How does Jesse Richman feel about failure? “A failure is only a failure if you stay down.” These and many more wise words await in this interview. When asked about how he interprets risk in kitesurfing, his positive approach to life, and to injuries, is apparent. Read on to hear more about this warrior’s approach in this exclusive IKSURFMAG interview!

The pursuit of glory in kitesurfing isn’t always easy, and you know that better than most! Being a top-level athlete in any sport comes with significant risk; kiting is no different. Is this something you’re always conscious of? Do you accept potential injury as a side-effect of your career choice?

Life is an exciting, wild, and dangerous ride; one can get seriously hurt doing just about anything. However, there is an increased risk when going out into extreme conditions or performing advanced manoeuvres kiteboarding. I don’t mind taking risks when I feel prepared.

I always do everything I can to assess and manage risk. I utilize a military special forces training style, where one trains for every possible scenario and is as prepared as possible for any outcome. I constantly adapt and modify my plan throughout any risk-filled adventure, continually readjusting to stay on the path of highest success and be ready with a backup plan if the shit hits the fan.

Your recent injury at Ho’okipa was a gnarly one. Was that the worst kiting injury that you’ve had?

I’ve had many intense injuries with different complications and recoveries. This one was the most significant bone break I’ve ever had and the most painful injury of my life.

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What was the recovery process like? Do you put as much focus and drive into re-training your body as you would into training for a big kite competition?

Both have their challenges; what stands out to me is the exceptionally difficult moments when returning from an injury. There are times when your body feels like it will never perform again, let alone feel like it has in the past. Injuries can make or break you. For me, they have always been the most incredible teachers. It takes way more drive to motivate yourself to endure the pain and keep on pushing when the progress is so slow and elementary. It’s easy to get stuck in an injury or accept recovery at 70%.

Every significant injury in my life has changed me completely. When the world feels like it’s coming down on top of you, you choose by force – lay on the ground and feel sorry for yourself or find the strength to carry the weight and keep going.

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When you’re back on the water, does the memory of that recent injury affect the way you ride or the risks you take on the water?

It might help to remind me to stay focused, but I don’t ever make moves out of fear. I’m not scared of hurting myself, but I am super motivated to stay strong and focused.

What does an injury like that mean for your career? Your sponsors? And you personally (family, finances, mental state)?

I’m very fortunate to have fantastic sponsors and a loving/supportive family. Injuries can end a career, but only if you let them. North Kiteboarding, Mystic Boarding, High Peaks, and I are all in it for the long run, we know the road won’t always be smooth, but we stand together.

My family is used to me getting injured, so they’re chill, and my fiancé Juliette loves taking care of me and playing doctor! :p

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Is it worth it?

Not to be generic with this answer, but I honestly would rather live an exciting life than one in fear. I do everything to stay healthy and injury-free. I know that sometimes I miscalculate, and that’s just part of life. A failure is only a failure if you stay down.

Has your perception of that changed after injury, or as you’ve gotten older and your life and priorities have changed?

My perspective on life is ever-evolving. I like to live like a warrior; every move counts.


To read more on Risk vs. Reward in kitesurfing from your favourite pros, check out No Pain, No Gain, featured in Issue 91 of IKSURFMAG!

Thu 3rd Mar, 2022 @ 9:00 am

By Crystal Veness
Editor at IKSURFMAG, Crystal Veness hails from Canada but is based in South Africa. When she isn't busy kitesurfing or reporting on the latest industry news for the mag, she is kicking back somewhere at a windy kite beach or working on creative media projects.
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