British newcomer Hannah Whiteley shows a promising start to the season. She ranked 2nd in big air for the second time in a row. To her surprise, the nice blond-haired kiteboarder also entered the freestyle main event this year and managed to reach the quaterfinals during the Virgin Kitesurf World Championships second stop in Venezuela. Apart from her competitive side, the 23 year-old rider delivers some personal aspects of her life, always with a great smile.
Name: Hannah Whiteley
Date of birth: 1/3/1992
Disciplines: freestyle, big air, wave
Location: Stockport (Manchester, UK)
Facebook page: Hannah Whiteley Official Page
Sponsors: Best, Volkswagen, Chiemsee, Prolimit
How long have you been on the Tour?
I’ve never done the full Tour before. I’ve only done a few events like Germany several years ago. I spent a couple of years off from the competition as I wanted to do some other things like video projects. But what really made me want to participate in the Virgin Kitesurf World Championships is the big air event which I really like and I want to mix it up with some freestyle. Big air is what makes kitesurfing stand out of the other watersports. In windsurfing for example, you can’t jump so high. I really enjoy freestyle but big air feels so fun when the wind is super strong and it’s too much for powered tricks.
Do you think you can win the big air competition one day?
I’d like to try my best, yeah. And also, I did not realize that in Morocco (during freestyle trials in Dakhla) I qualified myself doing the whole Tour (laugh). I was not expecting it. It was a nice surprise.
Are you under pressure before a contest?
Just before my heat I’m feeling really nervous but whenever it starts I’m pretty chilled and I do what I’ve got to do. I think everyone feels pretty stressed, it’s normal. To help my nerves and be more relaxed I try to prepare all my kites as soon as possible so I feel ready.
Do you have any rituals before the green flag goes up?
I don’t know… I think that among every girls on the Tour I’m the one who eats the most chocolate. That’s my secret! I’m just having little chocolate stashes everywhere! I love it. I can’t remember a day I did not eat chocolate.
„I don’t really know where I got my shape from because normally sporty people have less curves.“
Do you train besides kiteboarding?
I do a lot of rock climbing and skating. I never really go to the gym, I always do different sports. If I want to work out, I go where I can pull up bars and do things like muscle ups, spinning on the bar and more calisthenics tricks. It’s pretty complete. Crossfit is more about weights while in calisthenics you don’t use any weights but your own body. I can’t do too many muscle ups now but one day hopefully!
How often do you train?
Several times a week but it is not constant. If it’s windy I go kiting as much as possible but sometimes in UK I cannot kite for like two weeks and the following one I do it every single day. It’s always different. But it’s nice if you have other sports outside of kitesurfing because whenever you ride you appreciate it more. It keeps you motivated because you can’t do it all the time.
Apart from your kitesurfing skills, you’re also renowned for your great shape. Do you take care of it?
I don’t really know where I got my shape from because normally sporty people have less curves. It’s a bit strange. Maybe I’ve got the chocolate pity! I eat so much of it that it goes to my ass (laugh). That’s the whole story with chocolate.
You take advantage of your girly image. Do you like it?
I’m doing all that boys’ sports and I’m quite the only girl, like at the skate park for example. At my home spot, I’m the only girl kiting too. I think I can be a real boy but it’s also nice to be really girly and sometimes wearing small bikinis. At the end of the day, whatever I wear, I’m a girl…
„If I have a good heat I’m going to try harder tricks until the end.“
How are your relationships with the other female riders?
Everyone is pretty cool and friendly, but it can be difficult to have friendships with people from other nations because of the different cultures and humor. Sometimes you make a joke and it’s not funny at all for some of them (smile). It could be hard because you are good friends but you’re also competitors. I think when you’re in a heat it’s competition, and after that you just have to put it aside, be friendly and enjoy.
What is your strategy once on the water?
If I have a good heat I’m going to try harder tricks until the end. I have five tricks that hopefully I’m going to do in every heat and then, some extra tricks. I can’t tell which, it’s a secret!
Which rider would you like to beat the most?
Probably Karolina (Winkowska) because she’s the current world champion so that would be a pretty good one (laugh)! But obviously that is very very difficult. I would just be happy to win the heat I’m in.
What do you do besides kiteboarding?
I do some modeling and sometimes I teach kitesurfing. I also did an apprenticeship in painting and decorating. My dad is a builder and I was laboring for him. I spent four days working and one day at college. We worked on house extensions, big projects. That actually got me super strong for kitesurfing! Sometimes I was like carrying bigs buckets of cement up the ladders. It was pretty good working for him because I learned the practical skills I’m going to need for the rest of my life. I mean, I’m not able to build my own house but I have an idea of things (laugh).
After your rider career, what would you like to do?
I would like to go into properties and do properties up on my own. We’ll see. Have you met somebody kiting who wants to do this (laugh)?
Pictures credit: Juan Santiago Monteverde & Broosk Saib
Video credit: Andi Jansen