Spindrifter Series :: Jessica Gent
↠ T H E S P I N D R I F T E R S E R I E S ↠
Very excited to introduce you to our latest incredible Spindrifter, Jessica Gent. Jessica is one of my amazing friends who I met windsurfing many years ago and who is such an inspiration.
Jessica is a Specialist Physiotherapist living on the south coast of England with her hubby Neal and furbaby Cookie the bengal cat. She works to play and spends most of her time either in the ocean wave kiting, foil kiting, windsurfing, paddle boarding, surfing or in the yoga studio generally upside down! She lives in West Sussex where there is a great community of water sports lovers but also runs @kitegirlsuk on Instagram to connect and promote girls kitesurfing in the UK and British girls abroad. Jessica is a Team local rider for Mysticboarding and rides custom UK brand JPsurfboards & Ozone Kites. Her second home is the beautiful island of Barbados where she feels pretty privileged to spend 4-6 weeks a year perusing her love of the ocean in turquoise waters with the Bajan turtles and a great community of kite guys and gals.
Lets jump in and ask her some questions…
↠ How did you come to be a ocean loving kitesurfer & yogi?
My love for the ocean came later in life. I grew up in landlocked Wiltshire and only started to windsurf in 2006 on a holiday to Club Vass in Greece. I was living in London at the time and was happily living a city girl lifestyle, but by 2008 I was whizzing down the A3 in my mini on even half days to get to the Witterings in West Sussex to get out on the sea. I decided it was time to trade an admittedly awesome work life for ocean filled days in Chichester where I had made lifelong friends through the sport, (including Tasha from Spindrift!). My love for windsurfing turned in learning to kitesurf, paddleboard and surf and over the years has developed into a way of life for me, not just a hobby, and also was the reason for meeting my husband Neal. I have only really dedicated myself to yoga in the last 2 years but it has got me through some tough times and keeps me stronger, fitter and more focussed in those times where there is no water action to be had. It has given me a way to relax and reflect more about life but also complements the physical and mental requirements for pushing my watersports forwards
↠ What’s your big vision // dream for the next few years?
To travel to new places with kitesurfing and continue to improve my wave riding skills as well as kite foiling ability – Mauritius, New Zealand and Fiji are on the cards and we hope to take a ‘grown ups’ sabbatical in the next few years.
↠ We know you spend alot of time each year in Barbados. Tell us what typical day looks like there?
5.30am wake up (time difference rather than dedication!) with three hours kiting in a bikini on turquoise waters, dodging turtles with just me and the hubby out before the rest of the sleepy village wakes. Then usually breakfast overlooking silver rock beach and time to catch up with the water community out there including the Kite Sirens – a group of women who have turned kiting into a full time lifestyle choice. We will usually then hide from the sun or head off round the island to hunt surf, free dive or go bikini shopping to return later for more kiting and sunset sessions with friends before heading off to replenish calories with fried chicken, fresh fish and of course rum!!!
↠ When you’re not busy traveling & kiting, where can we find you?
Working as a lower limb specialist physiotherapist in Portsmouth for the NHS. It pays the bills but is also a rewarding job. I have the flexibility of working part time and also teach courses nationally on advanced practice and at universities as a guest lecturer. Outside of work, yoga, water time you will probably find me playing with my furbaby cookie who is a bengal cat!
↠ What has been your most important & defining moment so far?
In kiting – winning the wave master’s nationals last year as it was my first ever real competition experience and took me till 38 to give it a go!! In life – My wedding day!! I am at heart an independent soul but confirming and celebrating a partnership with my soul mate surrounded by my family and friends just blew me away!
↠ Tell us about your personal connection to our wild and beautiful natural landscapes + what do you do to minimise your impact on them?
The feeling of being powered by the wind or the waves is an almost spiritual experience. Not in terms of a diety as such but in that I literally thank my blessings for being out there and the beauty of it all nearly every time I get out on the water. I try to be respectful of nature by leaving with everything I take to the beach and by always donating or passing on my used watersports gear rather than throwing anything out.
↠ What two key things have you learnt in your watersports/yogi path which continue to push you forward?
Determination – I do not have a natural talent for sports and certainly didn’t grow up with them but you can make up for that with putting the hours in and not being deterred from what you want to achieve, however scary or impossible it may seem
The value of support – I am privileged to be surrounded by a husband, friends and a community who are amazingly supportive and inspiring on and off the water. I have spent a long time looking for that and feel that I have truly found a home by pursuing hobbies and travel initially alone that bought me to this point.
↠ Who/what do you look to for inspiration? // Who/what makes your heart light up?
My inspirations: my Mum, (always there for me through thick and thin and a lesson in how to deal with adversity with a smile on your face and love in your heart), My husband ( a true waterman in all senses of the word and a man who is always thoughtful in his actions but will push me with my own boundaries!), my girlfriends (photographers, business owners, kick-arse water babies, yogi-inspiring, amazing mothers is a woefully short list of those that have shared both laughter and tears with me over the recent years)
My heart lights up at: my morning coffee, wind guru (wind prediction website) going red and swell forecast rising, cookie mewing and chatting at me, my nieces, nephews and godchild smiling or laughing with me.
↠ What is your favourite quote and why does it particularly resonate with you?
“Smell the sea, and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly” – this feels like it describes exactly what I need to do at any moment where life is not all roses and challenges come my way!
↠ What’s next on your horizon? // What can we expect to see?
SUP and and wake foiling, acroyoga and handstand pressing are my challenges to start on before I turn 40 next year!!
↠ What advice would you have for someone who wants to get into kitesurfing?
Take lessons and get advice on where and who is good – a week away somewhere warm can inspire you to continue and give you the time to really get the feel for it more intensively. Kitesurfing is an extreme sport for a reason and if you don’t learn the safety and etiquette you will run into trouble.
Network and join with communities out there like Kite Girls UK or Women’s Kiteboarding Collective if you are going it alone or join a club like 2XS West Wittering Beach to meet other like minded people and new friends.
Don’t give up – the early days can be a challenge but whether you are a fast or slow learner you will progress to love it if you keep at it!