We recently caught up with Michelle Smith, one of the top 10 finalists in the 2011 “Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer” competition to find out what she’s been up to lately and how the competition has impacted her kitesurfing career. Michelle placed 4th overall in the 2011 MIGK and has since received a lot of media coverage and exposure, and has landed some great sponsorship deals.
Where is your local riding spot?
My local spot is kitebeach in Blouberg, Cape Town
Where are your favorite places to ride other than your local spot?
My absolute favourite spot of all time is Cannon Rocks, Eastern Cape, South Africa. This is actually my old local spot before I moved to Cape Town and it is Paradise!!! I will also be going to Zanzibar soon for the first time, so I think this may turn into my new fave spot…
What do you do for work?
I own a Pilates studio in Sea Point, Cape Town called “Core Condition Pilates”.
What gear do you use?
Ozone C4 kites (mostly my 5m) and a Dean Geraghty strapless directional board, mystic wetsuit and harness and always a smile on my face. Sometimes I will also do freestyle on my Airtool twintip. But strapless is my passion!
How has the MIGK impacted your life?
MIGK impacted my life in such a great way. It gave me incredible confidence in my ability – before MIGK I never really felt that I featured internationally, and MIGK gave me my first opportunity to do so. The competition also inspired me to continue doing good for my community. So much has happened since MIGK and I feel like the comp has always been there in the background to inspire me to keep chasing my dreams.
Who were you sponsored by before the comp and who are you sponsored by now?
Before the comp I was sponsored by Ozone kites and Island Tribe sun protection, now I am also sponsored by Mystic and Island Tribe offered me a better sponsorship.
Do you compete? If so what competitions have you participated in and what have your results been since the MIGK competition.
Since the MIGK comp I have competed in the Cannon Rocks kiteboarding competition and I came 2nd against Jalou Langeree in the freestyle and wave. I also took part in the Langebaan Downwind dash this year and thankfully raced back to shore shortly after the start, knowing the wind was too light. It was a good thing that I did this because most of the competitors had to be rescued far out at sea due to no wind!
Has the MIGK competition helped you gain any additional exposure or publicity in the kiteboarding world?
Yes, the comp helped me to gain new sponsors, new fans and even helped me gain exposure in the non-kiteboarding media. For example, I was featured on the South African TV show, Top Billing.
Video: Jeannie D goes kiteboarding with Michelle Sky Smith
The Little Green Book
I was also chosen as one of South Africa’s top 100 most influential sports’ personalities, alongside some of South Africa’s best Olympic athletes. This was a great opportunity for me to make kitesurfing more popular to the general public.
How have you used your new sponsors / media connections to influence others who want to get involved in kitesurfing?
In my everyday life I get the opportunity to use my sponsors and connections to influence other aspiring kiters. For example, all my Pilates clients see the sponsors I have and my media coverage and realise that if I, a petite young girl can do kitesurfing, then so can they! The same goes for my friends and the public who see me on TV or on the internet. All of this has even inspired my little 8 year old sister to start kitesurfing!
What advice do you have for the up and coming MIGK nominations?
Find out what you truly love and do it. People, including competition voters and judges will recognize and love your sincerity. Also, the competition is not for the girl with the best kiting abilities. Rather, it is for the girl with the greater good on her mind, the greater love, passion and commitment to her sport and community. It is for the girl who loves her ocean so much, she can’t help but share it with others.
iMK: Thank you for taking the time to update us on your amazing achievements Michelle, and for your thoughtful insights and advice to this year’s nominees. Congratulations on being chosen as one of South Africa’s Top 100 Most Influential Personalities in Sport, and for your appearance on Top Billing! This is an incredible accomplishment that we are all very proud of.