Liam Whaley – 2015 Kitesurfing World Champion
Liam Whaley ’s fierce dedication to the sport backed by his results after participating on arguably one of the most competitive Kiteboarding freestyle world tours, has earned him the World Freestyle Championship.
“WOW. WHAT A YEAR THIS HAS BEEN! THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF UPS AND DOWNS, BUT COMPETING, TRAVELING THE WORLD AND LEARNING NEW TRICKS IS WHAT I LIVE FOR. IT’S WHAT I HAVE ALWAYS ENJOYED AND THERE IS NOTHING ELSE THAT I WOULD RATHER DO” SAYS LIAM WHALEY.
The journey to the top wasn’t an easy ride for Whaley. After starting the season strong with two wins (Dakhla, Morocco and Isla De Coche, Venezuela), he suffered an injury to his left Tibia before the VKWC stop in Tarifa, Spain which left him in a precarious position.
10 days before the event in Tarifa, Whaley, in training mode at his home spot, tried a new trick that consisted of kicking off a wave into Backmobe 7. He came down hard from 3 meters up in gusty winds and injured his tibia. In order to keep his lead on the tour, he knew he needed to come up with a good strategy. “My trainer and I decided that the best option was for me to compete in Tarifa and miss the next event in Fuerteventura. I had constant sharp pains running up my leg but I knew that I had to get through the event and then I could rest for a month.” Liam Whaley reflects. He managed to podium in Tarifa and then was able to discard the missed Fuerteventura event and hold on to his lead on the VKWC ranking.
Going into the event in Germany, his tibia still wasn’t 100% recovered but he had managed to get a couple days on the water before it. Erratic conditions meant he would end up pumping up all of his kites and then evade continually changing tides with the full quiver with a bum knee. With the help of questionably the worst caddy ever (no offense Nick ;), he overcame the odds and managed to come in second (2nd) at St. Peter Ording. The chance for first (1st) slipped out of his hands by a margin when he did his fifth (5th) trick out of the competition box. However his results kept him at the front of the VKWC rankings. “That was probably the hardest event of my life. I was so stressed!” he states.
Then the controversy surrounding the tour heated up to the boiling point. “I didn’t know that I was the Champion until a few weeks ago when I found out that the rest of the events had been cancelled. It is a shame to end the year this way. I have trained pretty much the whole of my life to make it to the top, now that I have achieved this goal it’s really anticlimactic” Liam says.
To top off the anticlimactic end of the VKWC he learned that the failure to appear in Fuerte put his position in the cross fire between the IKA and VWKC which score events on an entirely different scale. While making heads or tails of the political debate between the governing bodies remains fruitless at this time, the situation has been a huge disappointment to the entire industry.
“I do not know what is going to happen next year! I don’t know who is going to run the tour or If there will even be a tour. It is sad to see unnecessary politics going on in our sport, a sport that is so young and that is growing so fast. I hope that whatever happens will be good for the industry and all Kiteboarding enthusiasts out there. I am going to carry on training hard during this preseason and I am going to do my very best to defend my World Title next year!” Liam says.