Gisela Pulido never stops surprising us: she's kited between all the Canary Islands, won a record number of world championships and claimed the Guinness world record for being the youngest world champion ever.
Now that she's taking a break from the competitive world, the Catalan kiter decided to take up the hydrofoil for a friendly challenge against the Spanish Impulse team's catamaran, one of the eight teams that qualified to compete in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup finals in Bermuda on June 20 and 21.
Gisela, you never fail to surprise us with your projects. How did the challenge against Spanish Impulse in Mallorca go for you?
It was an experience that I'll never forget. At first it was very humbling: their boat is really big and there are eight guys on the boat. On top of that, they go really fast above the water with the hydrofoil. It was very impressive to see this boat from so close up, but I really felt like taking up the challenge against them and seeing who could go faster.
You have some good friends in that boat, don't you?
Yes indeed. Florian Trittel is a good friend of mine – we both live in Tarifa. He's is also a pro kiteboarder. We kited together and we have the same group of friends. I also knew Jordi [Xammar, the skipper] from the Movistar team and I'm definitely a supporter of the rest of the team.
Kiting with a hydrofoil is nothing like using a regular twin-tip board, right? What are the main differences?
I could almost say that I was born with a freestyle board under my feet and a kite in my hands. I spent loads of time using this gear and I'm really used to it, and with a regular board I have much more control on the water. The hydrofoil is something new for me and I only had a few practice days. I didn't dedicate much time to reaching a high level, so I thought I could probably go as fast with my other board.
But in reality, you can go so much faster with a hydrofoil, but it's a lot more sensitive. Each and every little movement affects the board since the contact area with the water is much smaller. Kitesurfing is getting really specific and all the disciplines are getting more and more professional. It's really hard (not to say impossible) to be really good at all of them!
What size is your board? And what type of kite did you use?
My freestyle board is 1.35m and I used a 12 sq m kite, the Wow model from Liquid Force.
The AC45F, the foiling catamaran used for Red Bull Youth America's Cup measures 13.45m and carries six crew members. Gisela used a 1.35m board and a 12 sq m kite.
What do you like the most about sailing? Would you dare to sign up for a challenge like the America's Cup or the Red Bull Youth America's Cup?
What I like the most is without a doubt the fact that they use the wind to navigate. I like challenges and I wouldn't mind taking part in such a race, even though I don't think that's very realistic. I haven't sailed much on a boat... Since I was very young, I've always done board sports. But I learn fast and Florian lives in Tarifa, so I'd have a good teacher!
We're sure that you'll keep surprising us with you future projects. What's coming up for you?
Lately, I've been using my freestyle board a lot less and I've been riding my surfboard a lot more. I've also been training in different spots and I'm now looking for different type of conditions. This winter, I was in Cape Verde, Peru, Mauritius... My future projects will go in this direction. First training, to gain a good technical level. Then I'll go further to start surfing on bigger waves. Step by step, but without stopping. I also do a lot of physical and mental preparation, with yoga and apnea. They're the key!
Are we going to see you come back to competition one day?
Without a doubt! Competition is something I need to live, so it shouldn't be too long before I go back to it.
Watch Spanish Impulse in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup's finals live on Red Bull TV on June 20 and 21 starting at 2pm local time / 5pm UTC / 7pm CEST!