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Meet the GKA team, episode 2: On stand by with Jo

Friday 3rd April
Location: Hamburg
Words: Kate Chandler

Did you catch On Stand By with Jo this week? 

We have a new biweekly live program here at the GKA. On StandBy with Jo will be live on Instagram each Wednesday and Sunday at 9pm CET. Our first guest was Camille Dellanoy, who gave us insights on how he’s coping with being locked down, his favourite harness, and just exactly who has been cutting his hair…

We will be live again this Sunday with Juila Castro, at 9pm CET on instagram stories. Our host for On Stand By is Jo Ciastula. Jo will be no stranger to GKA fans, as he’s the voice and face of the GKA along with Gemma Hamaini on our livestreams. Here we’ll give you the chance to get to know them a little better before the next episode.

You might not have guessed it but Jo is British, Cornish born he grew up playing with boogyboards or snoozing under board racks as a kid while his parents ran their board factory. His parents made the move to Tarifa as part of the infamous No Work Team and Jo joined the local Spanish school and from that point was fully integrated into the Spanish lifestyle.

Jo got the kite bug early after seeing the Red Bull sky Riders back in 2002 a friend taught him to kite and he started hanging around a local kite school Sons of Desert, helping out in return for using equipment as most kite groms do. It took him a while to get up and going but once he did there was no stopping him. He worked as an instructor and got sponsored by Wipika,  competitions were never “his thing” although he’ll tell you he’d have won if wipeouts counted! 

His crew hasn’t changed much in all this time, back then he was kiting and hanging with Alvaro Onieva, Mallory Hersart de la Villemarque, Rui Meira, Cesar Portas who are all part of the GKA team too. He’d hide his kite gear in the school janitors office and hit the beach with friends as soon as it finished. When he finished high school Jo joined the PKRA World Tour and competed for Gaastra, after which he was fortunate to join the Airush R&D team which changed the course of his life.

I joined the Airush family and started getting into the development and R&D side of the game. Spent seasons in Australia with the designer Mark Pattison, Clinton Filen and learnt the other side of the kite industry. I had found what I loved to do and learnt so much from these guys. 

We would travel the globe, test kites, come up with new ideas and make them happen. I still remember the first time I met Mark. He told me that if you wanted to be a tester I had to know all the different parts of a kite. He printed out a 2m DNA kite, taught me to use a sewing machine and said – there you go – when you can put this together you are our guy. Took me 2 weeks, but it flew!!! Great memories with the Airush crew.

Jo then went on to work for the legendary Jaime Herraiz, as shop manager at Wet Watersports, it was here he realised he had the gift of the gab, and loved talking with customers, helping to buy their new kit, keeping stock right and making retail sales. Jamie was involved with the GKA along with Jorgen, and before he knew it he’d gone from store manager to tour manager. Which he’ll tell you was a great experience and steep learning curve! 

When current tour manager, Tom Hartmann came on the scene Jo found himself in front of a camera with a mic in his hand and felt truly at home, he’d found his calling so to speak.

There is nothing I love more than grabbing that mic and shouting out about our riders on the water. There is something about seeing a crowd’s reaction when you are telling a story and adding to the hype, nothing like it and I am hooked!

This season so far started off with a bang. I´m the official commentator for the GKA Kite World Tour, Red Bull King of the Air 2020, Kitefest Argentina and also a few big Crossfit events like the Madrid Championships (sancional event for the Crossfit games 2020). I am a very lucky guy, loving where I am at the moment and very thankful to all the people that helped show me different paths along the way.

Hard and uncertain times at the moment, but I know the GKA family will get through this and come out the other side even stronger. Life is all about reinventing yourself, so bring it on. Ahhhhhhhh!!!

 

We have two stars on our live stream, dream-team and it’s time to introduce Gemma Hamaini. Gemma has been with us for two seasons now, but before joining the GKA she did 6 seasons with the Freestyle World Tour. That’s where she picked up an interest in working on a livestream but her background is in Social Media and Marketing. For Gemma one of the best parts of working with the GKA is getting to work with Jo as they’ve been friends for 16 years! What’s not to love about sharing your passion for kitesurfing with the world and one of your good friends at the same time!

It’s not always plain sailing at our events, dodgy internet connections, the weather and rural locations can make a livestream reporting tricky at times but Gemma hopes that GKA fans still enjoy the show when the camera rolls!

“I hope that everyone at home enjoys watching the action from each event…and appreciates the sometimes stressful moments we go through behind the scenes to make it all happen”

Don’t forget to tune in to our live shows every Wednesday and Sunday on instagram. Send us your questions for Julia Castro in an instagram DM. See you Sunday, On Stand By, with Jo.

 

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