Monday, April 2, 2012

Visit the FLOW - for ladies of watersports

Amy Carter from ‘FLOW - For Ladies Of Watersports’ in England took some time out of her hectic week to tell us why the world needs more windsurfers.

Amy edits Boards magazine as well as working on her own website promoting women in watersports, but was a professional windsurfer until injury came knocking last year. She won two Formula Youth World Championships, and holds a number of British and European racing titles.

“I competed internationally from about 12 years of age, I grew up with windsurfing really,” she says. “There are lots of things to love about it. 

"It’s really challenging, you can’t pick it up straight away. But whatever level you get to, there is always something new to learn.”

Cornwall and the south-east of England are some of her favourite places to get out on the water, so it’s maybe a good thing that she’s recuperating in London she says – far away from temptation.

“I never forget about the water, but it’s easier here,” she says while explaining her shoulder injury. “It’s like any sport, when you get to obsessive levels where you do the same sport every day, you get injuries.”

Not that anything like surgery and up to six months of recuperation is going to keep Amy away from her boards… 

Why windsurfing?
“There is a complete feeling of freedom in windsurfing. When you plane, you can glide quickly over the top of the water instead of ploughing through it. That feeling when you first start going quite quickly, well it’s just hard to explain,” she says.

But like lots of other watersports, there is one drawback to being a woman in windsurfing – being a woman in windsurfing. Amy says she was often the only girl on the national squad and even now she estimates only about 10 per cent of professional windsurfers are female.

And what happens on FLOW ? 
That’s where “FLOW” comes in. Amy set up the website when she was working in Tenerife in Spain and she says the main aim is to encourage more women to take up all watersports. 

“It’s about role-models. I never wanted the site to be about me, it’s about getting women involved in the sport. We’ve had great feedback on the site, there is definitely more buzz about women’s windsurfing now which is positive,” she says.

Amy says there are more women’s only events taking place in the UK now, which she sees as a good thing to encourage beginners. And she’s happy to see some women’s only events taking place for professionals too as that means the numbers are slowly increasing.

Slowly … she says a British Windsurfing Association event which normally attracts three or four women managed to pull in 14 last year. So yes it’s four times more but still lots to do.

Is success all about the money?
Sponsorship is another tricky area she says. Getting small sponsors to give surfers a 10 per cent discount on equipment isn’t so hard she says, the problem lies in getting enough money to travel to events. Women can be stuck in what she describes as a Catch-22 where they don’t want to say No! to the small money but then sponsors think there is no need to give more.

Looking to the future, she says: “I would like to see more coverage of women in windsurfing and other watersports. It all comes down to money, there needs to be more videos and photographs of women.”

Pic from UK Windsurfing

You can read more about Amy and other British watersports stars on FLOW - For Ladies Of Watersports


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