Awe, complete awe — that was what defined our meeting with 32-year old, German kitesurfer Anke Brandt. Marketing and project manager by trade and an athlete by passion, Anke is set to conquer the world stage as the first woman to travel from Bahrain to the UAE using a kiteboard (a 24h, 550km non-stop ride!). And if we knew one thing from her that day it’s that the fastest and most beautiful way is on the waters and in the skies.
Hello! Tell us a little bit about yourself…
Hi! I am Anke a kitesurfer from Germany with a Marketing and Project Management background. I have lived in Bahrain for the past 5 years after spending some time in New Zealand.
When did kitesurfing become a part of you?
It was in 2008 when I took my first kite lesson in New Zealand. I instantly liked it but it took me another year to fully get into it. This was when I moved to Bahrain. It’s a lot easier to learn in warmer waters as you do spend some time swimming around before you are able to ride.
What else can Anke Brandt do other than kitesurf?
I am all about water, outdoor sports and activities! Since I was little, I spend many holidays on sailboats or going camping with my family. I also love hiking and camping. Last year I got my paraglider license and I am wakeboarding when there is no wind. Recently, I also tried to get into surfing. So there is always something to do for me and there many things I would like to try, such as climbing.
Can you tell us more about your mission?
The GET Kite Mission – Kitesurf Arabia was inspired by a sailing tour and a guy call Sami Al Kooheji who sailed the distance in 2007. I thought then that “…if you can go with a sailboat, it must be possible by kite.”
This will be a 550km long journey that could take me up to 24h. This means a 24h nonstop ride on the board in wind and weather from Bahrain to the UAE. With this trip I have the chance to break my own World Record of the Longest Distance Kitesurfed by a Female. The main aim however is to raise awareness and funds for a charity organisation called Wings for Life. Their mission is to find a cure for spinal cord injury.
What motivated you to take this challenge on?
The first time I went around Bahrain I just wanted to organize a charity event for Wings for Life. It was just a fun event we planned and only as we went along, it turned out that this could be a World Record.
With this trip I now want to challenge myself and support Wings for Life again.
I love going the distance on a kite and with this trip I can also really push my limits while hoping to inspire others to follow their own dreams. You can archive the things you dream about if you believe in yourself and never be shy to ask for help as well.
How are you training for the big day?
My training is a combination of weight lifting, cardio, yoga and kitesurfing. This is all balanced out on a weekly schedule with a one day break a week, if there is no wind.
It is also important to follow a food plan to have enough energy for the workouts.
In addition I go on extended kite sessions exceeding two to three hours on the water alone to get used to the feeling and I will also attend a few boat rides from Bahrain to the UAE to get to know the waters a little and to have an idea of what to expect.
What does a day in your kitesurfing life look like?
An average day in my life would be possibly to get up in the morning and go for a run or go kitesurfing if there is wind before work. The rest of the day would possibly look quite similar to that of any other person, filled with work, meetings and phone calls. I do try to break out of the routine however as much as possible and try to go kitesurfing during the day where possible. You are dependent on the wind and daylight to go out so therefore I choose to work in the evenings and enjoy the day out on the ocean if possible.
How are you encouraging more ladies to participate in kitesurfing or other outdoor activities?
Currently I am a kite instructor and try to take as many women on board as possible. I participate in female only events and am always happy to have a chat with whoever has questions. I try to live by example and hope I can inspire other girls to pick up a sport or activity they have been dreaming about doing.
Your advice for those who are getting started?
My main advice is to find a group, a club or a friend to get started with. This will help you to stay motivated. Don’t get discouraged if it takes you a while to get the hang of things. Enjoy the way of getting to know a new sport and celebrate the small steps you take. The main thing is that you have fun with what you do!
What is the defining moment of your career?
I don’t see any moment as particularly defining. Every day is special and I believe everything happens for a reason. Therefore every moment counts, is important and plays a role.
Last question: Do you have a mantra you tell yourself before going off in the wind? Would you like to tell us?
I don’t really have a mantra but what I do is listen to myself before getting ready and I always ask myself “Am I ready to go with the wind?”
You can’t go against the wind and you can’t control it, so you must be prepared to go with the wind and enjoy it. You must be alert at all times as the wind is never constant. If I don’t feel good, I choose not to go out at times as lack of concentration can easily lead to incidents and injuries.
Interview by: Keith Perena
Photos supplied by: Anke Brandt