What I love the most about Kitesurfing are the jumps. When you’re riding, you feel the waves on your knees. You can feel and hear the wind. As soon as you kick off a wave and start to fly, it all suddenly stops. No shocks anymore, no wind in the ears … it looks like the elements are in pause. It feels like you are disconnected from reality. And gosh, I love that feeling.
My name is Loïc Poisot, and I’m the CEO of Customs Bridge – I am a passionate guy trying to get the most out of his passage on earth.
I currently live in Lille, France, but I’ve travelled a lot – I’ve lived in the Alps, France, Switzerland (where I come from), and also in Barcelona. I never thought I would live in Lille (known in France as the Capital of the Rain). I came here because I was contacted to join a start-up studio – this opportunity was perfectly in line with my expectations. The bonus, I was just 1 hour away from the channel, perfect for kitesurfing.
I first became interested in Kitesurfing when I learned that some of my colleagues in Geneva were doing it. Indeed, it’s not quite a common sport there, as windy conditions are rare. But by hearing them talking about the sport and the sensations they felt, I was motivated to try – in December 2016, I booked a flight to Sri Lanka and did a 10-day visit, which was 10 days of kitesurfing.
I like watching some of Kevin Langeree’s KEVLOG videos from time to time, but I’m not really into following other kitesurfers. I believe when it comes to sport, especially individual ones, it’s an adventure with yourself only. As for kitesurfing, it’s with the elements as well. You often find people with better skills on the spot, and I love the spirit between good-level riders: you congratulate other riders when they land nice tricks; you want to go higher, stronger, to show them what you got. So, I would say my inspirations are all the other riders.
I mostly ride Twintip. My gear is somewhat random: I’ve got Gong, Slingshot, F-one, all inflatable kites (even though I might buy a flysurfer peak as soon as I do ski touring. The peak is perfect for an unexpected snowkite session while ski-touring). I also recently bought a foil and a surf shortboard to play with the waves.
I am also a kitesurfing teacher, which began due to changes in my professional career. I was a computer scientist for a few years, but after working on several big banking projects, I was really fed up and unhappy, despite having good pay. This is the reason I quit my job without any Plan B.
This marked the beginning of an introspection: some people may call it the ‘aged 30s or 40s crisis’ – well, mine happened at age 27. I was a kitesurfer for a bit more than one year when someone shared with me an opportunity to become a kitesurfing teacher. I thought that might be what I need. Instead of spending my days in front of a computer, I’d rather spend my life on the beach, teaching, meeting new people, and practising my passion (even though I thought that I might not be experienced enough to teach the sport, knowing that I only began 1.5 years earlier).
It turns out that I was right – I had the lower level of the kitesurf teacher trainees, but I demonstrated good progression and good logic. I taught for quite some time in Cabo Verde, riding with the greats like Mitu and Airton Cozzolino.
At the end of this period, I knew I could not do this all my life, and I re-discovered what made me choose computer sciences in the first place and that I missed so much while teaching: Creativity. Not all jobs in IT allow you to be creative, but if you have one, you can spend your whole day creating (creating virtual things, definitely, but it is still creation).
And what’s the best way to be certain your boss doesn’t send you on non-creative projects? It is to be your own boss!
There are many things that I love about kitesurfing. As the CEO of my company, its challenges and plans are always on my mind – there are so present that one day, I drove 30 minutes in the wrong direction before noticing because I was so busy thinking.
So for kitesurfing moments out of time — when you fly, when you rotate, when you know that a small mistake in bar control can lead you to a crash — I cherish these moments of real disconnection more than anything.
I also love riding in strong conditions, where you have no choice but to be 100% focused on the elements, the waves coming in, the wind, and the rocks.
What I also love about kitesurfing is that it is similar to life. You can totally stop learning and progressing when you know how to ride in both directions, but if you want to progress, you need to take risks and go out of your comfort zone. In addition, there are so many disciplines: big air, freestyle, unhooked, waves, foil, etc. As in life, sometimes we’re in the mood for partying, for exploring, for loneliness, for playing. In kitesurfing, there is always a discipline for any mood you might have.
Ultimately, progression is limitless in kitesurfing – by combining tricks and disciplines, you come to thousands of possibilities.
I have many favourite kitesurfing spots. Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka is my favourite because this is where I learned to kitesurf, and the spot is perfect for progressing. It is one of the best lagoons I’ve seen, even better than Dakhla in my opinion. The other two best spots are Fuerteventura (I still have to try other Canarias Islands) and Cabo Verde; I love these places because of the island spirit, good wind, and good food. My two best sessions happened in these places – one of my most memorable kitesurfing experiences was an epic one in Fuerteventura, where I was jumping on the first wave and landing on the 3rd or 4th.
Another memorable moment is when I was riding with Nico (who taught with me in Cabo Verde). We had rented a pickup and were going to every place we wanted, but not the crowded spots. At some point, we found a small beach with nobody around. It was a bit downwind of a mountain, but we still decided to go. Nico crashed his kite while doing a trick and had difficulty relaunching it. His kite was 10 metres away from rocks that would have torn it to pieces, undoubtedly. I could hear him yelling “putaiiiiiiin”, and even though it was not funny, I started to laugh like crazy because I knew he was in deep trouble (himself not in danger at all). And I knew he had zero patience, so it was even harder to re-launch in low wind. He finally succeeded in re-launching his kite 1 metre away from the rocks. We switched spots just after that.
I laughed at him, but the same thing happened to me in Australia, and I was also able to relaunch in-extremis. With kitesurfing, it’s like that – there are days you will feel that you’re a god and can land anything; and some days, you just crash into everything. Never believe that you’re safe.
My advice to anyone interested in Kitesurfing is to take lessons, and then work on steering, steering, steering. As a teacher, I have seen many people eager to ride. The issue is that you have the kite to manage, the board, your body in the water, the other riders on the spot, the wind, and maybe some waves.
The most important thing above all is the kite. If you crash your kite or control it badly, you might collide with someone else, you will probably lose your board, and your kite might be caught by a wave. The critical moment is when you enter the water with your board for the first time. If you lose control, let the board go and keep your kite in the air. Furthermore, it is essential that you are efficient in body-dragging, as it allows you to get your board back in no time. Finally, never try this sport alone.
I think that kitesurfing has definitely been a benefit to my technological career. Mainly, it taught me to be focused. When I’m working on a complex algorithmic problem, I now have the ability to put on my headphones and disconnect completely from the sources of perturbation around me. Vice versa, as an IT scientist, I often had complex issues to solve, spending days on it, not finding the solution. Despite failing, I attempt it again and again until I finally succeed. It’s the same in kitesurfing: before being able to land a trick 80% of the time, I had to go through 100 crashes. I learned to never give up. To succeed, you must first fail.
Finally, there is always more than tech. The thing with tech is virtuality – most of the people in tech work with computers in cities; it’s probably one of the worst jobs in terms of connection with nature. I believe every human being needs this connection, and it’s great to read about how people in this sector use sports to reconnect.