My very first steps kitesurfing
I started Kitesurfing just by chance when my friend Previne invited me to join a ‘kitesurfing camp’. It was the 1st in Kalpitiya. I saved money, attended the camp. I couldn’t quite afford lessons, so once I came back to Colombo I managed to get some money, buy a kite and be taught the sport by Mischi Walter.
The sport took over my life, I gave up playing competitive sports – Rugby, Hockey was out, Kitesurfing was in! Every weekend I took a bus – 8 hours to Kalpitiya amidst bomb scares and checkpoints. This was in 2008 and the civil war was still on.
I remember being arrested for kitesurfing in restricted areas, I remember being chased by a Navy Gun Boat for having strayed onto the high-security zones in Colombo. I remember how crazy we were wanting to be the first to kitesurf in all of Sri Lanka in all the different locations. We felt like explorers, adventurers.
At work, Monday to Friday, I dreamt of kiting. My bosses were quite cool giving me a chance to kite during ‘office hours’ on the condition I get the work done later on. The stars seem to align to support my passion. I started blogging, got into magazines, TV, billboards.
The beginning of KSL
Leo and I met randomly through my blog Kitesurfing Sri Lanka. We did some trips, we became friends. Around 3 years later, we randomly chatted on google and decided let’s take the plunge and start a business. I got a break from my corporate life, and with the savings we rented a hotel. Year 1 started with 15 persons in rented premises. We have our Series 1 Land Rover as the support vehicle – I remember we snapped the chassis carrying too much weight on it!
We cleaned, cooked and did all. Fast forward Leo and I have Kitesurfing Lanka in Kalpitiya and Vayu Mannar – which incidentally was the very place I kited for the first time in 2009. We directly employ around 60 persons and impact 2 communities. Today the World Number 3 Paula Novotna is staying in our camp, along with Red Bull King of the Air Champ Aurélien Pétreau and the 8 time World Snow Kite Champ Guillaume Chastagnol!
Supporting the community
Just yesterday, I read a post from the President of the Local Fishing Community, Sugath; he thanked us for the support – we made a conscious decision from year 1 to outsource services to the village – so they can earn a living through support services to our business. To this day, KSL does not own a truck, van or boat – all these are provided by the village.
I wonder how we did it, no money, help just from family and friends and we created something huge. I am truly grateful to serve and make a difference through this sport and business. I hope you will be part of our story.