Interview with Audrey Meyer
Audrey Meyer is one of the top 10 Finalists in our “Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer 2011” competition!
We caught up with Audrey recently, and this is what she had to say…
Audrey, tell us a little bit about yourself or your story.
I started my love for watersports when my brother introduced me to windsurfing at the age of eight during our summer vacation in the South of France. I fell in love with the sport and the ocean straight away.
I then moved when I was still a teen to La Reunion (a French island in the Indian Ocean) to study sports management and follow my passion.
Once I graduated, I went to Cabarete, got a summer job as a windsurf instructor and discovered kiteboarding in 2000. I got hooked right away! My life had changed!
After a couple of months in the Caribbean, I went to Maui to spend the winter and get some wind and waves. I learned to teach kiteboarding and became a certified instructor.
I returned to Cabarete, started teaching kiteboarding and opened one of the first kiteboarding schools, Dare2fly, in Cabarete in 2001. Ten years have passed, and I still enjoy every single day, sharing my passion for the sport and running with love Dare2fly Kiteboarding School.
I enjoy motivating and inspiring everyone to achieve their individual goals through kiteboarding.
Living a life of total freedom and happiness has always been a priority for me. Kiteboarding brought me this bliss.
I started wellness retreats based around kiteboarding, watersports and yoga in Cabarete because I want everyone to feel good and enjoy life. I believe kiteboarding can be the key to unlocking good spirit and well-being.
Where are you from?
I am originally from France (Strasbourg), moved to Reunion Island (in the Indian Ocean) to pursue my passion for the ocean, as well as surfing and windsurfing, and then settled in Cabarete in the Dominican Republic in1999.
Where do live and kitesurf now and what brought you there?
I live in Cabarete, on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, where I moved 12 years ago for windsurfing and spending a good summer. Twelve years later, I am still here, enjoying my life and calling it home.
I kite every day, on kitebeach, which is where my office is – on the beach!
How often do you kite?
I have one or two sessions per day (when it’s windy), which is about 300 days a year. The best session is a session with my friends and sunshine!
Favourite kitesurfing spots?
My favorite kitesurfing spot is my home spot, Kitebeach Cabarete. It is perfect on the inside bay for freestyle and awesome on the reef for wave riding.
I also love to kite downwind to Playa Encuentro, which is a beautiful, uncrowded place for wave riding.
Do you have any sponsors? Who are they?
I am so thankful to my sponsors who believe in me and help me in reaching my goals.
Thanks to Maui Jim, who has awesome shades and keeps my eyes protected from the strong sun, and Ipure, which gives me balance, energy and strength.
Apart from kiting, what are your other Interests?
I practice yoga on a daily base, which helps me stay focused and strong. I am also doing yoga on the paddleboard, and I teach classes (Yoga4SUP) on the ocean.
I stay in shape teaching some cardio and spinning class at the gym and love running and feeling the endorphins kicking in! Right now, I am training for the New York City marathon.
I love to surf, stand-up paddleboard and windsurf. I am a water person; the ocean is my favorite playground! I won the 2010 and 2011 “Master of the Ocean” title in the female division, which is a kitesurf, windsurf and surf competition in the waves.
How did you learn to kitesurf, who taught you and when did you start?
I started kitesurfing in 2000. I taught myself on a foil kite and an old 7’2″ surfboard on which my boyfriend screwed some foot straps! It was not easy; there was no one to show me what to do. It was challenging; that’s why I loved it!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your kite career and how did you overcome it?
As a girl, it’s hard to be taken seriously, especially at the beginning of kiteboarding. This was my biggest challenge while teaching and running my school: getting as much credit as my “male kiter.” Women always need to prove that they are knowledgeable.
Believing in myself, knowing what I wanted, learning about the physics of wind, repairs, tricks, techniques and, of course, practicing everyday has helped me get self-confidence and follow my dreams. I became a kite expert.
If someone thought I was still not credible enough, I would take my kite and show everyone what girls can do!
What is your proudest achievement?
In general, women express more emotions. But this doesn’t make them weaker! It is SO important to pass information – especially when you teach kiteboarding – with the correct approach because men and women experience things in such totally different ways.
My proudest achievement is when I am able to get someone – man or woman – hooked on kiteboarding because that means I was able to connect with the person, and this is really important to me.
What is your preferred riding style?
Ripping with style and grace.
What would you like to learn?
I would like to learn to kitesurf in big waves, to push my limits and surf the waves with pureness and bliss.
Who influenced you to start kitesurfing? Is there anyone you really look up to?
There are many people I look up to and adore. These people are people who teach me things about life in general – people who love me and make me realize things that I don’t see myself. People like my boyfriend, my brothers, my close friends, my yogi trainer.
In kitesurfing, I look at Ben Wilson’s style and just hope that ONE DAY I’ll be able to be remotely close to kitesurfing like him. He surfs the waves like a surfer. Forget about the kite; he just surfs the wave.
Describe a time you inspired someone to start kitesurfing?
I believe everyone can learn to kitesurf and literally do it. It’s just a matter of will.
Oftentimes, I get out of the water, after a nice session, and I see women looking at me with a spark in their eyes, and I know that they watched me riding and want to give a try. They realize, through me, that they can do it too. And that is beautiful!
In the sports world, female athletes can evoke significant public interest due to the great degree of technical difficulties required of them. Women like to identify themselves with athletic females, and this is huge to helping develop a women kitesurfing community. It gives every woman the willpower to try.
How has kitesurfing changed your life?
Kitesurfing was a life change – what brought me from the little shy girl to the happy women. It helps me to follow my dreams of total freedom and happiness.
It taught me to be strong and healthy (training everyday and performing at my best). It helped me to push my limits and be at the top of my game, with balance, muscle strength and speed of recovery. I had an ACL reconstruction after landing a big kite loop. I went back on the water, four months later, after an intense level of rehabilitation.
Kitesurfing brought wonderful people to me, which became my best friends, my lover and my sponsors.
Kitesurfing helped me discover beautiful countries, with different cultures, religions and allowed me to meet amazing people.
Kitesurfing is MY LIFE. And I am so blessed to have discovered it.
Video: Audrey Meyer Kiting
Besides kitesurfing, what are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about ocean sports. Being in the ocean, surfing the waves, gliding on water is just pure bliss. When I was a little girl, I would spend my entire day of summer vacation playing in the ocean in South of France.
Surfing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, swimming and, of course, kitesurfing are my favorite tools to play in my favorite playground, the ocean.
What are you doing for Kitesurfing in your community or globally?
On a single level, I want to help everyone get their confidence and strength to push their own levels of kiteboarding. I just put a special class together with a mix of cardio/core/plyometrics exercises for kiteboarders to help women and men push their limits and be injury-free.
My dream is to share my motivation and knowledge to everyone who needs courage to transform their minds, bodies and spirits toward a healthier, happier life through kiteboarding. I created a kiteboarding, surf n’ sup and yoga wellness retreat called BlossomRetreat.com, which offers the opportunity to develop kiting, build self-confidence and develop the inner athlete.
On a group level, I am helping organize group beach clean-up so we can keep our beach and ocean clean. We teach the younger ones about ocean protection through kiteboarding before the wind picks up.
The young generation is the future of kiteboarding and actually our future. We are their role models! By training young people to respect each other on the water (kite priority) and on the land (safety issues) and respecting the gear (rinsing off after each session, not leaving equipment in the sun, checking before and after each session, etc.), we bring the sport to a safer level and make it more enjoyable for everyone. I feel that we make a key contribution to society!
How do you think winning the 2011 Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer will shape your life and the positive work you are doing now?
Winning the 2011 Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer would be a huge reward for me, giving me positive feedback about my ideas, views and the way of life I have developed over the last 10 years.
It would mean that someone has the same ideas as me and wants to help push me forward in sharing my/our passion for kitesurfing.
It would give me huge fulfilment to know that people are supporting and respecting me.
What do you think the future holds for kiteboarding / Kitesurfing and what can we do to improve our sport?
Kiteboarding and kitesurfing have a huge future, especially because more and more people are getting into the sport, and younger ones, too.
The first big improvement was the gear: getting safer, lighter, stronger, better-looking gear (with cool designs). I wish it would become more affordable for everyone. But today there are more and more different companies, which gives a larger choice to the consumer.
The second big improvement was the techniques. The last couple of years, the level of kiteboarding has immensely improved. Today, you can see young 12-year-old kids sending some sick tricks that we couldn’t even imagine six or seven years ago!
Nevertheless, women’s performance should be given more attention. There is still not enough credit for women (less prize money for women in competition, less advertising for women, fewer women’s pictures in kite magazine). I am so happy to see, finally, the first new kitegirlmag.com! I am superstoked, but this took more than 10 years!
I think the future will go in a completely different direction and aim more at the mental and psychic kiteboarding benefits (as mental health treatment, for example, for depression, to reduce stress and anxiety and build good feelings).
Remember how you feel when you get out of the water after a good session? STOKED, right?!
I love to teach kiteboarding to students of different abilities because, when you get them hooked, those are the ones that give you the best reward for your effort.
We can all help and improve the sport to be more open to everyone, no matter their skin colour, sex, religion, culture, language, background or physical ability. EVERYONE can learn to kitesurf/board; the natural abilities are similarly distributed in each of us.
This is what we have to teach each other, and that is all it takes to make the world a better place!
What do you hope to achieve in the next few years?
Keep being happy and surrounded by loving people. The rest will follow …
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
For more about Audrey, visit her website at: www.Audrey-Meyer.com
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