Riders Approach to the Pandemic | Day Four of the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Sylt 2021

Published 21st August 2021 by Andrea Susanne Opielka


We had a light breeze of around 12-13 kts which was enough wind for the organisers to run a wing and foil exhibition, and to showcase the latest toys.
The light winds also provided us with the opportunity to catch up with the riders and find out how they spent their time and kept fresh during the pandemic.


First on our list was the top dog and champion of the competition here in Sylt, James Carew (AUS). James managed to escape his home country and go chasing waves and wind around South America and Europe.

‘At the beginning of the pandemic, I decided not to stay in Australia because the rules were so strict and it would have been nearly impossible for me to travel out of Australia to train somewhere else. Instead, I decided to travel to the south of Brazil in search of some great swell so I would be able to focus on surfing for a change. After Brazil, I headed to Tarifa for a few months. In Tarifa, I was able to push my level in strapless freestyle as I was training with Airton who is one of the riders I truly admire. He was throwing down huge Boogie Loops and Board-Offs, really pushing the big air side of strapless freestyle. Seeing Airton doing all these crazy manoeuvres motivated me to try them too. By the end of Tarifa I felt pleased with my riding and I felt prepared to finally get back into competition.

Whilst I am very happy to take 1st place here in Sylt, winning is not everything for me. What I care about most when I compete is that I go out there and put on the best possible performance I am humanly capable of. Coming back off the water and knowing that I have done this is what matters to me most, regardless of whether I win or lose.’


The new queen of strapless freestyle Capucine Delannoy (FRA) has truly managed to set herself apart from the other girls here in Sylt. So, what’s her secret?

‘My brother Camille is my real inspiration and is the reason my level has improved so much. Training with him everyday is the main reason I have improved so quickly. I would often be watching him on the water landing triple front rolls whilst I was only landing one and I was thinking to myself  “I can’t be doing just one front roll when he is doing three”, so I decided to go for the double and I landed it.

My dad is also very supportive. He comes to every competition with us and he films us on the beach a lot so we can then go home and watch our tricks back. This can be extremely useful as it helps me to improve, by putting my kite a little higher or bending my knees more for example. Without this support from my father and my brother I really would not be at the level I am riding today.’

Capucine has been spending at least three hours on the water everyday, which is why her level in strapless freestyle has gone up exponentially. In Cape Verde last year Capucine placed 5th and now, in Sylt, she seems to be the strongest female rider we have on the GKA Kite-Surf Tour.


Reece Myerscough (CAN) is another impressive rider we have been keen to catch up with as he did exceedingly well in the competition here in Sylt, making it to the semi-finals. Reece spent his lockdown in the surf town of Tofino in Canada.

I liked the competition here in Sylt as these are the kind of conditions I am used to. The water is also warmer here than it is in Canada so you won’t hear me complaining about the cold! I was stoked on my performance at this competition, particularly because in the first round of my heat I broke my finger when the board smashed into it. Nevertheless, I carried on riding and still managed to make it to the final rounds.

Reece’s journey into kiteboarding was not the typical route. ‘My family owns Ocean Rodeo so I have been flying kites my whole life. I started competing when I was around 19 years old and honestly it has been such a crazy experience for me. It was a little intimidating when I first joined as I’ve only ever seen the top riders in videos but once you take that leap of faith and get into competition mode it’s worth it and all the riders are very welcoming.’


In contrast to other riders who have been jetting round the world the Swedish sensation, Catharina Edin (SWE), took another approach to the pandemic and decided this was the perfect opportunity to go back to her roots in Sweden and move to Holland for training.

‘After I came back from the Cape Verde competition last year Tarifa, where I had been living, had gone into a complete lockdown, so I packed my bags and headed to safer grounds in Sweden. It was like the pandemic didn’t exist in Sweden as we could go wherever we wanted with no restrictions. I was making full use of this and staying active outside by either cycling or kiting every day. Cycling has been a great alternative to kiting for me as I have had two or three bad knee injuries in the past and cycling has helped speed up the healing process.

My first trip after nearly four months in Sweden was to Holland. The kite scene in Holland is really good as you have riders like Jalou Langeree and Ruben Lenten shredding on the water. When Jalou told me there was a space free in her house I jumped at the opportunity and packed my bags and moved to Holland!

Now I am training with Jalou regularly and I am already starting to see a big improvement in my riding. It was great to have a few months of downtime in Sweden but the kite scene is small and there are not many girls to share the sport with. However, in Holland, I can train with some of the best kiters in the world and enjoy the stoke of the sport with other female riders.’


Another audacious Aussie who has proven themselves this competition is Peri Roberts (AUS). Peri was lucky enough to escape the lockdowns in Australia and spend the winter months training in the picturesque location of Maui.

‘I originally went to Maui to shoot the product launch for Naish but then I decided to stay there as it was too hard to get back to Australia. For the first month in Maui I was busy shooting but once that had finished I could simply relax and embrace the Island lifestyle. I was living the dream. Kiting, training, and exploring all that the beautiful Island has to offer. 

It was a struggle to stay in Maui for too long as my visa only lasted three months. So to solve this problem I headed over to Mexico and chased some insane 20ft swell’s which completely pushed me out of my comfort zone. After being in Mexico for a few weeks I started to feel extremely sick and was hospitalised as I had a picked up a viral stomach infection. Luckily, just after a day of being in the hospital, I was able to leave Mexico city and head back to more familiar grounds.

After returning to Maui they announced that they would be holding a GKA Kite-Surf event here in Sylt. This meant I had six weeks to go into full, beast mode and learn some new strapless freestyle tricks.’

Growing up in the surfers’ paradise of Newcastle, Peri has only ever trained wave riding and proved her exceptional skills in Cape Verde where she took home second place. Nevertheless, Peri did not fail to impress in Sylt as she had an impressive repertoire of freestyle moves showing that all her training in Maui had payed off.

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