At a remarkably young age Xenia Kessler stepped back from international competition. Having had marked success in 2010/11, her future looked set with a career in professional windsurfing. Yet not all things are as they appear and for Kessler it seems as though her sights were set somewhere away from the PWA scene. Will she return? What does she make of the female freestyle scene? What would her advice be to those looking to start out? Read it all in our interview below.
Windsurfing gives me so much, so just being able to do that so much is worth more than money.
V: Xenia, you were the 4th best female Freestyler in the World in 2011, what made you stop competing on the PWA?
V: What kind of projects? Tell us a bit more about your "real" life behind the windsurfing-Xenia.
I still don’t regret my time off tour yet.
V: Did you receive good support in your windsurfing career (around 2010/2011) or how were your deals? Many people say that women receive more support by brands then men when they compete international, is this true?
I think though, if I could live from it, I would still be on tour, bringing my family with me
X: I don’t think women have better deals. We are fewer women, so for the men I guess it is more of a fight to get good sponsors. I actually think more men have better deals. I’ve had a lot of good sponsors – Mauisails, my local surfshop Surfline, Roxy/Quiksilver Denmark, Skullcandy Denmark, Reptile Masts, Choco Fins, Sorobon Beach Resort, Gaz Station, JP Australia, Neil Pryde, Unifiber, Atan, the local surfclub Aawk – they’ve all supported me at different times in my career with gear. I am super thankful for that. For me the fact that the sponsor believes in you, and feel like they want to help you reach your goals, with what they have, is super important, and a big thing for me. I’ve even had local people supporting me – a local surf guy, Svend, made his Bar sponsor half of the first freestyle board I was competing on internationally. That meant a lot to me.
V: What advice would you give to an upcoming girl who wants to compete on the international competition scene? Many national events don't start any female competitions... so the girls have to go directly to the PWA. In Germany we try to push the female riders, so we made own female heats in the German Freestyle Battles (GFB).
X: That sounds great with special female heats in the GFB! It is always easier to start when there are more girls. I remember this dilemma myself. It was quite a step from national to International. I think to start competing nationally, to get into it, you need to learn about the pressure and so on is a good start. Whenever that point comes where you feel like a bit more of a challenge you should definitely go for the world cup – at least just for the competition-training. All the girls there are friendly and want you to have a good time, and it is such a great experience competing with so many women who are as crazy about windsurfing as you are. In Denmark I was lucky that there was a girls ranking for a while, after that I went to compete with the mens ranking, first the b-class and then the a-class. That was challenging too, and good training to prepare for the world tour when I was in Denmark. So to ask if you may compete with the boys or men for the training is an option too.
V: How is the female windsurfing scene in Denmark?
X: I think it is actually pretty good. I think it has grown! It’s super cool! At the competitions we can mostly get a small girls class, otherwise there will probably be some girls mixed into the mens list. Danish girl Sara Sommer is a good friend of mine and new to the world tour and I'm sure she will perform well over the years! Outside of the competitions I also think there is quite some Danish girls ripping. Every summer there are girls windsurfing camps, and it is always possible to gather quite a big group of ladies.
X: …uh… I am not actually sure yet. There is so many things I wanna do. Windsurf will always be part of my plans and everyday life. I don’t know if I am going back on the Freestyle PWA World Tour yet. Time will tell…