Interview with ANDREA PRINCIPI (ITA)

Twin-Tip Big Air World Champion

Ciao ANDREA, and massive congratulations for winning the GKA Big Air World Title. What an enormous achievement, even more so, given that you’re only 17 years old. We are super stoked for you!

Can you please tell us a little bit about your background? Where and how did you grow up and what about school?
I was born and grew up in Calambrone, in Tuscany, Italy. From a very young age I’ve been big into sports. Before I got into kitesurfing, I did competitive skiing for 11 years, played rugby and spent a lot of time in the gym. I still have one more year to go before finishing high school. Last year was pretty tricky to focus on both school, and as well on all the kiting, training and competitions, but I succeeded.

How did you get into kiteboarding? Please tell us more about your kite beginnings.
I started kiteboarding when I was 11, thanks to my mother. She has been running her own kite school in Tuscany for seven years now, the Kite School Calambrone. When I saw her flying a kite and jumping, my passion was ignited and I knew, I wanted to fly through the air just like her. So I asked my mum to teach me and for the first year, she’s the one who taught me everything. Since then, I’ve pretty much taught myself everything. In the gym, however, I have a trainer.

Wow, that’s so cool with your mum inspiring you. How about your dad, does he kitesurf too?
Yeah, dad kitesurfs too, but my mum is better than him. ;-) She even competed at a number of big air events in 2021, such as the BAKL in South Africa and also in Brazil. She went well, coming third in Brazil and fifth in South Africa.

At what stage in your kiteboarding journey, did you decide you wanted to become a pro rider?
That wasn’t a decision that I made overnight. It kind of slowly happened by itself. At some point, I just realised that I simply couldn’t live without kitesurfing anymore and I went for it with 100% commitment. That’s when it all really started.

Please tell us more, about your first events and the journey from stepping into the industry up until now.
It’s been a crazy ride. I took part in my first World Championship competition in May in 2021 in Tarifa, the Full Power Tarifa. Obviously, I had no idea how I would go, but I finished third, which was insane! That’s really when things kicked off for me and also when Duotone started to notice this young kid from Italy.

You are pretty much fully focused on the discipline “BIG AIR”, is that correct?

I’ve been passionate about big air from the very first moment. Right from my kitesurf beginnings, I’ve always watched the King of the Air and I promised myself that one day, I’ll be competing there too.

What’s your biggest motivational factor when pushing the limits of big air? You must take some pretty heavy knocks with so many hard crashes, so what is it that drives you to always go bigger, regardless of the risk and painful smashings?
My motivation comes from always wanting to be my absolute best. I get so much enjoyment from pushing my own limits and progressing. It’s the best feeling to finally stick a new trick that you’ve been working on for a while, for the very first time.

How do you train for big air? What do you do when the wind isn’t nuking? Do you do any training off the water?
I do a lot of training in the gym in order to stay in top shape and to help prevent injuries. Most days, I do both, training on the water as well as in the gym. With regards to kiting, I go no matter what, strong wind days, super light wind days, any day the wind blows I’m out there. I even go in five knots with my hydrofoil as it all helps me to improve my skills.

At what age, did you decide that you wanted to become World Champion “one day”? Or was it something you never really thought about too much?
Of course, I thought about it, but not so much. For me, my main aim is to try winning all the competitions that I participate in. That’s my main focus.

Can you please tell us about that final heat against Liam Whaley at the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air World Championships. He’s the local hero in Tarifa and knows the spot like the back of his hand. How did you feel about competing against him? What was your strategy to beat him?
My strategy to beat Liam, as well as my other opponents, was to use two different kite models: the Rebel SLS and the Dice. With the Dice, I pulled off the double loops and with the Rebel I boosted massive airs and did huge board-offs. Like that, I succeeded in showing a maximum variety of tricks, which was my ticket to beating Liam.

There were only a few minutes left in that final heat, right? It’s a very risky thing to do, to exit the water and change size. Was that a spontaneous decision?
I had it all planned out in my head that once I stuck all my tricks with the 8m2 Rebel SLS and felt confident to have scored high with my board-offs, that I then would swap over to my 6m2 Dice to send some big double loops.

And then, straight after the kite swap, you pulled the biggest manoeuvre and landed it, scoring a perfect 10. Can you please tell us what went through your head whilst launching into that crazy XXL version of the Boogie Double Loop that sealed your victory?
Although in the first three seconds of the trick I literally thought I would die, I was convinced I could pull it off. It was so mental. In the air, I just thought, I can do this and I did.

What do you think is the key or the “secret” to your success in your pro career in general (not only with regards to the world title, but to actually become a pro)?
The only secret is hard work, all day, every day and to always push your limits.

What tips would you give to young upcoming riders, who dream of a pro career?
It is the same answer as to the question before. You just have to work hard.

Where does the World Champion Andrea Principi plan to go from here? What are your next goals?
My immediate next goals are to try winning the King of the Air in South Africa and the Megaloop Challenge in the Netherlands.

Thanks so much Andrea, you can be really proud of yourself, we at Duotone certainly are and we cannot wait for more crazy action from you!