Interview with pro kiteboarder Seb Garat
We have interviewed professional kiteboarder Sébastien Garat from France. Seb won the KPWT World Tour twice and the the European Championship (Kite Tour Europe) last year. Seb is 28 years old and lives in France. He is sponsored by RRD and Cool Shoe. Here is what he had to say:
Q: You have been competing at an international level for several years now. Do you like competition a lot? Could you imagine kiteboarding without competition?
A: Yes, I have been traveling to competitions since 2005. It’s quite a long time now and it’s been a lot of events. Of course, I really like to compete and I always had this on my mind since I was very young. I’m doing this because it’s a pleasure even if sometimes it’s hard to lose, but I think I could not imagine my carreer without competing.
Q: At age 28 you are probably the oldest frequent freestyle rider on the tour. Are you not afraid of being beaten up by the young riders? For how long do you think can you keep up with the younger riders?
A: Of course, at most tour stops I am the oldest freestyler on tour. Cesar Portas has the same age but he quit the PKRA, and Mike Blomvall is older than me but he only does a few tour stops. Young riders are coming to the tour every year, and actually they push me to keep training to stay at the top level. It’s hard sometimes for my body, because freestyle is very tough now as we need to be perform with more power, more speed, more height. But for the time being, I’m still able to be ranked in the top 10 of the World Freestyle ranking so I’m gonna do it as long as my body can do it. I hope for a few years still. I will see how long I can hold on.
Q: Do you have any advantages compared to the younger competitors?
A: With many years competing, I think my biggest advantage is the experience. I know exactly what to do in a 7 minutes heat and I have perfected my timings in the competition. And now, I don’t feel any pressure when I’m competing, and that’s something really important.
Q: What are your plans after retiring from the freestyle competition?
A: I always liked to perform a show for the spectators, and I would like to make more and more demos and kite shows. I love to see people screaming and smiling when I’m doing a 15 meters jump in Leucate or a mega loop. That’s a part of my job I think to show what kitesurfing really is about and how beautiful it is to watch. So I hope to make more and more demos for the promotion of my sport.
As well, I created a clothing brand just one year ago with 2 friends. It’s called Madone. We bring all the life style of travelling and beach sports to a high end “sport couture”. It’s a french chic ready to wear.
Q: How come you spend a lot of time in New Caledonia? Do you stay at with your friend Tom? What is it like to live in such a remote place surrounded by water?
A: I discovered New Caledonia in 2006 and I really fell in love with this island, its beatuy and the quality of the kiteboarding spots there. I used to spend a lot of time there on the past 4 years as I had a girlfriend there. But life changes, and now I’m back living in Montpellier. But I’m still going there 1 or 2 months a year to enjoy the wind and visit some really good friends like my mate Tom Hebert! When you stay in New Caledonia like, I spend almost every single day on the water. Either kitesurfing, surfing or when there is now wind I go fishing! That’s a good life.
Q: What is it that you enjoy most being a professional kiteboarder? Learning new tricks, making movies, hanging out with friends, traveling, etc.?
A: Being a professional kiteboarder brings you an incredible freedom. I have a lot of time to fill, and I need to plan well. I participate in competitions, do photo shoots trips with magazines or sponsors and other events like promotions etc.. I like every part of my lifestyle. Traveling is something I truly love, and the best part of it is that I do it always with close friends who share the same passion.
I also really like to work with some good photographer during photo shoots. It’s hard work, and it’s a pleasure to make the best possible shots e.g. find the best position and timing to jump where is the best place to jump, where to look, how to move the body, etc. At the end of the day, you can enjoy the shots that were the result of a continuous adjustment process.
Q: You won the Kite tour Europe last year? What is the KTE like compared to the PKRA? What is the level of riding. Do you like this structure of global, continental and national championships? What could be improved?
A: Yes, I was crowned European Champion last year. I’m really happy about it. The KTE looks like the PKRA. It’s a freestyle tour, only in European countries. The level is quit good with a lot of riders doing it. Of course it’s not as hard of the PKRA as the top PKRA riders didn’t do the tour. But it was quit challenging to fight against some of the best European riders.
The tour is very well organised, and very professional after only 2 years. I’m sure it could be bigger in the next year. I think there would be even more riders if the prize money increases.
Q: Have you got the Windfinder app for Iphone? Do you like it? What is missing/what could be improved?
A: I really like it. I expected an app with only wind forecast, and was really surprised to see how complete this app is. You can configure a “wind alert”, so you don’t need to keep watching the forecasts. The app alerts you when it’s windy at your favorite spot. It also has news from the kiteboarding scene. Very cool! Go and get it!