How Much Do Pro Kitesurfers Make?

Professional athletes in well-established sports can count on a steady and large source of income, but what about pros in sports that are not as widely known, such as kitesurfing? How do professional kitesurfers make money, and how much money do they make?

There is not a clear average income for pro kitesurfers. Ways of making money from kitesurfing include competing, sponsorship, a personal brand, and teaching. Competition is the highest paying, averaging around $30,000 per competition. Pro kite surfers use a combination to support themselves.

While it is not possible to name an average number for pro kite surfing in general, you can get an idea of how much a person can make from kitesurfing by looking at the various money-making means at a kitesurfer’s disposal. Keep reading to find out more about how much a kitesurfer can get from each of these sources.

Competitions

One of the most lucrative and also hardest ways to make money as a professional kitesurfer is by winning competitions. Kitesurfing competitions give out between 10,000 to 70,000 euros. The majority of competitions come in somewhere around the 30,000 range. Kitesurfing is a global sport, so most competitions pay in euros, though a few pay in US dollars.

Thus, if you win a competition you can walk away with a substantial paycheck. However, winning competitions is neither easy nor reliable. To get a steady income from competition prize money you have to be the best of the best. Only the top ten pro kitesurfers can trust in competition prize money to pay the bills.

Another thing to consider when thinking about how much pro kitesurfers make from competitions is the cost of competing itself. Kitesurfing competitions occur all over the world. The expenses of traveling to enough competitions to make money can quickly become a drain on a surfer’s funds as well.

Because of how hard it is to make money solely through competing, most pro kite surfers have an additional source of kitesurfing related income.

Sponsorship

In order to be able to afford to travel for competitions and the gear required for kitesurfing, many pro kitesurfers seek a sponsorship. Sponsorship involves getting a kitesurfing brand to support you.

The support a kitesurfer gets from a sponsor varies in degree. It could be free gear, covering travel costs for competitions, or a full-blown deal for representing a company’s products.

Sponsorship deals are difficult to win as well, but they become especially hard to land if you go about it the wrong way. Sponsorships are given to pro kite surfers who show passion and dedication, not those who can land cool tricks.

This often means that your chances of getting a sponsorship depend on how long you have been in the sport. Starting from a young age and being willing to pay your dues is usually necessary to get a good deal.

Sponsorship is something that has to be built up over time. Many kitesurfers start with something as simple as getting discounts from a local shop and then work their way up to being part of a company team.

Because of the varying degrees of sponsorship, it is difficult to gauge how much exactly a pro kitesurfer makes from a sponsorship. In general, the more time someone puts into the sport, the better sponsorship deal they are likely to get.

Building a Brand

For those who do not have a deal with a kitesurfing company, there is also the option to build up their personal brand. A personal brand involves building interest in and a following for your pro kitesurfing career.

How Do You Build a Personal Brand?

The most important step for creating your kitesurfing brand is making yourself known. You need to be a known face in the kitesurfing world to get any brand recognition. This involves going to competitions, even if you are not competing, meeting top surfers, and keeping up with the latest news in the industry.

Besides having a physical presence in the kitesurfing world, creating a brand will also require a social media presence. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are all ways to produce content and grow a following.

Making videos can be an especially important aspect of pro kitesurfer’s brands. Showcasing gear, displaying tricks, and offering tips are all types of videos that pro kitesurfers can make to amass a lot of interest in their person and career.

How Does a Personal Brand Pay?

If a pro kitesurfer can successfully build their personal brand, they can create a steady source of income for themselves. Having a popular channel on YouTube can earn a surfer steady money.

If a pro kitesurfer becomes well known enough for their opinion to be sought, then reviewing different products or offering opinions on rankings and competition developments can become another potential income source.

Some pro kitesurfers have been able to take their brand to another level. Kevin Langeree and Damien Girardin have started their own kitesurfing equipment company, Reedin.

Again exact numbers here are impossible to determine because the methods and scope of these projects vary so much. You can make money as a pro kitesurfer with a YouTube channel or by making your own equipment company. What is clear is that making money as a kitesurfer depends largely on optimizing the image and interest you create by competing in the sport.

Teaching

Earning money through competing, sponsorships, and building a personal brand all take one thing: time. That is why many pro kitesurfers turn to teaching as one of the fastest ways to start making money.

Teaching kitesurfing usually involves means working for a school. The teacher gets a commission from each lesson, and the school takes the rest for providing the equipment and students.

On average kitesurfing, instructors earn between $40 to $100 an hour. However, they rarely work full 8 hour days. They often work 4 hours a day, which translates to somewhere between $120 to $400 a day.

Teachers can earn more if they do not work for a school, but that also means having to take on additional expenses such as equipment and insurance. Kitesurfers who earn money from instructing can also face an income shortage during off-seasons.

Having a personal brand can help in getting more students and earning a larger commission as an instructor. Some elite pro kitesurfers have taken the teaching aspect to another level by opening their own kitesurfing schools.

So Can You Make Good Money as a Professional Kite Surfer?

Kitesurfing is not an industry to get into if you want to make money. Immense dedication to the sport is required if you want to even begin making money. People who choose to become pro kitesurfers are not in it for the money.

That being said after a kitesurfer puts in the work and earns recognition they can begin to make money through the various sources above. The amount of money depends largely on what income sources they choose to pursue and how well they can sell themselves.

Of course, getting started requires an upfront gear purchase that can get quite expensive. But should you choose to go the business or pro route, it’s likely a tax-deductible expense. If you’re interested in grabbing some cool gear, read my Kitesurfer Equipment Buyer’s Guide.

Conclusion

Kitesurfers can make absolutely nothing or find themselves worth several million dollars. While competitions are the most obvious source of money, most pro kitesurfers make money by building name recognition in the industry in order to earn sponsorships and other deals.

Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding, with wakeboards and kitesurfing the next challenges for my adult kids. Click the photo for a lot more.

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