Miss Stance : Gabi Steindl
Photo : Ian Trafford
Name : Gabi Steindl
Hometown : Margaret River, Western Australia (originally from Vienna, Austria)
Sponsors : North Kiteboarding, ION, Fanatic
Years of riding : 15
Hello Gabi! Could you introduce yourself to our readers that don’t know you yet?
I have been a pro-kitesurfer for the past 14 years. After following the PKRA World tour for many years, I called it quits with competition in 2007 and looked for a new challenge. Ever since then I have been fully focusing on wave-riding as well as my solo explorer-missions as globetrotting freerider, adventurer, journalist & travel-writer. Organizing media-projects all across the world, I capture my adventures in photos and texts (sometimes also film). Working with leading media channels internationally, my articles (I write in English and German) are translated further into ITA, FRA, SPA, etc. Currently I am also working on my first book. I’m stoked and feel privileged having visited over 60 countries, been part of TV and film productions, hosted a number of travel-shows and published over 100 articles so far. You can find samples of my work on my website www.kitegabi.com .
How did you start kiteboarding?
Well, that’s a true story in itself…. I could write a book about it 😉 Saying it in a few words is quite frankly nearly impossible but I’ll try:
15 years ago I was “Marketing & Distribution Manager” for the leading media group for adventure travel & extreme sports in Asia, based in Hong Kong. I had it all happening: A secretary twice my age, an office in a modern, architect’s delight skyscraper, lots of responsibility, business travels all around, an apartment in SOHO… I had achieved pretty much all of the professional aims that I had set myself as teenager. Then, one day, the very magazine that I was working for featured “Kitesurfing – The new Sport of the Century, a Revolution in the Water”. What I read back then and the first photos that I saw stimulated a deep obsession and the wish to learn… Shortly thereafter I gambled very high: I gave up a successful business career and decided to follow my heart instead of climbing the corporate career ladder more and more… Living my dreams and turning my passion into my profession was the most daredevil and most frightening thing I’ve ever done. However, it has also been the most rewarding and fulfilling step in my life. And I succeeded !
You have been in the kitesurfing world for a little while now. What do you think about the place of women in the sport nowadays?
It’s really good to see that there are generally heaps more women kitesurfing these days than when I started. That’s beautiful and also important for the development of the sport. Manufacturers realize the need for their support and sponsorship as well as it pushes advances in more specific girl-oriented gear (boards, harnesses, etc.), which of course helps girls to learn and progress faster. In the professional scene, the level of riding has increased drastically in recent years and it’s really fantastic to watch Bruna, Karolina, Colleen, Gisela and the other freestyle-chicks pushing the limits so incredibly hard, awesome work girls!
What achievement are you the most proud of?
Having been representing North Kiteboarding for the past 14 years and to still be going strong in the international scene.
Growing up in landlocked Austria in a highly conservative home, I certainly didn’t have many favorable factors going for me to become a kite-pro one day… It’s been a journey that has never been easy – to this day. I created the life that I live today, with sheer determination, 1000% commitment, lots of hard work, a considerable amount of risk and an untamable thirst for life and the wish to live my dreams. Today, I believe anybody can achieve anything in life, when you follow the voice of your heart and are willing to work very, very hard for it. The secret formula to live by: Dream, believe, commit – become.
With regards to competition results, I’m super proud having won the PKRA Team World Cup in Flexeiras, Brazil, in a team of three (the “North Rebels”) in 2006.
What advice(s) would you give to anyone who wants to start kitesurfing in the waves?
Take your time! If you don’t surf, start surfing as it will help you a great deal to understand waves better. Spend lots of time in the water, even if you ‘only’ go body-surfing. Be curious! Watch Mother Nature from land, how waves break, watch others riding waves, videos, read books etc. Try to learn as much as you can about waves. Riding waves with a kite is the greatest fun but it can also go horribly wrong in an instant. Never over-estimate your skills! When you don’t feel comfortable going out at a spot, don’t go! Take your time to progress safely.
Start in easy, “light” conditions at a safe place before venturing out into heavier, more serious surf. Always assess spots that you haven’t been out at before very carefully, analyze the ocean floor, type of break, the nature and shape of the reef, channels, look for rips and currents, pay attention to tide level and differences, and think about your emergency exit plan in case things go wrong. Always be prepared to ditch your gear and swim in!
In case of a wipe-out, losing your board and having to body-drag around in the impact zone, do everything to keep the kite up and always steer your kite in the opposite direction to the wave-energy when a wave is about to break right in front or on top of you!
What are your favorite kite conditions?
Reef break, 15-20 knots cross to cross-offshore, solid groundswell, only a few mates in the water.
What is your favorite kite spot, why and where do you dream to go?
Sorry, can’t tell my favorite spot, otherwise I’d be lynched 😉
I dream of Tahiti. Not necessary only for kiting only but for surfing and just the beauty of the place and its people!
What do you like to do when you are not kiteboarding?
Spending time in Mother Nature, everything outdoorsy (hiking, mountain biking etc.), meditating, reading, writing, taking photos.
What are your plans in the upcoming months?
I have a number of really exciting media-projects and trips lined up, to find and explore new kiting grounds and to share them with you guys! Stay tuned on www.kitegabi.com !
Also please “LIKE” me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kitegabi
Cheers, have fun in the water & stay safe!