Sophie Chevalier is one of the top 10 Finalists in the “Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer 2012” competition!
Do you think Sophie (a.k.a Sofi) should be crowned the most influential or most inspirational girl in kitesurfing this year? Read all about her in the interview below.
Congratulations to Sophie Chevalier!
Interview with Sophie Chevalier
Sophie, tell us a little bit about yourself or your story.
Hi, my name is Sophie Chevalier and I’m 28 years old (well I will be by the time you read this, although I’m still hanging onto 27 for now). I’m a kitesurf instructor and I work principally in Zanzibar for Paje by Kite… I’m also the Editor of KiteSista Magazine which I’ve been running now since May 2012. Before this I was a sports teacher in the French education system and I was also a fitness instructor for a couple of years… but this all changed when I decided to devote my life to kitesurfing, which is why I’m here right now speaking with you
Where are you from?
I was born in Belfort, a town in France next to the border of Switzerland… which explains why I love chocolate so much
Where do you live and kitesurf now and what brought you there?
I split my time between Zanzibar where I’ve been living and working for the last couple of years, London where my boyfriend is from and the north of France where I get to ride for myself, spend quality time with my family and friends and of course continue to work for KiteSista.
Favourite kitesurfing spots?
I love my local spot Trestel in Brittany, 5 minutes from my house and never more than two or three people riding there, so really my own private spot I also really loved Cabarete in the Dominican Republic, but Paje in Zanzibar definitely has to be my favourite spot. It has everything, lagoons, waves and best of all, warm water.
Do you have any sponsors? Who are they?
I’m riding at the moment for Goldenboard which is french brand who make a fantastic freestyle board, and also for Lastage, an ecological clothing brand from Biarritz.
Apart from kiting, what are your other Interests?
Definitely Snowboarding… but I love music, I play and I sing… not only under my shower I also love to just spend some time with my friends, dancing, shopping, all the things a girl likes to do! …and then not forgetting playing backgammon with Marcus, my lovely English guy.
How did you learn to kitesurf, who taught you and when did you start?
I learnt to kitesurf with my ex-boyfriend. It was in Brittany at Plestin Les Grèves… and it was really cold! It was about 6 years ago now… We travelled together quite a lot which definitely planted the seed and gave me the drive to continue.
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 has to have been starting to teach in English… just over a year ago I didn’t know anything in this language! But when you don’t have a choice, no alternative, you want to, and you have to do something, you just do it.
What is your proudest achievement?
One will have to be the teaching in English as I just mentioned …but the other one that motivates me and continues to make me proud has to be KiteSista. It is like my baby, my business, my dedication to the kitesurfing world.
What is your preferred riding style?
Wake / Freestyle… nothing else. This is what makes me the happiest and challenges me, even if it sometimes also gives me a bit of pain!
What would you like to learn?
In kitesurfing, Blind judge 3’s … and out of kitesurfing ….maybe to concentrate a little better at times
Who influenced you to start kitesurfing? Is there anyone you really look up to?
My friends mainly, because we were all learning together doing something new… and for me it is just because of them that I found the inspiration and motivation to do this, …because sometimes when it’s cold it can be difficult to find the will to go in the water when the conditions are hard and the water is not a friendly blue, ..in fact not blue at all. Sure I was dreaming about the girls who were riding in paradise locations in their bikinis… but for me it was not the reality, not my reality… so yes, definitely my friends who were there for me when it mattered.
Describe a time you inspired someone to start kitesurfing?
As an instructor I hope I am always inspiring my students, but specifically I remember a great experience with the KiteChix in Zanzibar this summer… I did a small freestyle clinic with a couple of girls, and I just got to spend some time with them on the lagoon breaking the boundaries to start doing tricks unhooked. But also I remember two little boys from Luxembourg, two brothers… I taught them and they both took so much pleasure from learning and eventually riding that it felt amazing. …there is something special I think about teaching younger or older people, it has an extra sense of satisfaction attached.
How has kitesurfing changed your life?
Interesting question… where to start? I changed everything in my life for kitesurfing… I was a sports teacher in a college in Normandy, in France… I was really happy working with my classes and my students, but I was missing something… I had a desire to discover the world, to meet different people, to improve my kiting more than my time was allowing me to… I wanted something else. So I decided to leave my job and to say goodbye to my students and my colleagues, and it was one of the most difficult things I have had to do in my life, but I will also always hold so many beautiful memories.
I then passed my IKO Course and became an instructor… but I wanted more, I wanted to have a real role in the industry… so I created KiteSista, to share my passion with the other girls who, like me, were spending most of their time thinking and dreaming about kitesurfing and being on the beach. I just want to enjoy every second of my life and continue to think that nothing is impossible… with the will, the motivation and a big smile, it’s amazing what you can achieve. I felt like I was just a spectator of my life and now I have a starring role.
Besides kitesurfing, what are you most passionate about?
Honestly, I think I will have to answer this with family. Both the family I have and the family I want to make. You can never underestimate the importance of family and the unconditional love they have for you, and I can’t wait to be able to do the same for my children, …along with annoying and embarrassing them like all parents do of course.
What are you doing for Kitesurfing in your community or globally?
I run KiteSista… I am always looking for new trends, new brands, and new cool things which could be of interest to girls… I try to gather new contacts in the industries surrounding kitesurfing and then present new ideas to my audience like Lastage and their eco friendly concept, with focus on those who are trying to do something new, interesting and inspiring.
I also recently started a new focus with holidays, camps and events, as I would like to help the female kiting community to meet each other and be aware of all of the opportunities to share the experiences on offer, and also create a point of connection to organise holidays together. I would like girls to use the holiday’s section of my site as an information platform and also a point of reference, whilst also helping all those who are working for camps, events or destinations for girls, so they have another way other than their sites to promote and push their projects.
In short, …I try to group us girls around our passion, kitesurfing.
How do you think winning the 2012 Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer will shape your life and the positive work you are doing now?
If I win this competition firstly it will be an honour and a huge compliment Secondly and seriously it will be the opportunity for me to increase my profile enabling me the best chance to develop my plans and at the same time letting more people know what is behind the sentiment of KiteSista.
It will also be an opportunity to extend my reach into the surrounding industries and for me to find the right partners, sponsors and collaborators to best support my continued self investment in girls in kitesurfing.
What do you think the future holds for kiteboarding / kitesurfing and what can we do to improve our sport?
I think that kitesurfing is going to be more popular and more accessible as we head into the future… and I would like to be involved in helping to get kitesurfing or at least an introduction to kiting, into schools, based on the concept that it is primarily an environmentally friendly sport. A small kite and the power of the wind is something that can be experienced and enjoyed by everyone including children, and as my inspirational friend Jen Ridley has recently shown us, also the disabled. They are now the first disabled, qualified power kite instructors in the world, and this opens up the accessibility of the sport even more, and sharing the joy we get from our kites.
What can ‘we’ do to improve the sport? Just try to be nice and set a good example when we are riding… take the time to help the beginners, we were all him/her once… and when you travel the world, try to help locals who may not have had the same chances as you to discover the sport.
How will the fact that kitesurfing is now an Olympic sport affect you personally, and what effect do you think this will have on the sport?
It is a really good thing… as I mentioned before, so much is about the exposure and accessibility of the sport… so international television coverage and awareness can only be a good thing. We cannot forget the wonder we experienced when seeing kitesurfing for the first time, regardless of tricks, just someone, attached to a kite, being pulled along by the wind.
Update: Sadly, the ISAF reversed its decision to include kiteboarding in the 2012 Rio Olympics on Saturday the 10th of November.
What do you hope to achieve in the next few years?
Blind Judge 3’s
No seriously, ..will you mark me down if I say that I haven’t got a 100% concrete idea yet? …for me this is a more interesting path to walk allowing me to stay open to every opportunity. However I do hope that KiteSista will become a connection point for girls who want to make contact with the other kitesurfing girls. For me this is in some ways more important and more of a challenge than just the magazine and image… and of course I hope that I can continue to improve my riding and travel the world with my love, and make a family
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