Kiteboarder Hope LeVin: Real Role Models
I first met Hope at the life-changing Dream Extreme women’s kiteboarding charity event. She was one of the kiteboarding pros who volunteered to fly in to teach, in her case from the Caribbean paradise Turks & Caicos.
I was impressed that such a young woman was a kiteboarding coach, and semi- professional kiteboarder. She looks like a normal, albeit supercute girl, and not what you would expect of an extreme athlete. She also has a soft-spoken down to earth friendliness. On the water, she is so fierce, and strong. Hope gives me hope for other young women, and she’s definitely a LivLuna Real Role Model. Check out her inspiring interview, pics and video below. How cool is Hope? If she doesn’t make you want to kiteboard, I don’t know who will!
I had the chance to interview Hope after this year’s Dream Extreme event, which I helped organize, LivLuna helped sponsor, and which raised over 200k for victims of domestic violence.
Maria: What is it like to be a female kiteboarder in a sport that is 90% male dominated?
Hope: I have three brothers and only one sister, so I’m already used to the male dominance thing! Growing up I was always waging war and doing crazy things with my bothers. I have fond memories of building a chariot for one of our goats, but thats a story for another day! So kiting is kind of the same thing for me now. Only we are building rails and kickers and get hurt on those instead of goat carts!
Maria: Why do you think women would benefit from learning to kiteboard?
Hope: I think the learning process teaches you about yourself and helps build patience. It can be frustrating if you don’t have it, but that first time riding upwind is so rewarding and shows the value of patience. Kiting does also have a certain degree of danger, so it’s great for building confidence too! If i can kite, I can totally…!
Maria: Do you have to be fit, athletic, and a good swimmer to learn to kiteboard?
Hope: You need to be able to swim, that’s a must. Being able to swim and knowing your limits is the most important thing. The rule is never kite out further than you could swim back. Which doesn’t need to be too far! As to being fit and athletic, that will come after you learn to kite! Your harness takes most of the pull from the kite, and you could fly it with just two fingers.
Maria: What have you learned teaching beginners?
Hope: I’ve learnt that students can only process so much, and you need to keep the instructions and the learning process simple. Emphasize the most important points, focus on building the foundation skills and progress onwards. I read this quote recently and though it’s more focused on life, it relates to teaching too! “It was like putting the beach into a jar. The point wasn’t to fit everything in, it was to attend to the most important things first – the big beautiful rocks – the most valuable people – and fit the lesser things in around them”. It’s too easy for things to get too complicated and the student to have a sensory overload when teaching. Keep it simple!
Maria: Do you find marked differences in the ways males and females approach and learn the sport?
Hope: Absolutely! Girls are generally (there are exceptions!) much more timid, so you need to build up their confidence with the kite. Guys on the other hand will just tomahawk the kite through the power zone and eat it!
Maria: Were you always athletic growing up- was kiteboarding an easy sport for you to get into?
Hope: I wouldn’t say I was athletic. I went swimming and rode ponies a lot, but that was about it. I never did any of the tradition sports or team sports. I started kiting when I was 11 so the learning process seems like a distant memory! I do remember it took me about 6 months to ride in both directions – I would be able to ride one way, out to sea, and then have to swim back! Kind of crazy when I think about it! But I think kiting was relatively easy for me because it was so new and different. And that’s something that most people getting into kiting will experience. It’s fun to be adventurous and try new things!
Maria: What inspires you?
Hope: Too many things! Sometimes I have too many ideas and inspiration and need to be reminded to step back and only focus on a few things! I began organizing Windvibes, the Turks and Caicos’s only kiteboarding event when I was 13, and that has taught me that anything is possible. When I need motivation to study or do a project, I try to think back that if I could pull off Windvibes when I genuinely didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I can finish a project now!
Traveling often inspires me a lot because it takes me out of my island comfort zone and opens my mind to new ideas. There’s also a small group of select people that inspire me too. Sometime if I need motivation to go cycling or do something, I’ll watch an interview and bam, I’m ready to go!
Maria: What are your dreams for the future?
Hope: Be happy somewhere near a beach! I really enjoying kiteboarding and event organisation, so I’m just finishing my University degree, keeping an open mind and seeing where the sport takes me!
Hope LeVin is 20 years old. She has lived in the Turks & Caicos since infancy, and has been kiteboarding for 9 years. She is currently studying for a Business degree through LSE, and has been the organiser of Windvibes, the Turks & Caicos’s kiteboarding and watersports event for 7 years. Her sponsors are Big Blue Unlimited, Blue Surf Shop, Visit Turks & Caicos Islands, Naish Kiteboarding, and Ride Engine.
You can find Hope on Facebook and support her by liking her here.