Angely Bouillot, pioneer of kitesurfing with an atypical course

Coming back to his performance at the King of the Air, a hotly contested kitesurfing competition from November 18 to December 3, Angely Bouillot displays a Coubertinian optimism. “The competition went pretty well, I did what I could. But the important thing was already to participate!“, she confided to franceinfo: sport at the end of the intense weekend of 20-21 November. The 9,300 kilometers away from Cape Town (South Africa), where the event is being held, in no way erases its cheerful tone. Because the essential is elsewhere. At 32, and for her second consecutive appearance, she remains the only woman to qualify for the King of the Air.

To tell the truth, not much predestined her to embrace this path. A child of Val d’Isère, Angely Bouillot naturally started off towards skiing. “I’ve always been a fan of skiing!”, she laughs. Despite a good level, his descent of the slopes stops at the age of sixteen: “I was fed up with the competition”, slips the thirty-something. This is when kitesurfing comes into his life, almost by accident.

“In the summer, I would go windsurfing to Hyères with my brother and my mother. My teacher introduced me to kiteboarding, but it was still occasional, I did it a week a year.”

Angely Bouillot, professional kitesurfer

franceinfo: sport

A practice of the order of leisure, therefore, for Angely Bouillot. Which will wait a decade to really devote itself, in 2014, to kitesurfing. Before being “recalled by the glide”, the native Lyonnaise goes on to work in the artistic sphere. “I wandered through the ‘troubadour’ milieu”, she laughs. Seamstress of costumes at the opera, she then makes sets in welding. Then suddenly, at 26, it clicks. “I rarely did kite, I was in an environment that did not know this sport at all”, she recalls. A friend who is a kite teacher suggests that he take a more assiduous approach to the discipline.

It starts with competitions speed (speed, sort of time trial) in Leucate (Aude), before switching to Big air. “The rule is to try to climb as high as possible and do tricks at the peak of the jump”, explains the person concerned. “It is really rare to go from speed to Big air. She is probably the only one in this case in the circuit!” indicates Nicolas Arquin, co-author of two books devoted to extreme sports (Adrenaline, in 2018, et XTRM Sports, in 2021).

Angely Bouillot during the King of the Air, in November 2021 in Cape Town.  (Red Bull Content Pool / Ydwer van der Heide)

With growing performances, the athlete decides to knock on the door of the King of the Air, a sort of holy grail of the discipline, in 2018. A first for a woman. “There was a female competition during the first version of the King of the Air, until 2005, narrates Nicolas Arquin. But since its reappearance in 2013, the competition has become mixed. “ After two failures, Angely Bouillot qualifies for the 2020 and 2021 editions. “I did this to open a breach, she confides, nodding when asked if her approach is ‘militant’. Other women then applied after me. “

This arrival represents a real curiosity in the microcosm of kitesurfing. “The first time around, I felt people were happy that a woman was there. But this year, I also felt jealousy on the part of some.”, she squeaks.

“I think you can really call her a pioneer. In 2019, she had already participated in a demonstration before the King of the Air.

Nicolas Arquin, journalist specializing in extreme sports

franceinfo: sport

With this double participation, Angely Bouillot has become one of the twenty best specialists in the category. And this, even while acting as a novice in a circuit that she joined late. “It’s phenomenal to do that, enthuses Nicolas Arquin. To compare, the best French people all started very young, sometimes as early as ten years old. “

His sponsor accompanies him, even if a few odd jobs sometimes help him make ends meet. It is not a luxury, especially since the sport occupies it full time. “Whenever it’s windy, I’m in the water, she confides. Otherwise, I train to keep my muscles. It’s important, otherwise I get hurt faster. “ Physical glitches which, in fact, are accumulating. Touched before the King of the Air, Bouillot confides in suffering from the back, coccyx and cervical. Behind a laugh that we guess yellow, she confides “not be able to [s]’Sit”.

At 32, she lets herself be “one or two years” in the Big Air circuit, before branching off to other “dreams”. Nomad, the young woman lives in a converted truck. Inside, a workshop even allows him to create clothes. To the good memories of his young years of “troubadour”.

Stuck in Leucate before leaving for South Africa because of a broken engine, the kitesurfer is on the move. “I go where the wind takes me”, philosopher the Alpine. Between Portugal, Morocco, Spain, the United Kingdom and Romania, Bouillot has seen the country. And her desires cross the Atlantic: in the near future, she sees herself returning to her first love with snowkiting. Pushed by a kite on skis, or a snowboard, she imagines herself in “shipments to Alaska or Greenland”. “I want to travel thanks to the wind, without an engine”, she concludes.

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