Sukie Robertson has been involved with the kite surfing industry for 15 years now — as a surfer, as a coach, as a commentator on international tour, as the owner of a kiteboard centre, as a director of kids camps, as a writer. It’s been quite a ride, but for those dreaming about becoming a pro surfer or pro anything, Robertson shows that there are many more ways to be a mover and shaker in an industry.
1. What exactly is kitesurfing, and how did you get started?
Kitesurfing is using a kite to propel your self across water. From here you can go into so many different aspects, such as wave riding, freestyle, big air, speed, long distance. Literally anything you want! I was a mad keen surf grom from a young age then once I saw kiting I was instantly hooked!
To learn to kitesurf was expensive, and being so young I had to find a way to make money. So I picked up horse poo for two years to buy my first kite, which I flew in muddy fields at every opportunity until I slowly added more gear. I actually started off with the Landboarding side of things first as it was more accessible for younger people. I entered a couple of competitions and ended up being British Champion in that, twice!
Then from there I carried on with the odd jobs until age 18 I moved down to the UK surf mecca of Newquay to be close to the ocean and be able to kite everyday — everyones’ dream!
2. What do you love about the sport? What’s most challenging? What’s most rewarding?
I love just being in the water mainly. And I spend ALOT of time in the water when I’m kiting! The friends I have made all over the world from kiting are some of my most special, and the incredible, varied and often bonkers things which have occurred have always been because of kitesurfing.
The challenging side generally just comes from the wind! Or the lack of constant winds we sometimes have in the UK. When you are in the middle of some really good progression then the wind disappears for a month and you are back to square one! But in turn that just makes every session so much more special and rewarding.
Above all, kiting is just insanely fun. No matter the conditions there is always something in the sport to do.
3. Can you tell me a bit about your kitesurfing journey? How have you become so involved, and what have been your favorite aspects of your kitesurfing career (so far)?
Becoming so involved has actually been a necessity in order for me to continue! Kitesurfing is still a bit of a rich kid’s sport, but there are ways in which you can make it doable if you really want it.
Once old enough I wanted to teach as thats the best way to travel, so I did that. Then I wanted to compete. But on an instructor’s wage in the UK, that wasn’t completely possible, so I contacted the BKSA who let me host a BBQ at each event which paid the money back I spent on entry fees and travel.
Then, whilst I was living in Australia I fell into working at a kite repair centre which worked really well with coaching, but not so much riding for myself! It took up all my time!
Following from the there I decided to try my hand at competing internationally. It was going really well and I was lying in 5th place in my first competition when I had a really bad crash and tore a knee ligament. I ended up drowning my sorrows (in true British style!) at the bar on site for the rest of the competition. However, half way through the event someone had left a microphone much too close to me and I proceeded to pick it up and start chatting away. There started an awesome 2 year stint working as MC for the Kite tour Asia!
I also commentated at the World Championships in China which was pretty surreal!
Now, I am running my own centre in the South West of England where I get to do exciting projects such as kids clubs and womens coaching sessions. Plus, being the boss means I can still take time off to go to competitions! Last year I finished 2nd in Pro womens freestyle, and am British Champion for wave riding. I also took along a couple of the kids I had been coaching who did really well and was so great to see. We also close up for winter and go on some awesome trips. Last year to New Zealand for 3 months, and this year the Dominican Republic.
We also get to do fun things like kitesurf across the Baltic Sea (and back!), do downwinders for charity (which almost ended in disaster but we won’t go into that!), and I am a member of our local Coastguard so am on call 24/7 should any emergency occur in our patch.
Oh, and have been testing gear for the last couple of years for IKSURF magazine, this job is one of my favourites… I get to try all the new kitesurfing gear, and get paid for it!! Perfect!
4. What would you recommend to individuals interested in kitesurfing for the first time?
Just do it! If someone told me that about say, climbing, I would be apprehensive, but having worked as a coach for so long, the majority of students actually come on their own. You also do not need to be a super fit health queen to get going. It is truly the only sport I have found where you go completely at your own pace, and each stage is as awesome as the next.
Hunt around for gear, don’t buy what the first person tells you to. And try on every harness you can to make sure you get the best one for you.
Also, just be open to all the opportunities which come you way, kitesurfing is so young that there are so many exciting things happening all the time which we get to be part of.
Above all, I still have not found anything I love quite as much as kitesurfing. It combines all the great elements of other sports into to one package which will have you pushing your own limits and laughing your head off at the same time.