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TheKiteMag Feature Andrea Principi Namibia Duotone 5 copy 1200x800 - Adrenaline Fix

Adrenaline Fix

Andrea Principi is at the forefront of the evolution of Big Air tricks, and in June won the GKA Big Air Kite World Championships for the second year running. He puts his success down to a love of adrenaline, and a recent trip to windy Namibia with fellow GOAT nominees Aaron Hadlow and Liam Whaley also helped, as the boys all egged each other on to go bigger and better…

PHOTOS: Craig Kolesky
TheKiteMag Feature Andrea Principi Namibia Duotone 16 - Adrenaline Fix

I started kiting thanks to my parents who have a kite school where I live in Tuscany, Italy. When I was little I saw them jumping and I wanted to do the same thing. When I was 11 years old, my mother finally allowed me to try the board. She is also very good at kiting, and does kiteloops, board-offs and huge jumps. I fell in love with the sport from the first second I got a kite in my hand. It was truly a wonderful sensation and I realized that I had found my sport. Before that I had done many sports, the main ones I did for many years were skiing and rugby. I also did two years of acrobatic gymnastics. I’m a person who likes adrenaline – if you had to do something like jump out of a plane with a parachute I’d be the first at the door!

So it was natural that I got into Big Air. I started doing it because I grew up watching Big Air competitions like the Red Bull King of the Air. In my mind that is the whole point of kiting – to fly as high as possible. I believe that freestyle can also be done behind a boat or at a cable park, but it is only with a kite that you can fly. Then, getting into kite competitions was inevitable for me. Since I was little I’ve always played sports in a competitive way, both skiing and rugby plus other sports, so I can’t really do a sport without competing in it. I love the adrenaline I get when I compete. Doing ski racing helped me to grow a lot because I had to deal with a lot of pressure, and over time I learned to manage and control it, transforming it into an extra push to win. That experience helped me with the kite competitions.

Growing up watching the KOTA competitions, it was a dream to take part myself, so I was super excited to head to Cape Town last winter to compete in the prestigious event. I’d already been to Cape Town a few times, I think it is one of my favorite spots. I love the huge waves that kick you up and make you fly to the moon. The event wasn’t easy for me at all as I had a rib injury and I was really stressed out; I couldn’t sleep beforehand. I gave it my everything but honestly I had no expectations for the competition because of my rib. But in the end my effort paid off and I was super stoked to finish in third position. And maybe the adrenaline helped too. After that I stayed on in Cape Town but it became very busy with too many kites, so it was not really possible to train properly.

So when Duotone said we were doing a trip to Namibia I was so excited. The trip was a fantastic adventure from beginning to end and it was really good to escape from Cape Town for a bit! The landscape was incredible with infinite deserts and very strange animals that I had never seen. On our way to Namibia we stopped for the night at a village on the border with South Africa, on the huge Orange river that divides the two countries. It was really beautiful to see. Then we headed to Lüderitz where we stayed in a hotel near the sea, Lüderitz is a small and unique city – it looks like a city from 80s films with no car traffic or people shouting, but is really quiet. I really liked this a lot as sometimes it is nice to get away from technology and just be in nature.

After a long journey of 13 hours in the car we had discovered a kitesurfing paradise: flat water and 30 to 35 knots every day. One day we even had wind speeds of 55 to 60 knots! It was really extreme to go out in those conditions alone and with offshore wind. It was also a great opportunity to try out the new Evo D/LAB – I was really impressed with this kite which has impressive lift and hangtime. Even better was sharing this trip with Aaron, Liam, the photographer Craig and all the videographers. They were all amazing people to share a wild trip like this with. With Liam and Aaron we all learned something from each other, gave each other advice about the tricks, and pushed each other to improve. The trip also paid off a lot because it helped me prepare for the GKA Big Air event in Tarifa – I was able to train new tricks without anyone seeing them and then show them for the first time in the competition. I was very happy because it was not an easy goal to win the World Championship for the second time, so thank you to Namibia for contributing to my success.

Now I am focusing on the upcoming King of the Air in Cape Town later this year. And once that is over I sincerely hope to return to Namibia. It is an awesome place for anyone looking for an extreme adventure…


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