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Close Up: Karolina Winkowska

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Age: 20
Height: 5’6”
Weight: 123 lbs.
Years kiting: 6
Favorite Spot: Muizenberg in Cape Town
Favorite Conditions: Flat water and wind for my 7m kite
Favorite Moves: Low Front Mobe and Low Back Mobe
Sponsors: Slingshot, Ford, and Roxy

Gear Setup

Board: Balance Boards 131 Team
Kites: Slingshot Fuel and RPM
Harness: Slingshot

TIPS

  • Once you’re in the air, don’t panic.
  • Go full power!
  • Choose good equipment and then tricks are easy to do!

Karolina grew up in Poland far from the beach, but thanks to windsurfing parents she learned to windsurf at a young age and took many trips to the ocean. When she was just 13 she tried kiteboarding for the first time with her dad, who attached her to a rope so she wouldn’t fly away. Now Karolina is 20 and travels the globe on the PKRA circuit, finishing the 2010 season in second place in freestyle.

When, where, and why did you start kiteboarding?

I started in 2004 in Poland because kitesurfing is an awesome sport. At the time it was also new in Poland, which made it even more exciting. At the beginning I didn’t enjoy it so much because there were not many kitesurfers in the water and all my friends were windsurfers. Even so, very quickly I became a kite addict.

What riders inspire you?

Good riders inspire me. There are so many of them: Youri, Andy, Ruben, Aaron, Alex, Victor, plus I love to watch everybody who is ripping on the water, so my list never ends.

What features do you most appreciate about your current gear?

I love my gear right now. There is nothing that I would change with it. My board is made for me so it’s perfect. My kites have everything that I wish to have in a kite. They have a C-kite shape and when I’m trying to pass the bar behind my back it’s just super easy as there is very little pressure on the bar.

What do you think about the current state of competitions? What do you think about the racing element becoming a larger part of PKRA events?

I’m happy with my season so far as I’ve had loads of good heats this year. I’m very happy with the PKRA tour as a lot of things changed since last year when we joined the IKA organization. Because the PKRA is for the riders and by the riders we really can speak up and change rules and things we don’t agree with like the judging criteria, point system, and much more. Racing is just another discipline for me and is entertainment for spectators when the wind is light. I don’t know if racing is popular as the equipment is expensive and traveling with it is even worse. To be honest I don’t know any person who owns equipment for racing who is not a sponsored competitor.

What do you do off the water to help you on the water?

I love to surf so I travel to the places where I can surf and kite in the same day. Cape Town and Tarifa are perfect for this. When I’m at home in Poland and there are no waves or wind, then I do other stuff like cross-country skiing in winter or bicycling in summer. I also go wakeboarding, but not too often.

Photo Kuba Winkowska

What are you currently working on out on the water?

Switch tricks, which are a real nightmare for me. I learn how to do tricks on my regular side and once I try them switch it usually doesn’t work out very well. Right now I feel like I did a few years ago, trying moves, crashing, and cursing. But I’m not going to give up because I know it’ll come, even if I have to try a trick a million times.

What is your scariest kiteboarding experience?

Last year one of my lines snapped during 40 knots of onshore wind. I can say that I was SUPER lucky that day. Nothing serious happened to me because my kite tangled around a bush and stopped pulling me.

Where is your favorite place to kite and why?

Muizenberg, in Cape Town. There is wind everyday and only a few people on the water. Plus the water is super flat between the waves. I’ve been there every winter for the last four years and can’t wait to go there again this winter!

What is your most memorable kiteboarding experience?

It‘s hard to say because I kite every day and each day I have great experiences. Some are nice like kiting in New Caledonia where the water is transparent, there are no crowds, and I can kite in a bikini. But the most memorable days are always the bad ones. Seeing a shark, snapping a line, or the extreme cold in Argentina are all pretty memorable.

What are your must haves that you can’t live without?

The ocean, wind, and waves.

Any words of wisdom you want to share with our readers?

Have fun, enjoy, and read my blog: http://karolinawinkowska.wordpress.com

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