded several world champions. As the sport will become olympic as well, I expect it to become even more attractive.”
Andrey was first introduced to the sport in his birth country, Bulgaria. As a young kid, he used to spend the whole summer in the town where his father is originally from, at the Black Sea. It was there where he got hooked to watching windsurfers. He was dying to try it as well: “After five years of work I saved up enough money to buy my own windsurf gear. I loved it, and I will always remain a windsurfer by heart, but after eight years I wanted to try something new, so I started practising kitesurfing. I found out that it doesn’t matter whether you practise wind- or kitesurf, they give you the same sense of freedom. I started at the age of 20, so I don’t compete in kitesurfing. Nowadays, they already start teaching children from the age of 6 with mini kites.”
Andrey says that he doesn’t need to compete to get the satisfaction he needs: “Mother nature is your ally. You have to be able to read the wind and feel the waves so that you can play with them. Kitesurfing gives me so much energy that I’m unable to stop smiling after a session. I love the water, the beach, the sun, the whole vibe. Even during cold winter days. I see it as a calling.”
Of course there can be tough moments as well and kitesurfing is not entirely free of danger. The wind for example can be a real challenging factor and on an emotional level this can sometimes lead to disappointment and frustration. Andrey: “To remain calm I play a movie in my head, I visualize the movements I need to do. Also, I do small functional exercises to stay strong and flexible.” For safety reasons, it’s important to have a good teacher. Andrey also learned and improved a lot by reading about the sport and by watching Youtube videos: “Little by little I got better. Thanks to windsurfing I had a good basis and it made me understand the wind. In the end it’s worth all the efforts. You fly along with the birds over the water and you touch the water with your hand while you ride. It feels like a big playground to me!”
Andrey has worked and lived in several countries. When you are a kitesurfer, it’s easy to make friends. He explains that when you see the passion in someone’s eyes and the raise of their adrenaline level by the speed of the wind, you know that you speak the same language. Andrey hopes that the time and money investment doesn’t stop people from trying the sport: “It’s a big advantage that the modern material has gone through a big evolution; where you first needed three different kites, now just one does the job for several circumstances. This makes the sport already more accesible. It’s also pretty comfortable that the equipment is relatively easy to carry along. I always use public transport to get to the beach. Everyone should try it, it can change your life!”