Interview with Davina Stephens
Davina Stephens is one of the top 10 Finalists in our “Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer 2011” competition!
We caught up with Davina recently, and this is what she had to say…
Davina, tell us a little bit about yourself or your story.
I was born in New Zealand in 1968 and went to Australia at age one. My father was an International Rugby Union player representing the All Backs in ’68, ’69. In ’70, ’71, he then played for the Wallabies, Australia, and became the first dual-country player.
By age 6, we had travelled around the world and decided to live in Bali, Indonesia — that was in ’74.
Bali is best known for its surf and Balinese culture. I quickly learned to ride a surfboard and, since there were no international schools at that time, I did correspondence school. By 1980, I decided I wanted to go to school in Australia and started to get into water skiing until the age of 15. I then went to boarding school in India, since my mother was working between Bali and India in textiles. I became a long-distance runner since the school was located in the Himalayas. It was trekking and athletics-orientated.
In 1987, I decided I wanted to be an artist, but I thought, “How could I make money doing what I wanted to do in life?” So I went to live in New York City to study textile design at The Fashion Institute of Technology.
After graduating in 1990, I quickly went back to Bali to work with people I already knew in the industry. I was back to the island life, which suited me, and I could get back into the sport I loved so much: surfing. The great thing about Indonesia is it’s an archipelago with fantastic locations for diving, surfing and, now, kitesurfing.
I quickly became the artist I always wanted to be and have had numerous exhibitions internationally.
Every year, I travel between my studio in Bali, family in Australia and recreation sport in the United States, where I mountain bike, hike in the summer and snowboard in the winter.
Where are you from?
I was born in New Zealand and studied in Himalayas, India and New York City.
Where do live and kitesurf now and what brought you there?
I live in my studio in Bali, travelling between Australia, India and the United States.
How often do you kite?
I kite when I am in Bali whenever there is the wind. This can vary, depending on the season. In the season, it could be 4-5 times a week, sometimes only once. At the moment, I am in Sumbawa learning to surf a great kitesurf wave location.
Favourite kitesurfing spots?
Indonesia – Sanur Beach and Serangan (Bali), Komodo Islands and Sumbawa.
Do you have any sponsors? Who are they?
Apart from kiting, what are your other Interests?
Surfing, diving, mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking, trout fishing and creating works of art.
How did you learn to kitesurf, who taught you and when did you start?
I learned to kitesurf this year, 2011, in May in Bali at Sanur with Mario at Rip Curl School of kitesurfing.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your kite career and how did you overcome it?
So far, my biggest challenge was dealing with my kite in dangerous situations. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t launch your kite, because of a dead-wind area and your kite is pulling you across supershallow, urchin-infested reef and heading toward a nest of fishing boats on shore with bathers around, you quickly realize no one is going to help you but yourself, so you kick yourself into response mode and go through all the logistics of the functions of your gear, and you have to believe that whatever happens, there is always the ability of recovery. Release, deal with it and assume responsibility. These are the experiences that make you realize your full potential and responsibility as a person.
What is your proudest achievement?Staying upwind.
What is your preferred riding style?
What would you like to learn?
How to maximize my energy for kiting, so I can kite all day.
Who influenced you to start kitesurfing?
Tim Watts (Indonesian surf pioneer).
Is there anyone you really look up to?
Valerie Taylor (marine biologist and shark diver) and Amelia Earhart (woman aviator).
Describe a time you inspired someone to start kitesurfing?
I just had to tell my friends I was doing it, and now they want to do it. Most are in practice now.
How has kitesurfing changed your life?
It’s given me a new vitality, the sense of being alive and purpose to travel.
Besides kitesurfing, what are you most passionate about?
Creating art, living a full life and sharing that ability with others.
What are you doing for Kitesurfing in your community or globally?
Searching for new locations and encouraging young kids to kite.
How do you think winning the 2011 Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer will shape your life and the positive work you are doing now?
I think that winning MIGK11 will give me the opportunity I need to help and influence women of all ages. To set an example that cooperation and encouragement by others in kiting and sports is vital in order to realize our potential.
What do you think the future holds for kiteboarding / Kitesurfing and what can we do to improve our sport?
Continuous growth and continuation in development of improved equipment. To improve our sport, we can at least discover more great kitesurfing locations around our planet.
What do you hope to achieve in the next few years?
Success in upcoming exhibitions and to be able to continue to pursue kitesurfing in new and unique, diverse locations.
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