When we featured our guide to dry suits we received some comments that kitesurfing was best suited for warm water only. Of course we know this not to be true as there are many girls who go out in cold conditions all year round.
So, we thought with the support of Patagonia as one of her sponsors, the recently crowned 2x British Pro Freestyle Champion Rosanna Jury would be the perfect person to let us know a bit more about cold water kiting, and of course what she is up to.
KSm: Hi Rosanna, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Can you tell our readers a little bit about who you are and where you are from?
RJ: Hi KiteSista! Well, my roots are in Devon, South west England but at the moment I’m mostly based in Southampton, in the middle of the UK’s south coast, where I’m studying at medical school. Growing up in Devon we did a lot of surfing and surf life saving and really any cool sport that was at the beach. Then I was introduced to kitesurfing by a friend’ s older brother and when I got to Southampton, I got into freestyle kiting on flat water with everyone at uni. We have loads of good kiting spots around the south coast that work all year round.
KSm: So being from the UK means you get your fair share of all year round cold water kiting. Do you feel this has been an advantage or disadvantage to your kitesurfing progression?
RJ: Some of the UK summer sessions have been the best I’ve had anywhere, but it’s true that your progression in UK winter sessions isn’t going to measure up to that in somewhere like Australia. I think as long as you accept this though and don’t let it faze you then it doesn’t matter. When I kite on cold winter days I’m not always going out to progress- cold water feels a lot harder to crash on than warm water! I just go to enjoy the freedom that the ocean gives you and have fun.
The unpredictability of UK frontal wind is sometimes dis-heartening if your session is written off by squalls, but my friend always says, ‘you need at least 3 rubbish sessions to make the good ones so special’!… It definitely keeps me extra grateful for every warm day.
KSm: Do you think that kiting in the cold affects the spirit and ambiance surrounding your sessions with your fellow girls?
RJ: Definitely! I think that being stretched from your comfort zone brings you closer together and we always have a great time, even if the best part is the hot chocolate to warm up after having been dunked in the freezing cold sea!
KSm: Do you have any particular tips for making the cold easier to deal with?
RJ: I’d say number 1 is to get a decent wetsuit. I love my suits from Patagonia! They are lined with Marino wool so don’t need to be as thick as other suits, making them very flexible whilst still keeping you really warm. They keep me plenty warm enough all year round.
A giant thermos of hot chocolate is also key!
KSm: Is there a point when you say ˜enough is enough and stop kiting for the winter?
RJ: I don’t like riding in gloves so when it comes to the odd really frosty days in January or February I have been known to wimp out, but normally I will go for a quick dunk until my fingers are numb.
KSm: Are there any tricks at all for us girls to look good in the water when it is so cold and you are covered head to toe in neoprene.
RJ: Blue lips are never going to be a good look but the sea doesn’t care what you look like so I think just get in and out quick and head for a hot shower.
KSm: Ok, enough cold water walk, it is giving us the shivers. You are currently the British Pro Freestyle Champion for the second time in a row, firstly congratulations. What got you into competing, and how have you found it so far?
RJ: I first met the UK competition crew when I was about 16. My friend’s older brother, who first introduced me to kiting whilst I was growing up in Devon was competing on the national British tour and he took me along with him to my first event. I wasn’t confident enough in my riding to compete at first but wanted to see what it was like and I left that weekend feeling really inspired by the pros to practice loads so that I could compete the next year. The girls I met that weekend are now some of my closest friends and we always have a great time at the competitions.
KSm: Are you planning on defending your title and taking part in more international competitions this year?
RJ: Yep! I am still enjoying competing so will hopefully do the British and European tours and go to my first PKRA event this summer.
KSm: How hard a choice has it been for you to decide between pursuing a kitesurfing career and sticking with medical school and what obstacles have you faced?
RJ: My medical school has been quite supportive and after I became British champion in 2013 they let me take a year out to kite in Australia and do the KTA and KTE. But, now I’ve re-joined my 4th year at medical school probably the hardest thing has been that sometimes I feel like I’m living a double life and there’s not enough time to be on the water as much as I’d like and to keep up with university life.
I want to eventually work as a doctor because I can’t think of a more rewarding job, but kiting is my passion and I think it’s important to find a balance that works for you so for now I will keep making the most of all the opportunities to kite more that come my way.
KSm: How supportive have your family been with your choices?
RJ: All my family are into sports and love the outdoors and beach. My parents have never been a part of my competition life because it was always something I did with friends, but my dad is also a kiter and he inspired me at the beginning and always encouraged my 2 sisters and I in every sport going. It was when I was considering giving up medical school that my parents weren’t so sure about the whole kiting thing. I have the view that it shouldn’t really matter what anyone else thinks though, it’s your life so you should follow whatever passion you have. I’m lucky that my parents have never put a lot of pressure on me to do anything specifically and I know deep down that they would support me in anything, no matter what it might be that I want to do.
KSm: What advice would you give to other girls faced with this same situation and pressures?
RJ: Just do whatever you want to do, and do whatever you’re enjoying for as long as you’re enjoying it! Never turn your back on your goals, because if you really want to do something, there’s nearly always a way to make it work for you.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and we wish you all the best with the year ahead.