Let’s go fly a kite

Holly Kennedy

Kitesurfing

Let me introduce myself – I am Holly Kennedy, I study Geography and Geology at Glasgow University, and I’m also a Professional Kitesurfer.

I’ve always pushed myself to excel in the areas that I enjoy most and managed to achieve early success as the Scottish Gymnastics champion and senior school athletics. However, the more extreme sports were already part of my family background – both my dad and my brother were seriously into big wave windsurfing, and I enjoyed the exhilarating challenge of kitesurfing.

My brother encouraged me to start by offering me a few lessons, and after that I was hooked! Following my competitive head, I started to compete as an amateur in the British Kitesurfing Championship Series and managed to gain second place overall for that year. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, as well as travelling all over the UK and meeting other kiting enthusiasts, and I began to see my skills developing in the sport. I made the decision to start training to become a professional.

Firstly, I received sponsorship from a watersports retailer, giving me discounts on all equipment. With my new kit, I travelled to Langebaan in South Africa for three months to improve and learn new freestyle tricks. Within the last three years alone, I have been lucky enough to visit some of the most remote and beautiful surfing destinations, experiencing different cultures and competing in the British, European and World Freestyle Kitesurfing Tours. Alongside serious training, I have also been able to successfully pass my first year at university. What a life!

Highlights in my career so far have been getting second place in a World Championship Freestyle event in New Caledonia. With sheer determination, self-belief and positive thinking, I managed to make my way up from the bottom of the competition ladder, winning ten heats to make it into the final. It was definitely overwhelming, and as the surfers would say, I was ‘stoked’.

I also hold the women’s world record for the highest kitesurf jump, set in the 2010 World Cup staged in Fuertaventura. I made a massive 8.9 metres – equal to about two double decker buses stacked on top of one another. I am ranked sixth in the world for Freestyle and second in the UK.

Thinking into the future, I’m happy to continue studying alongside kitesurfing to ensure I keep my brain in working order, and I am thankful that the Glasgow University Sports Association has helped me to do so. GUSA gave me free gym membership so I can train on days unsuitable for kitesurfing, as well as supporting me in events.

This year, I have been voted to take on the role of Windsurf Captain within Glasgow University Surf Club. Although kitesurfing is my main sport, I’ve also windsurfed for some years, and hope to encourage more people to try out this fantastic sport. I hope with that with my background, my personality and with a big smile, I can push the sport in the right way and get so many more people involved.