Cabrinha UK kicked off the first youth training camps in 2008, culminating in the announcement of a full year sponsorship to one of the lucky riders. Much to 15 year old Dan Sweeney's surprise, his name was called to the podium.
You participated in the first Cabrinha youth program in the UK. Can you tell us a little about it?
I heard about the youth training from a good mate and it was to basically to meet some international team riders such as Andre Phillip, Susi Mai and Dave Hastilow and to help all the youngsters in the UK. But to mostly help and support the future of the younger kids who will make a mark on kitesurfing. But not just terms of riding but tuning kit, working on profiles and learning new tricks. As the first year of the Cabrinha youth training we didn’t know what to expect but it was really good to meet people your own age, learn new stuff and get your name out there.
At the end of the year, one rider was to be chosen and would receive a year’s contract through Pryde Group UK which encompasses Cabrinha Kites and NPX Wetsuits. I worked extra hard in my riding, media coverage and my profile. Much to my complete surprise at the last BKSA freestyle event of the year, the winner was announced and I won!!! It completely surprised me and I would just like to thank Cabrinha for this amazing opportunity and thanks to all the riders who put me forward for the deal.
What was the most important thing you learned?
The most important thing I learnt was just to set the right impression to who ever you meet- just always give the same positive attitude to everyone. But just always give it your all, don’t do things half heartedly and try your best as every aspect in what you do from emailing new sponsors to taking your riding further.
How did you get into kiting?
I first saw land boarding in my local park in 2005 and thought it looked amazing. I saved up for ages and bought my first land kite and I was totally hooked and started doing kite loops and other tricks. Then I saw kitesurfing……that amazed me even more and sold my land kit and got on the water late 2005. My first half hour on the water was the most fun I have ever had and started doing jumps the same day. Hooked from there on…….
Do you enjoy other sports?
Definitely! I played a lot of rugby at school but I skate, trials bike, mountain board, wakeboard, surf and recently went snowboarding for the first time but of course kitesurfing is the sport for me.
Where would you like to take your kiting? Competition? Freeride?
At the moment I really want to focus on my competition riding, but still freeriding and having as much as possible. I think finding the right balance between freeriding when you want and training is really good. I love having good freeride sessions but for me going to competitions and showing what I do and trying to do as well as you can gives me more that little bit more satisfaction. For me it’s just another personal goal that can take you further.
What difference do you see in style between young riders vs. the older generation?
If you look at riders such as Andre Phillip or Aaron Hadlow they have found the way they want to go in the sport and they have their distinctive style. But I think for some younger kids, you can’t totally tell their set style as we're still learning and coming up with new stuff and haven’t found a set path to go in the way of style. Some youngsters have found the style they want to go, if it be big air and technical board offs, to wave riding and kitelow wakestyle moves.
What advice would you give to other young riders?
If you know what you want and have your dream just go for it 110% and give it your all. Try and get to the Cabrinha youth trainings as they will really help. If you have your sites set to follow in Aaron Hadlows footsteps just go for it, you can only try your best. Just get your riding to a standard your happy with, get on your computer make yourself a website, get mates to take pictures and get your profile sorted and hopefully you will get picked up with your potential and you’ll reach your goal. But from wanting to do PKRA to learning your first backloop, just use the same enthusiasm and determination and you’ll get there!
What direction would you like to see kiteboarding go?
Kiteboarding is still a really young sport and I think it can go in so many different directions, but for me I would love kiteboarding to be in the Olympics for sure. I think everyone should do what they want from just riding and having fun to the competition side of riding. I think the wakestyle side of riding makes the sport look really good. Just make it look good in whatever you do, be professional and the sport will grow and grow and become more recognised.
What are you working on for 2009?
2009 for me? Well, where do I start…… I’m just braving the winter in England and learning as much as I can. My goals for this year are to compete in the British competitions, in the waveriding discipline as well as the freestyle. Another goal is to complete a channel crossing from England to France, that’s just a personal thing I have always wanted to do and it’s taking loads of organising. I had the launch of my website on the 1st of January this year which was cool to kick the year off. Just chasing my dream…
For more information on Dan Sweeney, visit him at http://www.dansweeneyuk.co.uk