In the first of a new monthly series, Gavin Caney shines the spotlight on kite surfer and instructor DANIELLE DURRANT
Can you remember your first experience of watersports?
I remember the first time I flew a kite and I was absolutely terrible.
It was in 2007 so I’d have been about 11 or 12 and I would just continuously crash.
My family and I started with kites on the land with the mountain boards.
We progressed to the water – that was much more fun.
What made kiteboarding, out of the options available, your passion?
I love the freedom of the sport, using the elements to travel across the ocean and fly in the air.
Starting at 11 years old, I was very young and excited. I chose to do my work experience at the local kite school, Hunstanton Watersports.
I would see all these beautiful locations in the magazines and I wanted to be that person who visited them.
I chose to become an instructor so I could experience these places while giving my love of the sport to others so they could experience it themselves.
What support did you have locally to learn and progress?
The largest amount of support came from my parents and my sister Chloe.
We would always spend the weekends family kiting together and travelling around the UK for competitions, which I started doing from 2010.
Hunstanton Watersports helped us get on to the water with equipment and coaching tips. School and then college would give me the time to train and go to events too.
Everyone was very positive and encouraging, which was a huge help.
When, and why, did kite surfing go from a hobby to a possible career and way of life?
I always wanted to travel the world as I’ve never been one to sit still.
It all really happened when the time came to chose which university I wanted to go to and continue with my studies… but I declined them all!
I had already been instructing for a summer at home and I thought; ‘Why not instruct for even more summers but somewhere else in the world?’
That was 2013 and after my first six months away in New Zealand I was addicted to the lifestyle.
It’s what I’ve been doing ever since and what I’m still doing right now in Australia.
How would you sell your sport to someone who wondered whether it was worth trying?
If you’re looking to have a taste of something that’s so much fun and exhilarating, while experiencing a time where you can think of absolutely nothing, kite surfing is for you.
It is such a versatile sport for any age, level and ability. Anyone can do it.
How did the opportunity to be helped financially come about and how did it make you feel?
I wouldn’t class myself as a professional just yet as I have only ever competed at national level. However, being able to have the support of my sponsors over the years and now (Axis Kiteboarding, Sungod and ION) is really amazing.
To me it feels rewarding and motivational to keep being the best I can be.
Has the ability to travel the world added an extra enjoyment level to your career?
I love how there is a new door open everywhere.
Being able to experience the different cultures, countries and meet people of different nationalities – and instruct some people that don’t even speak English – teaches you things you cannot learn in a classroom.
What problems do you have to overcome to try to earn a living from kiteboarding and instructing?
Relying on being purely a kite instructor for your main source of income is extremely difficult.
Mother Nature is inconsistent and it isn’t always windy or warm.
There are days or weeks of no wind, so you have to have a lot of patience.
I’m one of the many that will juggle two jobs to make it work, which can be quite tiring and stressful at times.
Teaching must provide a different buzz to competing – tell us a little bit about that.
Yes, it really does!
I’ve always said that if I’ve ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning, after a day of teaching I become the happiest person on the planet.
It’s amazing to see my students progress throughout their lessons and the moment they get up on the board, their reaction is priceless.
It reminds me of my first time and the early days when I was learning in West Norfolk.
Finally, what does 2019 and the future hold for Danielle Durrant?
I’m really excited for what the rest of this year holds.
I’m currently injury free and almost there with my personal training qualification.
I have been in Australia for the last three years, travelling and instructing, although I’m now based in Melbourne, studying to be a personal trainer and working as a gym instructor at F45.
I’ll continue to work in the gym, as well as instructing for now.
But I hope to travel again very soon, where I can incorporate my kite instructing as well as my personal training.
So 2019 is going to be a lot of planning for my future career.
The facts are…
Name: Danielle Durrant
Date of birth: 3/4/1995
Birth place: King’s Lynn
Grew up in: Docking
Secondary school: Smithdon
Higher education: College of West Anglia (COWA) and Australian College of Sport & Fitness
Selected honours: NKL Australia (2nd), 2015 BKC Professional Ladies (2nd), 2014 OZONE Kite Boarding New Zealand Nationals Ladies (1st), COWA Sportswoman of year (2012 and 2013)
- Danni competed in her first kitesurfing competition, despite only being able to perform one trick
- In her down time, she enjoys going to the gym, playing guitar and meeting friends
- During the 10-hour days teaching back-to-back kite lessons with no break, the
23-year-old hides food to eat in her wetsuit
- Danni spent one whole year injured. Her dreadful luck included being hit by a car, burning herself and getting a third-degree burn from an infection
- Danni really struggles to leave the beach and loves to watch the sunset before doing anything else
Restaurant or takeaway?
Night in or night out?
Bath or shower?
Tea or coffee?
Sweet or savoury?
Summer or winter?
Day or night?
Cinema or theatre?
Favourite food: Ice cream
Least favourite: Olives
Favourite TV programme: David Attenborough’s documentaries
Least favourite: Anything scary
Favourite band/musician: Jack Johnson
Least favourite: Rihanna
Favourite film: Top Gun
Least favourite: Black Mirror (Bandersnatch)
Answers are in italics