An interview with Liquid Force International Team’s James Boulding. Recommendations of the UK’s best places, how to get started and a bit about his Kitesurfing adventure so far.
|Honours:||2nd British Championships 09, Liquid Force European Team 2009, Moved to Liquid Force International Team 2010|
Hi James, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. So what exactly is Freestyle Kitesurfing?
Hi there, no problem! Well, Kitesurfing is an awesome sport that uses a big kite to harness the power of the wind and a board to resist this power, providing a pull that drags you across the water. The sport is now branching out in many directions, including wave riding, powered Wakeboard style (on ramps & sliders) and Freestyle, which is as it states; free to do tricks and ride in any style, on flat water.
What made you start and how old were you?
I got into the sport when I was 18 years old, during my last year at school. I pursued it as a hobby throughout my time at Newcastle University, and I’d say it became an addiction after graduating when I alternated between the winter and summer seasons. Growing up inland meant I rarely visited the beach, and my roots were initially in climbing and mountaineering. As this started to get a little crazier, my parents got increasingly worried and bought me a little power kite for my birthday to try and tempt me away from climbing. I must say it worked very well, although I don’t think they realised at the time what it would lead to!
What will 2010 hold for you having just moved onto the Liquid Force International Team?
I should get more chance to travel and the opportunity to shoot (videos) in some pretty exotic locations. Until now I’ve had to put all of my own resources into being able to kite as much as possible, so now that I have a great backing it enables me to spend more time kiting and less time worrying about money!
That sounds like fun! Do you kite much in the UK? Where are the best spots?
Yes definitely, the UK has some great areas for Kitesurfing.
Tiree is a little island off the coast of Scotland in the Hebrides and is probably my favourite place of all. From waves to flat water; it has some of the best Kitesurfing in the world. The island is also small enough to drive around until you find the perfect spot for the wind, and is also handily positioned in the Gulf Stream – so it’s not as cold as you might think!
Rhosneigr, Gwynedd is also really good. Based in Anglesea, Wales – ‘Rhossy’ provides some epic waves and backdrop to match.
Norfolk is a great kiting location, and in particular Brancaster. The beach consists of miles upon miles of clean golden sand and there is never an issue finding space on the water!
I guess you’ve been on many Kitesurfing trips, where were the best places to make a weekend out of?
One of the best things about Kitesurfing is how versatile you can be with it. There are some amazing destinations worldwide but if you’re looking for weekend breaks – the UK has some great locations to offer.
Cornwall is definitely one of the places to go if you’re into your wave riding; my favourite spot down there is Saunton Sands. This beach has some great riding set against stunning scenery and if the wind’s not pumping; you can just surf instead.
Camber Sands, East Sussex is a great place to kite if you’re travelling from London, and is probably one of the more popular weekend haunts for the city slicker. Just around the corner from Camber is another beach called Greatstone, so as long as there is some wind; you’re covered in most directions.
Poole Harbour, Dorset is another popular destination and is commutable from London in around 2 hours. The harbour provides a perfect flat water location and plenty of space. There are also numerous kite schools based there that offer a safe introduction to the sport.
What has been your best memory in Kitesurfing?
Placing 2nd this year on the British Championships was the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice. The level of riding in the UK is so high now, with a fair few riding on the world tour – so I was stoked to finish up 2nd.
What is your best / favourite trick?
I like to do tricks that feel good and ones I believe look stylish, even if they sometimes don’t always score high in competition.
The sport’s going through some big changes at the moment with judging criteria constantly changing. Some people view big multiple handle-pass tricks with the kite high, to give height and distance – to be harder and more appealing, whereas I’m more in favour of keeping the kite lower and opting for technical tricks with grabs – which can be a lot harder but have a smoother flow to them. There are just so many variables in the sport leading to so many different styles.
What equipment do you recommend using at first? How much do you think it realistically costs?
There are lots of different kites on the market now so it’s important to choose the right one for you. If you’re just learning I’d recommend getting a bow or SLE kite. These kites give you more control and are a lot more forgiving – which can make a huge difference to your learning experience. ‘C’ kites tend to be more performance based and give a more responsive feel but have less wind range, so you tend to need more kites of different sizes to be covered in different wind speeds. You can certainly save some money buying kit at the end of the year when shops get rid of stock.
You can pick up the whole lot for around a grand or so.
What tips would you advise for people looking to get started?
Go and get lessons, you’ll save yourself a lot of time messing around and they will give you a safe introduction to the sport.
And what would you advise for learning and improving freestyle techniques?
Go out and watch the top guys, the sport has a very friendly clientele so don’t hesitate in getting information from the rippers on the beach. Fat Sands also have loads of great DVDs aimed at beginner, intermediate and pro levels that give easy to understand tuition for learning tricks and techniques so I’d recommend them. The internet is also a great place to find inspiration and get new ideas & styles as there’s so much online media these days.
Check James’s Website to find out more and for other great photos & videos!