Teresa Cullen is a young rider from Ireland, clumsy and not very sporty when she was younger, tap dancer, snowboard instructor and now recently a kite instructor too. Let’s meet her…
Here at KiteSista we know that we get to spend a lot of time looking at and getting to know the pro-riders, but we would also like you to get to know riders more like YOU whose journeys, goals and aspirations might be a bit closer to home and easier for you to connect with.
Teresa Cullen is one such rider, from Ireland, clumsy and not very sporty when she was younger, tap dancer, snowboard instructor and now recently a kite instructor too …we caught up with her as she start to get to grips with her first unhooked tricks and has some fun on the water.
The beauty of this lifestyle is that I have the freedom to have no idea exactly where I will be tomorrow, never mind in one years time. There are so many spots I have yet to explore. All I know is that I will be kiting, somewhere in the world and training extra hard to improve my freestyle riding and working towards my dream of being a sponsored rider!
Both! When you become so invested in a sport, it automatically becomes your passion. kiting is so much more a than just a sport, it’s a lifestyle. The beauty is that when you go to one spot you can find anything from the young freestyle rider, to the over 60’s hydrofoiler! But at the end of the day, we all share a post session beer because we are bound by the same passion.
My dad learnt about kites from a book and then he taught me on one of our home spots, Portsalon beach, County Donegal. Our interest started by flying foil kites on land and the using a buggy and mountain board on the beach. Then one day we saw someone on the water and that was it, that had to be our next step! My dad immediately bought the equipment, we shared a harness (with no safety leash lol), kite, board and we figured it out from there! It was awesome!
I have travelled to places I would never have discovered without kitesurfing. I have even discovered more of my own country by chasing the wind! I’ve learnt new languages on the way and made friends for life. Kiting made me believe the impossible is possible!
What would you do right now had you not become kiter?
I would be finishing my training to become a school teacher. I love teaching, but I have no desire to have 4 walls around my classroom. Kiting lets me teach in nature. The ocean is my classroom now! What’s better than that?!
Biggest challenge you had to over come for kitesurfing?
I have a hearing condition resulting in partial hearing loss in both ears which I wear hearing aids to correct. This effects my balance A LOT. All my life I have been the kid who was tripping over things and falling over even when I was just standing still (still happens sometimes haha)! I am a very clumsy person so kiting was especially difficult for me to learn and I have to spend more time on the water perfecting my tricks. But I am very determined and I hope that in the future I will have the opportunity to teach people like myself and with other disabilities too.
Apart from that, single difficulty for me has been unhooking, for sure! I love freestyle riding and I always want to progress! But I am not a fast learner so I have to spend more time on the water perfecting my tricks. I got so comfortable hooked that I was just crashed all the time when I started to unhook. But practice makes perfect!
Who had the most influence on you as a kitesurfer?
Without my dad, I never would have discovered the sport so for that I am forever grateful. However, my biggest inspiration is my first ever freestyle coach and very close friend Laci Kobulsky. He is such amazing talent and truly inspired me to make kiting not just a hobby, but a career! He trains me a lot and pushes me out of my comfort zone on the water, a real honour to ride with!
What is the most hilarious situation kiteboarding got you into?
One crazy moment in kitesurfing career stands out for me. If I didn’t laugh about it, I’d cry! I had just qualified as an instructor and I started working for a great kite school in Sicily! My first student was the owner of the school’s girlfriend. It was a water start lesson and it was going really well until literally the last seconds of the lesson! She tripped when stepping out of the board and somehow broke her leg in 3 places! It was such a freak accident!
I wish I could say I held it together but I passed out of the sight of her injury. Such a dramatic scene, both instructor and student being attended to by the paramedics. Thankfully she is a lot better now and returning to kiting!
If you had a magic wand what would you change in kiteboarding?
I always wished I could personalise the design on my own kite! I would have the most colourful kite on the water… you’d see me from space!
Also, I would also love to see kitesurfing to grow bigger in Ireland. It has so much potential but so many young people in Ireland are so unaware of the sport! I dream of a ‘North kiteboarding Ireland’ team and with me on it of course!
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