Congratulations to Jennifer from Florida who won our #whodoyouXO contest on Social Media! We talked to her about how she got into kiteboarding, her new gear and her amazing future plans. Needless to say, we are stoked to have such ambitious and inspiring young woman in the Cabrinha family!
Hi Jennifer, congratulations for winning the XO collection. Tell us a little bit about yourself: Where are you from, how old are you and what are you doing?
Thank you, I’m stoked! I am 21 years old and in a few days I will be graduating from Florida State University with a bachelors degree in Biological Science. I’m heading off into adulthood and I’m only really sure of two things; I want to become a doctor and I want to continue kiteboarding for the rest of my life. I am so hooked on this sport and I am absolutely obsessed with the new XO collection.
What was your first reaction when you found out that you won the XO collection, and who tagged you to win?
I was honestly really surprised! When my mom and boyfriend entered me in the contest I was excited, but I never thought I would be the one to win. On the day of the contest winner announcement, I was constantly checking the Cabrinha Instagram page throughout class and in my research lab, so I was really excited when I saw the post. Although it was a bit hard to explain to my research coordinator why I was so excited about an Instagram post. During the contest I was always looking up any videos or reviews on the gear I could find and it was really all I talked about for about two weeks.
How did you get hooked with kiteboarding and what makes it so special for you?
This may sound a bit cheesy, but I honestly think it is the type of people that get into kiteboarding that make the sport so special. I used to be a ballerina and and after moving to New York City for a summer and considering it as a future career, I knew it wasn’t for me. I loved ballet, but I was often frustrated by how isolated, competitive and intense ballerinas were. Kiteboarding is so different because even though it’s still an individual sport, everyone on the beach wants you to succeed and progress and they are almost always willing to help you out or give advice. It’s such an amazing atmosphere to be in and I just really love it.
It also helped that I had sailed multihull’s throughout high school and at college I was just starting to wakeboard. I was stoked to have found a sport that combined all of my favorite aspects of each sport into one. I really like that kiteboarding is so physically demanding but also very technical. It is no doubt a challenging sport, but I think that it is also what makes the crowd so unique. The wind is not always perfect or ideal and the learning curve can be steep, but the people that do stick through it and show up to the beach consistently are there because they absolutely love it.
How would you describe your riding style and what goals did you set for yourself this year?
My goal this year is to really find confidence in myself and trust my abilities. I often find that I am a bit more hesitant than the boys in our club and I am trying to push myself out of my comfort zone. After using the XO collection I really think that it is going to help with my confidence because I feel as though I have complete control over the kite. It really is so responsive and even after using it for a few days I really think it will help me progress much faster and with less hesitation.
As far as my riding style I am not really sure yet how I would categorize myself because I would love to be able to do everything one day. I am keen to get on a foil board, as well as to surf waves and being able throw tricks one day would also be amazing. I have always believed that it’s important to build a solid foundation of the basics so that is what I have been working on, but now I think I’m ready to go a bit more out of my comfort zone. I am in it for the long haul and this is something I want to do for the rest of my life, so I don’t feel any pressure to achieve all of my goals at once or right away, but I certainly have a long list.
You’re involved in the first ever collegiate Kiteboarding club at FSU. Please tell us a little bit about it. What is your role and which achievements you are really proud of?
I’m not the founder of the first kiteboarding club here at FSU, but the person who was, Ryan Druyor, was the first person to introduce me to the sport and a few years ago. Now I am helping run the club as Vice President with my boyfriend being the President. Running a collegiate kiteboarding club has been a great experience and has also presented to have quite a few challenges. A common challenged faced by our club as well as many others is getting members to come back to the beach consistently. It is easy to get people interested in coming out for the first time because it is an exciting sport, but once people try it once and don’t get it immediately they often don’t come back. We have really tried to face this problem by easing people into the sport with an encouraging, no pressure environment. I think introducing the learning steps slower has really helped to get club members to come back because it can be discouraging to try to learn everything at once and not pick it up right away.
I’m proud to say that we had a really great turn out to a competition we hosted with Collegiate Kiteboarding Association this month and it was really nice to see so many of our local riders come out as well as those who came from other schools in Florida. I look forward to getting involved with USF kite when I move to Tampa and revamping the club to be able to host collegiate competitions there as well.
One of the things I am most proud of in our club is the amount of girl riders we have. Having come from a mostly male dominated sailing team in high school, I was used to being one of the only girls on a team. I often felt that this lead to me being treated differently or underestimated. So it is so nice to have other girls in our club which I think adds some diversity and shows other girls that they can do it too and not be intimidated by a male dominated sport.
What are your plans now after graduating college and what place do you think kiteboarding will take in your life?
After graduation I will be moving to south Florida and hopefully enroll in USF’s Morsani college of medicine. It was an easy choice considering it is one of the few medical school’s near a great kiteboarding location. I’m looking forward to being part of the Tampa Bay kiteboarding community and have already met so many amazing people from the area. I am actually hoping to revamp the USF kite club as well and be able to continue sharing my love for the sport with other students.
What’s your favorite kite spot and have you any trips lined up for the year?
I recently attended a competition in the Florida Keys which was a really beautiful spot and could potentially be my favorite so far, but I have never kiteboarded outside of Florida so I would absolutely love to go to as many new places as possible. In the short term I am really lucky to have this whole summer off so I'd love to travel somewhere tropical and kiteboard, but I just can’t decide where. Hawaii is definitely at the very top of my wish list. In addition I would love to kiteboard in South Africa one day, as that is where my family is from and it holds a special place in my heart.
What are your thoughts on equipment geared towards women and how do you like the XO setup?
I absolutely love the idea of equipment geared towards women. I’ll admit I was worried that equipment specifically for women would be too pink and over the top “girly”, but I really think that the design of the new XO collection has the perfect balance of embracing femininity while also being ”sporty”. The colors are absolutely gorgeous and I think the only way to truly appreciate how cool the kite design is, is to see it flying with the sun behind it. The XO design really pops and I love how unique it is. I also like how responsive the kite is and that it really makes me feel in complete control because it is stable and predictable. I was also pleasantly surprised by how what a wide range of conditions I can use it in. I got a 10m and was able to use it in really light conditions as well as pretty heavy wind conditions where I would have normally had to change sizes if using our really old club gear.
I still can’t believe how crazy lightweight the XO twin tip is and I love it. It provides a really smooth ride and holds upwind really nicely. I think the colors are just absolutely beautiful and the butterfly XO design is so cool. I also received the H1 straps and I really think they made a big difference in feeling secure in my board because I have never used such nice straps before. I know they aren’t specifically part of the XO collection, but they are so cushy and I think the toe grip is super underrated because I really like how it makes the board feel more secure on you feet.
We also set you up with a Fireball control system. What is your experience with it so far?
I absolutely love it. I got so used to my harness rising up into my ribs and it hurting the next day that I just assumed it was normal, but with the new fireball system that doesn’t happen at all anymore. It feels as though it’s a more direct connection to my body and since I am a small rider that mades a big difference for me being able to control the kite with my weight. The 360-degree rotation also makes the kite movement feel a lot more seamless and smooth. I also really like how easy it is to hook in and how it isn’t as bulky as a chicken loop.
Are you following what’s happening at the big competitions of the sport and are there athletes you like and follow?
I have just recently started watching the big competitions, but I have been following the competitors for quite a while. Me and my boyfriend don’t “Netflix and chill” we watch kiteboarding videos on youtube. I may be a bit biased, but I love following the girl riders because I find it really motivating. Moona Whyte and Therese Taabel are definitely some of my favorite kitesurfers that I look up to. I think it is so important to be able to have great girl role models in kiteboarding because they really help you visualize what is possible in your own capabilities. As a girl in particular it can be really frustrating to constantly see Youtube videos depicting girls as an accessory to grab attention or gawk at. That is why I really admire girl riders that break that stereotype and show the world what girls are really capable of.
Enjoy riding and the best of luck for your future endeavors, Jennifer!
Jennifer's set up: