As record-breaking kitesurfer Anke Brandt prepares for her latest challenge – a world record kitesurf from Bahrain to Dubai – WTM caught up with the athlete to find out what motivates her and more.
WTM: How did you get involved in kitesurfing?
AB: I saw a kitesurfer in New Zealand in 2007 and instantly liked the idea of it, as I sailed since I was 10 years old.
In 2009 I finally took a course and learned to kitesurf. But it was only in 2010, when I moved to Bahrain, that I learned to properly ride and jump. So you can definitely say I learned and fell in love with kitesurfing in Bahrain.
You have previously set a record by surfing around the island, how much preparation did it take and how hard was it?
As I kitesurf as much as possible, I always have a good level of fitness. Three months before the attempt, I focused on a training and food plan, this involved exercising five times a week and was a mix of weight training, cardio, yoga and, of course, kitesurfing.
I enjoy being fit and was always very involved in sports activities so it was fun but it is not always easy to fit in all the exercise with a full workday and social activities. You have to set your priorities to succeed, for sure. To be able to do this is great to train with friends.
Were there any points at which you wanted to give up and, if so, what kept you going?
Whatever you do I think there will be always a point when you think you can’t go further and want to give up.
In these moments it is very important that you have close friends and family who support you and who you can talk to. This helped me always to get back on track and helped me to regain trust in what I am doing.
You now plan to kite surf from Bahrain to Dubai. What made you decide on this challenge?
The idea of Kitesurf Arabia came from a sailing competition. This made me want to go the distance by kite as it’s proof that the wind can carry you along all the way from Bahrain to Dubai. This is my dream.
It is a difficult task to go all the way as we need a boat that can go the entire distance to the UAE, but it will be hopefully a record-breaking mission.
I have been kitesurfing many times in the UAE and participated in one of my first competitions there, achieving my first podiums, so I do feel a connection to the UAE next to Bahrain.
Is it a dangerous thing to undertake and what is the distance?
It is a mission you have to prepare for. It has risk factors, which can be managed well in advance with appropriate risk management. The wind and weather, for example, can be a challenge and always remain a factor of uncertainty. Even if the weather and wind look steady and good to go, you can pass through areas where the unexpected can happen. Last time the wind picked up without any warning and within minutes I got pulled downwind towards Qatar. The team must react fast in these situations.
Also, possible night kiting is a big challenge as it will be very hard to see where you are going and to read the wind and the waves. If the water is smooth and the waves are more or less regular, it should be OK, but you never know.
The distance is expected to be around 600km and a lot can happen on the way.
Will it be another world record?
Yes, we are aiming to break the current record we set in 2014 by circumnavigating Bahrain.
How are you training and preparing for the journey?
I have been training since January. This is a mix of weight training in the gym, yoga to keep me flexible and, of course, kitesurfing. I have been in South Africa lately to kick off particularly the kite training and kick off an intensive six-days-a-week training plan until the day of the departure.
How long do you expect it to take?
We expect the journey to take 14 to 18 hours from start to finish, depending on the wind and routing we have to take.
How will you be supported on the journey?
We are currently searching for the right support boat to follow me all the way. This is the biggest obstacle to overcome right now as we need a boat that can keep up with the speed in the open water and can carry enough fuel to go all the way. In addition it must be able to approach the land at any given time in case of emergency and, best case, have an additional small safety boat.
On the boat will be a camera team, a doctor and a team that can support with the kite and board if needed.
If you manage to complete this journey, what’s next?
I’m not sure what will be next. I am sure this will not be my last kite mission as it is a lot of fun. But it takes preparation and is also very costly and it is always a challenge to find the funds to pay the bills for all the safety and preparation necessary.
As soon as there is something set in stone, your readers will be the first to know!
Anything else you would like to add?
We are doing this mission for Wings for Life spinal cord injury charity and are collecting donations from now onward. All the collected money will go to Wings for Life and people can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/kitesurfarabia/
We are also happy to hear from any company interested in sponsoring the mission and connecting their brand to a world record!
Mail us at Kitebeyond@gmail.com