Redesign, reshape, rethink

Former Kitesurf World Champion Peri Roberts probably wasn’t alone in fearing that wingfoiling might degrade the standing of her primary windsport passion… But, now that the dust is settling, it’s clear to Peri that they can go hand in hand…

Words: Peri Roberts
Photos: Marie Charmasson

I don’t think many people like to admit to being a self-proclaimed hypocrite, and as much as it hurts me to say so – I think I’m exactly that. I’m not totally embarrassed by this notion… I’ve been somewhat “proved wrong” on my initial assumptions of this weird and wonderful world of wing foiling.

I am fully open to the idea that my once sceptical opinion has been turned on its head. Why? It’s not because I’ve completely fallen in love with the sport, or because I’ve taken to it like a duck to water; I would probably reference myself to a flailing humpback whale instead. And I definitely wouldn’t call myself obsessed like a lot of you are. But I’m finally glad that I’ve moved past this hypocrisy because it’s forced me to redesign, reshape and rethink my life as a professional waterwoman.

Now before anyone reads that and has a giggle; I use the term “waterwoman” lightly. I’ve grown up to love the ocean. I’ve surfed since I was six, I’ve wakeboarded, long boarded, short boarded, stand-up paddle boarded, foil boarded – all the “boardeds” if you must. I’ve been a kitesurfer for 10 years now… four of those years professionally. It’s not just one sport that makes my cogs turn, it’s the allure of the ocean and what it has to offer. The ultimate success story for me is to be in the water as much as possible… that’s why I’m now led to believe that winging is just another vehicle to get me there.

Honestly, if you knew me four years ago when this random bat wing, windsurfing hybrid thing came out, you’d know I wouldn’t be caught dead using one of them. But sure enough, like most things in our world, it caught on and now this silly fusion of wind sports might just be the “future”.

I’m not totally sure why I was so against winging in the first place. Was I afraid that what kitesurfing did to windsurfing, winging was going to do to kitesurfing? Was it because I finally started to establish myself as a kitesurfer among the best, touring the globe and living the endless summer professional dream?

I was adamant I wasn’t interested in winging. Every time I got on the damn thing I couldn’t figure it out, it didn’t click and this new challenge was put in the ‘too hard’ basket. I spent hours sitting in the water, probably cursing, after my 200th attempt at getting moving. I would just hit a point and say, nope. Not today. Not for me. No thank you. The towel gets thrown in once again… What does that say about me? Am I a quitter? Am I too scared of my ego getting hurt over the fact I wasn’t the best in the world straight off the bat?

But as the world changes and our sports evolve, I’m finding that determined, fight-all attitude towards everything, again. Now I’m finding myself reshaping my identity as a kitesurfer, reshaping my views on this new vessel and rethinking ways I pursue my passion: the ocean.

There’s a funny story behind these photos, because really, I should be writing an article on kitesurfing one of the best waves in the world, not pouring out my sob story in its place. But here we are…

If you’re accustomed to a wind sports addiction like I’m guessing the majority of you wingers reading this are, you’ll understand how difficult and frustrating it can be to line a trip up. There are so many things you have to take into account; wind, waves, weather… to name but a few. The harder the place is to line up, generally speaking, the more epic those sessions will be. Forever memory kinda sessions. Fiji is one of those places… and even after forecasting and jumping on a plane with two photographers last minute, it just didn’t happen for us.

Only three weeks prior to jumping on that plane, I had my first successful wing session (and by successful, I mean I riding for more than 10 meters). I was going through a rough patch at home, and for me, when shit hits the fan, I get on the road to clear my head, turn the negative into motivation and drink it like a fine wine (plus a few real ones). Using that opportunity to channel simple frustrations into something special. So, I drove 27 hours north to Cairns, Queensland in Australia, to quite literally bootcamp myself to learn winging.

Learning something you’re not interested in is quite hard. But the time had come and I needed to hop aboard the ‘wing foil train’, become an unashamed kook again, and put my learner’s permit back on. To be honest, it really scared me. But somehow, I made it work well enough to get these beautiful shots in Fiji. I guess patience is a virtue, one I’m also still learning.

We had one full day of winging and bringing my foil quiver just meant that we could actually utilize the weather to its full potential. If I didn’t bootcamp myself beforehand… we would’ve been well and truly skunked. I guess that’s the reason my garage is full to the brim with water sport toys. My family has FOMO of missing out on any session. With this so called ‘addiction’ (call it a bad habit or not) we’ll always have a vehicle to take us there.

I’m finding myself reshaping my identity as not only a kitesurfer, but as a waterwoman, and realizing that winging was never going to compromise kitesurfing, it could never take away that passion and love I have for it. I’m understanding however that it is adding depth to my sessions on the water.

So, from this day forward, I’ve joined the club. I might not be the best, but hey, the egotistical, hypocritical Pez has taken a turn for the better. And maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll become as addicted to the world of wingfoiling as you guys probably are.

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