It was 2007 when Laila Puehringer got addicted to kitesurfing. The hometown of the half-austrian-half-moroccan Ozone teamrider from Vienna travels a lot and has also been living in the Dominician Republic. Since 2009 she participates in kite contests, also in the worldcup – in former times in freestyle, now strapless in the waves. In the GKA-Wave-Competition which took place in Mauritius this September she missed out on the semi finals by a single point. But she says: „I am hungry for more!“
Here she tells us why she switched from twintip to surfboard and what’s the best way to start with strapless kitesurfing.
5 questions to: Laila Puehringer
What about your first kitesurfing experiences?
- A friend of mine was super motivated to learn kitesurfing and she convinced me to do a kite course in Podersdorf, Austria. But we were unlucky with the weather and the wind, so we couldn’t make a lot of progress. After that I was not really interested in kiting anymore. One year later I moved to the Dominician Republic. My then-boyfriend managed a kiteschool and persuaded me to try it again. As I didn’t had to pay for the course, I said yes. At this time I could never ever imagine to get that crazy about kitesurfing!
Some years ago you participated in freestyle competitions, now in wave contests. Why did you switch?
- Well, there were many reasons. One was that I broke my fifth lumbar vertebra in 2013 (it was a kitesurfing accident). And at a certain point freestyle was not anymore what I wanted to do. I was always fascinated by waveriding, and I like to surf at any given opportunity. So I tried the combination of surfing and kiting – and I immediately loved it! Everything felt totally natural for me, altough in the beginning I was a little scared by big waves. But I love the challenge, the fun and being one with the ocean and the waves during kiting.
Do you still like to ride twintips?
- There was a time when I liked it a lot. But now I can’t really remember when I used a twintip board for the last time. It must be more than a year ago! To be honest it’s very seldom that I feel the desire to ride a twintip – if so, then in strong winds when I want to go high.
Should every kitesurfer try to go strapless? What’s the best way to start?
- Yes, of course! In the beginning it’s challenging to stand on a surfboard without straps. But the moment when you catch your first wave feels absolutely fantastic. About my first strapless experiences: I started with a very small, normal surfboard. I would advise to buy a used one for the beginning. It shouldn’t be too small or too big (inform yourself before). In the beginning my board was half-padded (at the rear end), half-waxed. Since I tried a fully padded board, I don’t want to change anymore!What’s also important for beginners: You should start at a flat spot without big waves. Just ride and practice turns. For me it was perfect first to practice in very small waves and then slowly go towards the bigger ones. Keep in mind that if you want to ride waves you should be able to do perfect jibes – otherwise you will miss lots of waves. You can find a jibe tutorial on my facebook site!
My favourite spots:
For regular riders: Marokko (Essaouira; Moulay for advanced riders), Dominician Republic (Punta Goleta; Encuentro for advanced riders – but also Punta Goleta can get big!).
For goofy stance riders (I go backside there which is my weaker side: South Africa (Big Bay), Mauritius (only advanced)).
What do you think is the main difference between men and women in kiting?
- Sometimes I think that men really are much less afraid to try new things. Women are way more careful in approaching new tricks or waves. But in matters of endurance in kitesurfing women and men are equal! If you ask me male and female style isn’t really comparable – there’s a huge difference. Both styles look great!
You want to know more about Laila? Check out her site and Social Media:
Coverfoto: (c) Georg Scheu