Progression and confidence with Frankie Smith.

We recently had the pleasure of chatting to Frankie about where her love for watersports began and what drives her to keep pushing, despite fear. This is a great conversation for anyone from beginners to pros and we would love to hear your opinions too!

Hey Frankie! Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Hey! So, I was born in Brighton but moved to the Dominican Republic when I was 6. I lived there until I was 15, when I came back to England to do my GCSE's. I then decided to go to university to become a physiotherapist and have been working for the NHS for the past year. Growing up in the Dominican Republic was very different, I went to a small international school where a lot of my classes were in Spanish so that was a big adjustment. The island has a very nice community vibe, with great waves and wind pretty much on the dot at 12 everyday so I could surf in the morning and kite in the afternoon. After moving back to the UK, it took a while to adjust to the colder weather and lack of waves so my plans for the future are to continue working as a physio but hopefully somewhere warmer where I keep doing water sports!

Where did your love for water sports begin?

When I moved to the Dominican Republic, it was on our doorstep. My mum (who isn't a surfer) set up a surf school and she would take me and other kids from my school to get us out on the water. Then when I was 8, I remember my dad, who is a passionate kiter, got me my first kitesurf lessons. I was pretty terrified by it, which is why I quickly jumped back into surfing. I had a friend who I surfed with and we both would challenge each other out on the water. We started going to competitions together, which is when I really started to push my surfing. When I came back to the UK the swell wasn't great so I decided to get back into kitesurfing but I would say the past 3 years is when I really started to be more passionate about it. I've always loved the ocean and even now when it's cold and rainy I still try to get in the sea and make the most of it.

What does progression mean to you?

So, I am quite a competitive person, I want to push myself and make the most of each session. At the moment with my kitesurfing every time I go out, I'm trying to get better but sometimes it's scary because the ocean is so big and can be so dangerous. It's getting the confidence to give things a try and then when you do land a new trick it's so satisfying, it's almost like a release. Sometimes you don't even expect to land things but it feels so good when you do and that moment is what makes you want to keep learning and progressing. When it comes to learning something new, it can be frustrating feeling like a beginner again. Over the past few years, I've learnt that people appreciate when you're trying something new and cheer you on. Even when you're not as good as you wish you were it's still nice to see progression and try something different.

How do you push through a mental block?

It's difficult! I'm someone who can get quite frustrated when things aren't going right and with watersports you don't always get the chance to pause and get your thoughts together. Sometimes when I'm kiting and I'm having a block I will go put my kite down, maybe have a cup of tea and then try again after. Fear is a big thing and I know this is easy for me to say and hard to do but sometimes you just have to risk it, go for it and try it because more often than not once you commit you actually succeed. But it is hard, especially if you're new to something. It's easy to get caught up thinking you're the worst one there but you have to think, I'm the newest one and I've got loads of time to get better but I'm just going to go out there and enjoy it.

Let's talk about confidence! Do you think watersports can give you more confidence on and off the water?

Yeah, I think so! In terms of confidence on the water, the more things you're trying, and the more watersports you take up the more confident you're going to be trying other sports as you have transferable skills. Even just being in the water leaves you feeling happy and set for the day. Also, the sense of community you get from being involved in watersports can give you the confidence to be more sociable in your own life. When you go down to the beach kitesurfing, everyone is there to offer you a launch or give you a hand if you lose your board. When you're out the back surfing you can meet people and talk to people you maybe wouldn't normally in day to day because you're all out there enjoying the same thing. It's also nice to know that you can do something a lot of people can't. Being a woman, you do feel different as there's definitely not enough of us out there!

Do you feel connected to other women through the sports you do?

Yes definitely, as soon as someone shares that passion with you, you almost know you're going to get on. It brings people together and as there's not many women out on the water it's nice to do it together. As women we are typically less likely to take risks but when you've got another woman out there doing something crazier than you it gives you motivation and a confidence boost to see if she can do it then I can do it too.

Thanks for chatting Frankie, we hope to see you out on the water soon!