Gretta Kruesi is one of the top 10 Finalists in the “Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer 2012” competition!
Do you think Gretta should be crowned the most influential or most inspirational girl in kitesurfing this year? Read all about her in the interview below.
Interview with Gretta Kruesi
Gretta, tell us a little bit about yourself or your story.
Where are you from?
Charleston, SC aka “chucktown”
Where do you live and kitesurf now and what brought you there?
I’m currently based in California, between LA and San Francisco. I moved to the northshore of Maui a few years ago to pursue kitesurfing professionally. Maui is a very special place and I learned a lot about myself and my riding style while living there. I quickly realized however that kiteboarding alone couldn’t financially sustain the lifestyle I wanted. It’s too small a sport. Modelling, even painting, provided more income than kiting. After nearly two years of traveling on a shoestring I decided that if kiteboarding wasn’t mainstream enough to earn a living on, I would take kiteboarding to the mainstream myself. In late 2010 I packed my bags and moved to Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world. Despite its reputation for lack of wind, LA has killer conditions up in Malibu. Leo Carillo and County line are two of my favorite spots. Belmont Shores is best for teaching and course-racing.
Favourite kitesurfing spots?
Gretta Kruesi’s Top Spots to Surf the Skies
Do you have any sponsors? Who are they?
Naish Kiteboarding, Vitamin A swimwear, indoboard, swell shell, VOG Life, Las Olas, Surf For Life
Apart from kiting, what are your other Interests?
Surfing, painting, fashion, sleeping, hanging with my dog, seeing live music / DJ’s, dancing, and any excuse for a costume party
How did you learn to kitesurf, who taught you and when did you start?
I first learned in 2005 at the beach in front of my parents’ house on Isle of Palms, SC. Kiteboarding was still new to the area and I didn’t know any other girl kiters at the time. Hard to believe nowadays (Elea Faucheron has been a rock-star in creating our local girls kite club)! I owe many thanks to my former boyfriend and fellow kiter who took the time to both teach and watch out for me. Now that I also teach lessons and help friends, the tables have turned and I appreciate how much patience that takes.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your kite career and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge in my kite career was finding my niche and turning what I love into a real career. Kiteboarding is a small sport, with very little money compared to most national sports. As a female athlete, we earn even less. This made me nervous when I first became a team rider. Freestyle was the primary kite event for competitions. I would beat myself up for not being hard core enough. I was also getting more attention for how I looked than for how I rode. What I later realized is that the thing I was insecure about is what made me different, and actually worked to my advantage. Having a commercial look allowed me to take the kite-surf girl image to Hollywood and build sponsors, gigs and contacts around it. For all the pretty girls in LA, not many of them actually do ocean sports. I built my kite career by showcasing the amazing kite lifestyle and making the sport more accessible to the masses.
What is your proudest achievement?
*Kiting 100 miles, the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline on the East Coast, and the only US female to do so.
*Being recognized as one of LA’s leading female street artists.
*Being recognized as one of the most influential kiteboarders is definitely up there
iMK note: Awesome, thanks Gretta!
What is your preferred riding style?
Strapless surfboard, I’m obsessed with waves.
What would you like to learn?
Course-racing! Raceboards are a whole different animal. Now that I’m up in SF I live super close to Crissy Fields which is a premier race location.
Who influenced you to start kitesurfing? Is there anyone you really look up to?
The kiters I look up to most are Susi Mai and Kristin Boese. Over the past few years Susi has become a dear friend. She is one of the most widely recognized kiters (girl or guy) across the globe, and has had one of the most successful careers. She makes the sport sexy and fun. She has had a huge impact in creating the MaiTai kite camp for entrepreneurs. Forbes has called kiteboarding “the new golf” and Susi’s group not only has hundreds of followers, it’s comprised of the world’s most elite techies and VC’s. Kristin’s career is one of the most ambitious, and truly influential for our sport. From pioneering KB4Girls, the first successful female only kiteboard camps; to founding the KSP, the first true kitesurfing wave tour, to being an active voice on behalf of kiteboarding in the Olympics. I have only respect and admiration for her initiatives. Kiteboarding as a sport is still in the pioneer stage. I am truly honored to be listed alongside other women I admire tremendously.
Describe a time you inspired someone to start kitesurfing?
I actively promote kiteboarding and often tell others “hey if I can do it, you can too!” Usually I push my surfer friends who are sick of blown out conditions to start kiting. One specific instance that made an impact on me was teaching tech reporter Kym McNicholas. She had lessons before but was at the verge of giving up. Her take home value from our lessons was that “you can’t be a kiteboarder and a quitter.” That motivation inspired her to keep pushing and ultimately pick up the sport.
How has kitesurfing changed your life?
The biggest impact kitesurfing has had on me are the people I’ve met and the places I’ve traveled to. What other sport in the world takes you to events on Richard Branson’s private island, takes you to amazing exotic locations both surf and snow, and bump shoulders with the world’s top entrepreneurs? It’s the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had that have changed my life!
Besides kitesurfing, what are you most passionate about?
Street art, surfing and giving back to my community
What are you doing for Kitesurfing in your community or globally?
I personally take pride in being an active member of my community. My neighborhood in LA is Venice Beach. This past year I did a street art piece of a wave in the heart of Venice, partnering with the local high school and community members to start an action sports association for Venice youth. Kiteboarding has been a constant thread through my VOG brand and street art across the globe, and I actively include and build show concepts in media around kiteboarding.
I am also the kitesurf ambassador for Surf for Life, and teamed up with celebrities and surf pros to build a high school (see image below) while surfing in El Salvador.
How do you think winning the 2012 Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer will shape your life and the positive work you are doing now?
The title is an honor, especially with so many impactful female riders out there. Winning would mean a lot because it celebrates and gives validation to the work I’ve done.
What do you think the future holds for kiteboarding / Kitesurfing and what can we do to improve our sport?
Update: Sadly, the ISAF has reversed its decision to include kiteboarding in the 2012 Rio Olympics.
Kiteboarding is still in the development stages. I personally am working in production arts to promote the sport in the mainstream. I think that the recent coverage and opportunity to be a part of the Olympics is a huge opportunity to legitimize our sport and we should all do everything we can to support its acceptance. Sign the petition…
At your local beaches, encourage newbies to learn from a certified instructor. Lack on knowledge of rules and etiquette is the number one reason for injury and beach bans.
What do you hope to achieve in the next few years?
I’ve been working on a novel based on “My Ocean Life” experiences. It should be completed in 2013 and I hope for it to be a hit. I’ve also partnered with a major production company in LA and I’d love for one of the shows we’re working on to air and take the kite lifestyle to cable TV.
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