Hannah Whiteley: MIGK 2012 Winner

Hannah Whiteley Kitesurfing

Hannah Whiteley is one of the top 10 Finalists in the “Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer 2012” competition!

Do you think Hannah should be crowned the most influential or most inspirational girl in kitesurfing this year? Read all about her in the interview below.

Interview with Hannah Whiteley

Hannah, tell us a little bit about yourself or your story.

At 15 years old I discovered my passion for kitesurfing. As soon as I learnt to stay upwind, a local kite shop saw potential in me and sponsored me to do some of the British freestyle competitions. I was very surprised at this and felt nowhere near good enough to be sponsored or to enter competitions. I didn’t have anything to lose though, so I gave the competitions a go. I came last at my first event. I felt extremely embarrassed that I had entered the competition, the only trick I could do was a little pop jump and I could not even land them consistently yet! However this competition motivated me so much!! I was determined to learn some tricks and not to come last at the next competition.

Hannah Whiteley Kitesurfing Andre Magarao

Hannah Whiteley | Photo by Andre Magarao

I trained as much as possible before the next competition. In one session I learnt 7 new tricks, but destroyed nearly as many kites… 5 kites in one week! 1 brand new kite, I pounded straight into the only pole in the entire sea!! I destroyed another kite my Dad had just sold! One was a demo kite, it was my first time using a 5th lined kite and I managed to cut it straight in half! And there was an old one my Dad had never managed to do any damage to in gale force winds, but in my hands it only lasted 30 mins! I was totally crazy at learning new tricks. I quickly gained the nickname “Hannah the kite slayer” at my local beach. As you can imagine my Dad was quite relieved when I got a kite sponsor! I guess it was just about worth it though as I then went on to winning every remaining British competition and won the overall title of British Amateur Lady Champion in 2007. I then moved up to competing in the Pro division and won the Pro ladies Title for 3 consecutive years 2009, 2010 and 2011 setting a new female record. I also entered some international competitions as well and won the Big Air/ board off comp at the PRKA World Tour in Germany in 2009.

Hannah Whiteley Kitesurfing

Hannah Whiteley | Photo by Andre Magarao

This year I decided not focus so much on the competitions and do more video orientated trips. I have really enjoyed making my videos with Andre Magarao in Brazil and Venezuela.

Video: Hannah Whiteley Lost on an Island

I have also enjoyed doing my own kitesurfing lessons at my local beach.

Where are you from?

I am from the North West of England not too far from Manchester.

Where do you live and kitesurf now and what brought you there?

I still live in Manchester mostly, but it takes me over an hour to get to my local beach. My parents have just gotten a place at my local kite spot now. So when it’s windy I spend most of my time there and get a lot more kite sessions in. :)

Favourite kitesurfing spots?

Brazil, Venezuela, Australia, Lytham (My local beach UK) Rhosneigr (UK)

Video: Hannah Whiteley Brazilian Nut Case

Do you have any sponsors? Who are they?

Yes I have some great support from Wainman Hawaii, Chiemsee, Prolimit and Expix.

Apart from kiting, what are your other Interests?

I love aggressive inline skating, wakeboarding, trampolining, snowboarding, climbing and running. I love having fun with my friends and family. Trying crazy new things.

Hannah Whiteley Skating

How did you learn to kitesurf, who taught you and when did you start?

My Dad (Peter Whiteley, 5X British Senior Freestyle Champion) taught me to kitesurf. He started teaching me when I was 10 years old, my Dad was a bit crazy though and I ended up having three near death experiences! I decided I did not want to lean to Kitesurf anymore. 5 years later I chose to try kitesurfing again. This time it went a lot better!.. There were no hair-raising experiences, I was up and going along straight away. It didn’t take long before I was fully hooked on kitesurfing and entered my 1st competition.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your kite career and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was learning my first handle pass. I tried and tried to do the blind judge but I just couldn’t do it. I was so frustrated; I could land everything to blind regular and switch. I could land rapped regular and switch no problem. But getting the bar in the air… big problem! I was out kiting at my local beach in England last summer and my friend Will Makinson gave me one tip on doing the blind judge, and that was it!… I could then land the blind judge every time. This was my favorite all time session. Learning the next handle passes then came easily.

What is your proudest achievement?

Being crowned 3X British Freestyle Champion and also setting a new female record. Winning the Big Air/board off competition at the PRKA World Tour in Germany in 2009.

Hannah Whiteley Kitesurfing Magazine Covers

What is your preferred riding style?

Wake style

What would you like to learn?

I am always trying to make every trick I do look as stylish, tweaked and powered as possible. I don’t want to just learn a trick I want to try and master it.

Who influenced you to start kitesurfing? Is there anyone you really look up to?

My Dad, Pete influenced me to start kitesurfing. There are a lot of people that I look up to in kitesurfing. Steph Bridge, Aaron Hadlow, Ruben Lenton and so many more! There are a lot of great talented people in our sport who are always pushing it to the next level.

Hannah Whiteley Kiteboarding Bindings

Describe a time you inspired someone to start kitesurfing?

There was a girl at my local kite beach who always really looked up to me. She told me she wanted to be just like me. She is such a lovely girl. I gave her one of my old kite boards to learn to kite on.

How has kitesurfing changed your life?

Without kitesurfing I would not have travelled all over the world, and come across the most beautiful places. I’m so grateful I’ve had the opportunity to do this and feel honored to meet so many kind and thoughtful people along the way.

Video: Hannah Whiteley’s Sweet Escape

Besides kitesurfing, what are you most passionate about?

I love aggressive inline skating, wakeboarding, trampolining, snowboarding, climbing and running. I love having fun with my friends and family. Trying crazy new things.

What are you doing for Kitesurfing in your community or globally?

I have just started teaching my own kitesurfing lessons at my local beach this last summer. I’m really enjoying bringing new people into our sport.

How do you think winning the 2012 Most Influential Girl Kitesurfer will shape your life and the positive work you are doing now?

I would certainly feel very honored if I was to win. I do feel ever so grateful just to be a finalist. So thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for me. It means a lot :) xx

Hannah Whiteley Kitesurfing

Hannah Whiteley | Photo by Helmut Berta & Giacomo Visconti

What do you think the future holds for kiteboarding / Kitesurfing and what can we do to improve our sport?

I think there will be a lot more people focusing on course racing, aiming to get on the Olympic squad.

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 now that kitesurfing has become an Olympic sport, it will positively increase a lot of people’s awareness of the sport and encourage more people to learn to Kitesurf. Personally my passion in kitesurfing is with the freestyle, not course racing. So I don’t think the Olympics with affect me much but of course I will still be following the Olympics. I think it is a fantastic thing.

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?

I would like to continue making high quality videos. Continue competing. Run freestyle clinics around the world and set up my own kite school. :)

For more about Hannah, visit her website at: www.hannahwhiteley.com or follow her on Facebook.

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