He may come from the land down under, but is standing on top of the world, the PKRA freestyle kiteboarding tour that is. In a recent interview with the current world freestyle tour leader Andy Yates he describes his passions and plans for reaching the top. If you have a clear vision of what you want then there are no impossibilities.
1. You have watched as other professional PKRA freestyle riders such as five time world champion Aaron Hadlow, 2009 world champion Kevin Langeree, as well as Alex Pastor have stood at the top of the podium, please tell us how does it feel to be amongst the names of event title winners?
When I first started kiting, I watched all the PKRA videos on the internet of mainly Aaron and Kevin. I always aspired to get to the PKRA level, and really worked hard get to where I am now. When I first started competing in the PKRA tour in late 2008, I was a little daunted by the top guys. Being in the same heat as them felt quite surreal and it took me a while to adjust. Especially in the last year however, my confidence has grown so much and I now know I can beat anyone.
2. Where have you trained during the off-season, and what are your goals for this pro kite tour season?
I stayed at home for almost all of it. After travelling the world to all the famous kiting destinations, I have realized that I’m so lucky to have what I have at home. I live on an awesome open beach where I learnt to kite, and have amazing flat water spots close by. Definitely the best spots in the world. And if there’s no wind, I go for surfs with my friends or the occasional SUP. Last year I achieved my goal of a top 5 finish overall, which I was so happy about. At the start of this year it was my goal to finish in the top 3, but now being ranked first overall, my new goal is to retain this and become the 2010 world champion.
3. In a recent interview with Aaron Hadlow, he mentions that his bets are in favor of Youri Zoon to win the world title this year, what do you feel about this and what do you think it will take in order for you to win the world title?
I’m not really too fussed about what other people think. Everyone has their bets on who will be this year’s world champion. I’m just going to give it my all and hopefully my year continues to keep going as good as it has started. I think I just have to keep on going how I’ve been going and it will unfold how I want it to â˜º.
4. Do you think that there should be a certain criteria or standards of riding that should be emphasized in order to compete at the professional level?
The PKRA tour has been around for so many years now, and if there are a large number of competitors for an event, these riders compete in a qualifying competition before the main event draw. So far this seems to work well. I don’t think anything needs changing. As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty good as it is.
5. Besides kiteboarding, do you have any other hobbies or interests?
I surfed for 7 years before I started kiteboarding. I can’t rave on enough about surfing, a good session on my open beach with friends is pretty much as good as it gets. I thought I’d be a waverider for sure when I started kiteboarding, but as it turned out, freestyle was far more enjoyable for me. Apart from surfing, I get out for SUPs when there is no swell and no wind. It’s such a silly sport when you think about it, standing up on a million inch thick board with a paddle. I look like a total douche out on it amongst the normal surfers, but nevertheless, I love it!! I love the beach and water sports, but apart from that, I love playing shooting games online on my Xbox360. It relaxes me and if kiting gets a bit too much, I just seek confront in shooting people online. â˜º
6. Who inspired you to become a professional kiteboarding athlete?
When I started kiteboarding, I had no intention of getting to the professional level. It was only with the continual support of all my friends and especially my family that made me realise I could do it. Also, after watching countless videos online in the early days of my kiting, it was definitely Aaron, Ruben and Kevin who inspired me to take my kiting further.
7. What advice would you give to a kiteboarder who is attempting their first handle pass?
Just hang in there. Learning your first handle passes can be so incredibly frustrating at times. I think you just have to really think about the trick, visualise doing it and believe that you can do it. You definitely take heaps of hits, so it’s really important to progressively work your way through them, starting at easier ones, getting them consistent BEFORE moving on to more difficult ones.
8. In your opinion, what is the definition of a great kiteboarder?
A great kiteboarder for me is someone who is consistent in every sort of conditions, whether it is 12 knots or 30 knots, choppy water or flat. For competition riding especially, the prize goes to the rider who can perform at every event.
9. What are your long-term goals, and where do you see yourself in 3 years?
My main goal is to become the PKRA world champion!! All my focus is going into this and once I achieve it, I will re-evaluate where I go from there. At the moment, I am competing on the tour while completing a Bachelor of Science degree. It’s quite hard at times but education is definitely high on my priorities, so it’s worth it.
10. How difficult is it to obtain good sponsors, and how did you land your first contract deal?
Amazingly hard. My first major sponsor was with Slingshot International at the beginning of 2008. I was so stoked to sign with Slingshot and I can’t thank them enough for their continual support over the last few years!!
11. What would it mean for you to win the world championship title?
Obviously I would be stoked. Not everyone can say that they were world champion haha. Hopefully this year is my year to experience how it feels to be crowned world champion â˜º.
12. The final tour stop of the 2010 season is planned for Australia, how do you feel about competing in your home country for the first time?
When I found out that there would be an event at the Gold Coast in Australia, I was STOKED!!!! I was happy when they made New Caledonia an event, because it’s close to my home, but an event on the Gold Coast is a whole different story. I can just drive there and have all my friends and family there to support me. We’re going to go all out for it. I seriously can’t wait. And being crowned world champion there will be the best ever. Like seriously the best ever.
For more information on Andy Yates and to see his progression throughout this year’s PKRA tour season, visit his website: http://www.andyyates.com.au/web/