Devotion in Dakhla Photo: Svetlana Romantsova / GKA Kite World Tour

THE CURRENT GKA KITE-SURF WOMENS’ WORLD CHAMPION, PERI ROBERTS, HAD NO EASY ROAD TO THE TITLE

WORDS – Peri Roberts

During a Zoom meeting with my performance coach just before I left to compete at the final world tour event in Dakhla, Morocco, we were discussing lots of topics, from energy levels and distribution to heat strategy and turn selections. I told him I was nervous. There was a lot on the line for me and I didn’t want to get so far and have a World Championship opportunity slip through my fingers right at the end of the campaign. I guess that’s what made it so exciting; I had led the rankings for the majority of the year and all the build up could come down to a single moment. My coach told me to create a theme around the competition; something I could go back to when feeling uncertain, to boost morale about what was to come. A theme that not only built on the whole concept of a world title race, but was the underlying reason that I was in a world title race in the first place. I took a minute to ponder, flying back over the year in my mind, from start to finish; each session, competition and flight, considering what this world title race meant to me. “Hustle” I told him. That’s the theme. Without any further cue the words just poured from the heart as I explained what I meant. It’s a tribute to everything I’ve gone through this year. The good, the bad… every second of effort and each breath of air I’ve put into making it happen. Perseverance, determination and motivation. The hustle is all the moments fused into one that makes a dream come alive.

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Grinding out results in Germany Photo: Lukas Stiller / GKA Kite World Tour

KITESURFING TOOK OVER MY LIFE

When I started kitesurfing, I fell in love with the feeling of freedom and how I simply felt so alive when doing it. The adrenaline, the speed and the height. I was even intoxicated by every little element, right down to the salty air in my face and the water that fizzed against my ankles. When I caught my first wave I instantly realised that I was totally in love with the sport. It quickly became a dream to do it for the rest of my (capable) life. My competitive nature began nagging at me to get better, to become good and, eventually, hopefully the best. I put my heart and soul into each wave. Countless hours of beating on my craft. When I told my coach Hustle was the theme, it wasn’t just about the kitesurfing. It was every piece of effort I put into making this world title come to fruition. This year was the most challenging year of my life. As I write these words down, I’m astonished I made it work. I’m proud because I didn’t give up, nor took no for an answer.

Winner’s smile Photo: Svetlana Romantsova / GKA Kite World Tour

My world title race started when I moved halfway around the world and didn’t return home for a year. No family, no friends, no house and very little money in the bank account. My being part of a world title race was through working three jobs in a foreign country that I wasn’t even allowed to work in to begin with. It was 17-hour long days for six weeks straight, just to make ends meet. It was couch surfing for nine months and sometimes even skipping meals to save little bits of cash.

My world title race was selling my car in Australia to scrape more funds together to be able to compete. It was loneliness and home sickness. It was patience and trusting myself to trust the process. It was believing in me; it was the internal push to keep going. This world title race was the ultimate hustle: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. To finally be able to say the little girl that had a dream to become a professional kitesurfer was crowned a World Champion; the hustle made the top so much sweeter.

Surf siren, Maui Photo: Amanda Beenen Cantor

THE PAY-OFF

Theme decided, I dived into the final competition with my head held high. I realised that a win was just a result, but the real feat was victory within myself which helped settle my nerves. My vision was clear; feel – attack - hustle. Investing time in my mind by increasing my ability to focus, visualising what I wanted to do and detaching from my emotions was the ultimate tool IN winning my world title. It’s crazy to go through something physically after playing it through your head for so long each time you close your eyes. The power I gave my mind was undoubtably the reason I got to wave that Australian flag at the end of that competition, and I believe is a testament to the belief, ‘If you can see it, you can do it.”. You must hustle throughout all aspects in life; be it work, the gym or your dreams. Chase, feel, attack and hustle in every moment and you will reap the rewards.

Putting in the hours in Maui, home of Peri’s gear sponsors, Naish Photo: Miriam Joanna