Hawaii-based Moona Whyte burst back on to the Kite-Surf tour after a four-year break and landed her fourth world title. The 29-year-old US athlete closed out the title at the last stop of the year in Cauipe, Brazil. That was a remarkable double after she earlier took the wingfoil Wave world title. From her home in Oahu, she explained to Ian MacKinnon that she plans to step back from competition a little this year so she can visit new destinations, find fresh swells and push herself in bigger waves.
Question: How did it feel to win another world title after a four-year break?
Moona Whyte: It felt really good to win another Kite-Surf title. After a long break, I think that’s kind of what made it special. I didn’t know what to expect coming back on the tour. I didn’t compete for so long. So really, to come back with the win was amazing. It was a really tough battle also, especially at the end with Capucine [Delannoy]. So I’m really happy to get the title. It’s my fourth title.
Q: How was the season for you?
MW: So, similar thing to winging, I didn’t actually plan to do the whole tour last year. But I started in Cabo Verde, which is always a super-fun event and had really good waves. Then after winning that, I just kind of wanted to keep going. And we ended up with a lot of good waves on the tour. Throughout season we got lucky with good conditions. The second one was in Rio, Brazil. And it was somewhere I’ve never been before, which is really cool. Then Dakhla had amazing waves, as well. Like, they were some of the funnest that I’ve had in competition. Then, the last one in the north of Brazil was a really big, challenging one. The conditions were not so good, almost straight onshore [wind] and beach-break waves. So, with the title on the line, so that one was really tough but I had a lot of support to make it through.
Q: Did you feel pressure during the year?
MW: I guess I didn’t really have any pressure in the beginning because I was just gonna do that one event. Then as the year went on, I guess I kind of put some pressure on myself to win it just because it was more wave-focused and that’s my main discipline. So, yeah, I put some pressure on myself as I always do in competition.
‘Fun on the water’
Q: How do you deal with the pressure of competition?
MW: What works best for me is if I try to just have fun on the water, rather than thinking about considering it as a competition, and trying to win. I always do best if I’m more relaxed and thinking of it as a free riding session. I’ll always do better that way. Otherwise, if I’m thinking about winning all the time, I’ll get really nervous. Definitely at the last event of the year I dealt with that a lot because there was lot of pressure at the very end. But I always try to just have fun with it.
Q: What are your goals for the year and will you compete on the tour?
MW: I might do one event but I’m not gonna do the whole tour this year. I’m planning on doing fun trips, chasing swells and making some content, and hopefully push myself in some bigger waves.
Q: What’s the reason you have decided to step back a little?
MW: I guess it was just all the travel. There’s a whole lot of time, not just time, but the mindset you have to have for the entire year. I definitely enjoyed it last year, but I also missed having more time and freedom to go on other trips. You don’t always get the best conditions in competition. We were lucky last year to get some really good ones, but I just want to have some fun and find some new places to kite.
Q: Does your sponsor put you under any pressure to compete?
MW: They’re pretty chilled about what I do. Like I said, I might do one event, which they would be happy with. But yeah, I think they’re very happy with last year, and also see the value in chasing swells.
images: Svetlana Romanstsova / Lukas K Stiller