Susi Mai is one of the top 10 Finalists in the “Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer 2012” competition!
Do you think Susi should be crowned the most influential or most inspirational girl in kitesurfing this year? Read all about her in the interview below.
Interview with Susi Mai
Susi, tell us a little bit about yourself or your story.
Where are you from?
I was born in Munich, Germany, and at that time my parents were running a windsurfing school in Southern Italy for the summers.
Then, when I was 6 they moved to the Dominican Republic.
Where do you live and kitesurf now and what brought you there?
I live in the famous little kite town Cabarete. The reason my parents moved here is because a friend came on vacation and said it was the coolest place he had ever seen in his life and that he was going to move there. So my dad said he wanted to go check it out. So we took a family vacation there and I guess they loved it so much they decided to stay.
Favourite kitesurfing spots?
Cabarete is one of my favorite places, not only because I grew up there but because it never gets boring and it’s always good for one sport or another. Usually the mornings are windless so it’s good for surfing, and even in the summers the waves are big enough to longboard or to go Standup paddling. Almost every single afternoon at 1 pm the trade winds kick in and there are 3 really fun spots to kite at, all within 10 minutes of each other. Most of the time I kite at kitebeach, but I have to admit it’s more because of laziness than anything else. I have all my gear stored there and the compressor really makes it almost impossible to think about going somewhere else and having to use a pump. Kitebeach is mostly chop but there is a reef outside with flat spots in between the waves where freestyle can be super fun, especially if the waves are small enough to use them as kickers.
My second favorite spot is La Boca, which is a big river mouth with butter flat water. It’s a bit further to get to, you actually have to drive there and either get a moto taxi guy to wait for you, or you can go downwind back to kitebeach, but either way it’s a bit of a mission. I usually ride there at least once or twice a week.
My third favorite spot is Encuentro, which is 10 minutes downwind from kitebeach. It’s the surf beach and similar to the outside kitebeach reef minus the people. I’ve never been to Encuentro and felt like it was crowded, even when there are hundreds of kites at kitebeach. People just don’t seem to go there that much.
Do you have any sponsors? Who are they?
YES I do, Red Bull, Cabrinha, NP, Kaenon, Swox
Apart from kiting, what are your other Interests?
I love Surfing, SUP, skydiving and have been trying to get into rockclimbing lately. I also enjoy arts and music festivals every now and then.
How did you learn to kitesurf, who taught you and when did you start?
I first started to kite when a friend of mine, Gael, opened a school on Kitebeach and gave my best friend and me some lessons. My first kite-lesson was a complete nightmare and after I was done with it I didn’t come back to Kitebeach for a whole year! I remember how everything was bothering me: Pumping up all the small struts with the bad vents which were very difficult to close, rolling out the lines which I thought were way too long and difficult to understand, and most of all, trying to keep the old two liner kite up in the air when it always kept flying backwards and falling into the water. We got to body-dragging and even though I liked the beach and spent much time there as a kid, I didn’t like kiteboarding at all and neither did my friend. We decided that this wasn’t our sport so we never went back there to continue our course…
One year later I got motivated again and decided I should give it another try. That was in spring 2002, but since I was still in high school I didn’t get to go more than once or twice a week. I wasn’t really into it back then, but when the PKRA event came to town in June I saw what it was really all about. It was also the first time I had seen girls riding and competing, and that was when I decided I really wanted to learn to kite. Of course back then I didn’t think about competition or anything like that, I just wanted to be able to fly through the air and have fun.
What is your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement to this day is the fact that together with Cabrinha, I have finally been able to develop a full line of girls specific equipment for the 2013 season! Yes – not just a board, but a kite and a bar as well, and it’s the first time in the history of the sport that there’s something out there specifically for the girls.
I would have to say though that I have special and memorable moments that make me proud all the time. Two days ago for example, someone came up to me and told me that they had watched one of my videos about the Philippines and even though he had only had 2 kiting lessons, he and his parner booked flights to Boracay and went out there to kite for two weeks. And they loved it!
For me that’s very special because it keeps me motivated and helps me see that my work is actually inspiring people to get out there and kite. I don’t think one could ask for much more than that!
What is your preferred riding style?
I’m usually freeriding, recently got back into my wake boots (was out for a year after a knee injury) and have been getting back on the slider project.
What would you like to learn?
I’m still looking forward to learning to waveride, it’s something I’ve been saving up for later
Who influenced you to start kitesurfing? Is there anyone you really look up to?
I guess when I started there wasn’t really an industry and I didn’t have kite mags or youtube videos to look at and get inspired. The one person I really have always looked up to is Dre, he’s been my guiding light throughout my career and has always given me good advice on what to do next.
How has kitesurfing changed your life?
It has changed almost every aspect of it! I now travel the world, going to beautiful new places, meeting amazing people, and even though I don’t think my life would have been boring if I hadn’t become a pro kiter, I definitely can’t see myself doing anything else!
Besides kitesurfing, what are you most passionate about?
A few things I guess.
At the moment I’m focusing a lot of my energy on MaiTai, which is a brand I’m building together with my partner Bill Tai. We started it about 6 years ago and it has grown a lot over the years, much to everyone’s surprise. It’s a very long story but I’m hoping to one day be able to run camps in cool locations all over the world.
What are you doing for Kitesurfing in your community or globally?
I try to get involved with the local Dominican events and help the kids here live up to their potential. I recently hosted a Big Air competition for the locals and it went really really well
I am also a patron on kiteright.org which is an organization helping people with disabilities through kiting, and even though I didn’t know much about it before I met the founder, I am now a firm believer in how much good the organization can do!
Globally I guess I try to get involved with local events all over the place, hosting girls camps, joining Tatiana Howard on the Butterlfy Effect events, and just generally trying to get out there and inspire people.
What do you think the future holds for kiteboarding / Kitesurfing and what can we do to improve our sport?
I believe kiting will continue to grow and gain popularity all across the world. The best thing about it is that it’s a very green sport, you don’t need to burn fuel to do it, it works just with mother nature and I believe that will play a huge part in the sport’s success in the future.
I think at this point, the main thing kiters all around the globe can do to help, is to be safe on the water. It’s very hard to get people excited about a sport that they’re afraid of, and if we all work together to avoid accidents we can make the general image of the sport a fun, carefree and joyful one.
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?
I think we’re already seeing the effects it has on the sport and the olympics are still 4 years away! There has been a lot more attention around kiting globally since the announcement, and even internally in the industry, companies are rallying to get their olympic programs in place and start developing gear/athletes.
For me personally it’s awesome because I plan to definitely be a part of it one way or another. 4 years is a long time, but I’m defintely going to be there, either competing or coaching a competitor, and I’m super excited!
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?
Wouldn’t be exciting if I just gave it all away, would it
All I can say is that I’m firmly set in the way of continuing to develop the girls equipment and that one day I hope that with my efforts, girls will outnumber the boys on the water!
For more about Susi, visit her website at: SusiMai.com
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