Kitesurfing - school trip to Cape Verde - sports
Susanne Schwarztrauber surprised as a newcomer to the elite - but the search for sponsors makes their career planning difficult.
Vigorous gusts on the beach have robbed so many vacationers the last nerve. For kitesurfers, however, the fun does not begin until wind god Aeolus thinks well and blows plenty of wind. At kitesurfing World Cup in Tarifa, Spain, he stayed away. "With so little wind, unfortunately, I did not have a chance to show my best tricks - I did not really get out of the water with my 12 square meter kite," says Susanne Schwarztrauber. The 30-year-old from Bad Abbach is this year's only German kitesurfer, who plans to compete in all World Cups of the so-called GKA Kite World Tour.
In Tarifa ultimately only one round could take place, Schwarztrauber missed the jump into the semi-finals and just had to settle for fifth place. However, she did not find frustration with her. "That's okay, it's just a natural sport, so you always have to expect it to work that way."
Apart from the heavily weather-impaired World Cup in Spain, Schwarztrauber is doing extremely well this year. At the age of 30, she is a career changer and the World Cup in Cape Verde in February was her first professional competition in kite surfing ever - despite being on the board for 13 years as often as possible: "On Lake Garda I have kites for the first time Seen in the water and was fascinated from the beginning, after my graduation I moved directly to the North Sea and went there for the first time my passion. "
But as "Bavarian Kindl", the longing for the homeland was soon too great, so that Schwarztrauber decided to move back to the south and study pharmacy in Austria. "I've tried to get away from the water a bit and turn the desire for water into the desire for snow," she says. "That did not help, I've sometimes suffered from not being by the sea." That's why the diploma thesis went on to the Netherlands, more precisely to Amsterdam. There, she wanted to research for funds against the pair of larches, a parasite spread mainly in Africa. But at some point, the urge to kite was just too big: "Since the show's launch four years ago, my dream was to be part of the World Tour, so after graduation I overcame myself and made the dream a reality."
How much talent she has proved Schwarztrauber then also directly at the second stop in June on Sylt: As a newcomer, she managed the leap to the podium, by the third place, she pushed in the overall standings even in fourth place. "It blew me away and I had tears of joy in my eyes when I got to the beach and was told I was third," she says. Schwarztrauber does not feel any pressure, the fun is in the foreground: "That is also because I have - in contrast to many other participants here - a relatively reasonable plan B." Most of the field earns kiting outside the World Tour, either as the owner of a kite surfing school or just as a surf instructor. But no matter how, all those who are there, says Schwarztrauber, get along great. "Sure: When it comes to who is at the top of the podium at the top, it's already in the water around, but once the competition is over, you hit, hugs and drinks a beer in the evening."
That too is one reason why, following the successes of recent weeks, Schwarztrauber has decided to take the other stations this year as well. "It feels like a school trip, except that the class does not come from Bad Abbach, but from all over the world," says the Niederbayerin. As with a school trip, the trips to the locations must of course be financed out of pocket, the organizer does not pay any expenses. It can be difficult without sponsors. Schwarztrauber is currently living from her savings, has spent the night in a caravan in a field during the World Cup in Tarifa. "This is sometimes frustrating, so far hardly any sponsors have reported," she says. "For many, the risk of investing in a trend sport is too great, even though our sport looks spectacular."
Only the top three kiters could live off the sport, and ironically, these are the Cape Verde men who invented this discipline, the Strapless Freestyle. Compared to normal kite surfing, the surfers are standing on a kind of surfboard without a mount. In the appropriate wind and waves, the athletes are then catapulted over six meters into the air and try to impress the judges with virtuoso tricks.
In Paris in 2024, kiteboarding will be part of the Olympic program for the first time - but only in a discipline where speed on shallow waters is important. "I doubt that I can retrain and reach Olympic level within five years," says Schwarztrauber. She does not believe that Strapless Freestyle will be recorded soon. But their sport depends on too many natural factors: "In contrast to other water sports, we are not only dependent on the right wind, but also on the right waves." This is already causing many organizers headaches. "
Four more World Cups will take place this year: In September the kite surfers will travel to Mauritius, then to Morocco and finally to Brazil for two stops. Whether Susanne Schwarztrauber is there until the very end depends on her financial situation. She would like, but: "If I realize that I have to turn every penny for the tour, then the fun is lost quickly," she says. And fun is known to be the most important thing in kitesurfing.