Living the dream
Ready to meet a real life action duo… that don’t just prance around taking selfies all day but actually do stuff! Cool stuff! Like kitesurfing and filming content for brands like Red Bull and Armani.
Read our interview with Tom and Sophie. A professional kitesurfer and personal trainer turned sports and lifestyle copywriter, who fell in love and now spend their days, living, breathing, sleeping water sports in some of the world’s most epic locations.
They talk to us about how they met, their favourite kitesurfing destinations, tips for staying balanced, as well as the highs and lows that come with living their dream.
Their mantra? “You will never get to where you are going, unless you look around and realise that you are already there!”
Prepare to feel inspired… (and a tiny bit jealous)
How and where did you meet?
Tom: We first met in Tarifa, Spain. At that time it was Sophie’s home town and I was blowing through as it is one of the most popular kitesurfing destinations in Europe. I was there to film a video with some friends.
Sophie: I was based there for 7 years. As well as being which is one of the world’s most popular kitesurfing and windsurfing destinations in the world, it’s also insanely beautiful and a buzzing hub for lifestyle seekers and party goers. A friend of mine out there asked me to show their brother what Tarifa had to offer. Said brother happened to be Tom who was filming a section for one of his kiteboarding movies with mates. The rest is history.
Tell us about your careers to date?
Tom: My career has been varied. It started when I was about 12 years old and I first learned to kitesurf. That laid the foundations for my inspirations further down the line. I took my gap year from university and started to compete with kitesurfing on the world tour at the time. During that year I managed to pick up sponsorship contracts from brands like North Kiteboarding, ION, Fanatic, WightLink. I also started a video production company.
Since then, I have gone on to produce content for the brands that have supported me and worked on my more mainstream projects. Positioning myself to be an authority within the kiteboarding industry and able to deliver content to mainstream brands.
I am a big believer that action sports are an important part for the future of health and fitness on a mainstream level. I have gone on to work with Red Bull, Philips, Renault, Google and Armani. Delivering action sports content and creative marketing that push sideline sports in a legitimate way.
Sophie: I’ve played various sports to national level and I was part of a tennis academy for four years. Packing away my rackets after A-Levels I went off on my Gap Year teaching windsurfing. Not long after, my head was turned by kiteboarding and the World Tour.
Although a successful athlete, I never really took to competition and so looked more towards building myself a career within the sporting world.
I qualified as a Personal Trainer, Sports Masseuse and Nutritionist, even doing a stint in the Finance Industry in Gibraltar. I later did Sports PR and Marketing in Madrid in order to gain a better understanding of business, and refine my Spanish.
For the last 5 years, i’ve been working in the action sports and lifestyle industry as a copywriter, content creator, brand developer and fitness specialist for international brands.
I’ve had great opportunities to work with leading in-industry brands like North Kiteboarding, Fanatic, as well as emerging mainstream brands such as Equi London.
Tom’s position and reputation within the Kiteboarding world, teamed with my fitness expertise and our combined networks has also presented many opportunities to work together on larger projects as we are the models, athletes, videographers, photographers, editors, writers, distributors… It’s an exciting and fresh way to work.
You’re based on the Isle of Wight. Can you each describe a typical day?
Tom: I grew up on the Isle of Wight, so it was a natural place to base. The island offers a whole range of sports, from surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, mountain biking, paragliding, skating and wake boarding throughout the summer.
A typical day is varied, but usually I try and do at least one sport to get my fix each day. I have recently done a small Vlog about living on the island and computing to London.
Sophie: When I’m back on the Island the daily itinerary is different to when on the road. For me it’s often crunch time, knuckling down and putting together the content packages for the trips I’ve just been on, or planning new projects.
Although i’m originally from Fulham, London, The Isle of Wight is the perfect place for this as there’s an endless playground with world class conditions for all the sports I enjoy. I don’t ever feel like i’m missing out. I start the day by hitting the gym as it helps me focus on my work. Then I hit the computer for most of the day.
The last part of the afternoon is normally dedicated to a surf, kite, bike, wakeboard or whatever is on offer. Then it’s back to the computer to tie up the day’s tasks. It’s a simple but fulfilling setup that lends itself to productivity.
You have both travelled to the most incredible places in the world filming. Is there anywhere in particular that stands out?
Tom: I get asked this a lot and I think it depends on what you look for in a destination. There are so many places out there. From remote paradise to the hustle and bustle of urban cities. Cape Town is definitely up on the list. It offers some of the worlds best geography, steady trade winds throughout the season with incredible food and wine to boot.
Sri Lanka is one of my favourite spots. It has such a mix of cultures and coastlines so is definitely on the list. Next up would be Rio. A city by the sea it has a whole range of action sports available from paragliding, surfing, kiting with a young and fit population full of energy.
Sophie: My current favourite is the island of Palawan in the Philippines. It should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s untapped and unspoilt in most places, with a few dreamy locations tucked away; like Blue Palawan in the south, and Qi in the north near the breath taking area of El Nido. There’s all sorts to see, activities to be do and blue lagoons to swim in.
Tarifa has to be up there as Europe’s top playground. The small seaside town marks where the atlantic meets the mediterranean, with Morocco a stone’s throw away. I love it for its way of life and the surrounding towns. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway to try SUP, Surf and Yoga there’s a great place in Conil – just outside of Tarifa – called Conil Surf Yoga.
Cape Town is a spot that just keeps giving, no matter what interests you have. The landscape lends itself to amazing outdoor activities, whilst its cosmopolitan city is packed full of energy and culture.
Finally i’d have to say Wakatobi Island in Indonesia. A private Eco-luxury resort, it’s the kind of place you’ll never, ever, want to leave. The diving is spectacular and inaccessible to the masses, whilst the kiteboarding is adventurous. For those looking to kick back, the accommodation and hospitality of the resort are second-to-none.
As an active duo, how do you relax?
Tom: Working from home and often doing a lot of different projects can make it tricky to relax, switch off and unwind. For me that is the great thing about sports. They are my outlet, they help me to focus, relax and feel good. I guess that is why my life has developed to follow the route it has. I have always followed what makes me happy.
Sophie: Sports have always been a stress buster for me, but i’ve learned over the years that not everything has to be done at full speed as it leads to burning out. Now if I want to chill, I’ll go for a session and then take time to appreciate it after. Preferably at the beach with mates and a cold one. At home, I make an effort to see my oldest friends in London and go home to my family. Seeing my core crew is very grounding and good for the soul.
What’s on your ‘to-do’ list for 2017?
Tom: 2017 is off to a good start. It began in Cape Town and I filmed a video from Armani then I met Sophie in the Philippines and we visited Palawan Island after an event.
Next up we have a trip the Fuerteventura to develop some catalogue content for a few brands, then I have a contest out in Cape Hatteras in the US. There are a few events around the UK too, so its not all travel as there is a great water-sports scene in the UK.
I want to go to the mountains! I haven’t been in so long, and it’s something that I really miss. Who doesn’t like fresh powder in the morning and crispy snow. I’d like to go surfing in Morocco and go back to Tarifa for a bit.
I have so many old friends and places I need to check in with that a week’s just not long enough. There are also a few projects that i’ve been working on in the background. I can’t wait to get them off the ground very soon!
Tipple of choice?
Tom: Probably a Gin and Tonic at the moment!
Sophie: Oh that’s a tough one! For me it all depends on the scenario and location. Wine in Cape Town. Margaritas in Mexico. Mojitos in Brazil. But really, there’s nothing that can top an ice cold beer after a sunset session.
Balancing a lifestyle of competitive sport, travel & writing sound like a dream lifestyle. Can you tell us some of the highs and lows that come with this?
Tom: I think a lot of the highlights are caught on camera, however the best parts are probably not. The freedom to travel is amazing, visiting places that you wouldn’t normally get to go like Neker Island, Wakatobi, Peru, Cuba etc. As well as the freedom to stay active and customise our schedules.
The downsides, like all self employed people I am sure, are the uncertainties of income. Physical and mental risks that you need to take to get these opportunities. And sometimes the lack of rest and constant pace that is required to make this lifestyle possible. It is easy to burn out!
Sophie: Although we often travel together, we balance things differently as the projects require 100% from both of us, but in different aspects. It often also means that there are double the amount of highs, and lows. It’s an art that’s for sure and you have to be comfortable to work hard.
The hardest parts of my setup is probably why most people don’t live the same way. It requires taking risks, believing in your capabilities and relentless drive. There is no day off!
Being self employed you’re the only one responsible for you. Also, the massive physical and mental output required is massive, which I love! But like Tom says, it’s so easy to burn out.
The highs have contributed to the most spectacular library of memories, most of which aren’t out there for everyone to see as the camera is cast to one side and the moment fully embraced.
In almost every trip there’s something that has taken my breath away be that an experience or an achievement. When you work so hard for something and it all falls into place, even for just a split second, it makes everything worthwhile and the passion come alive!
In five years time, where do you think you’ll be?
Tom: I have been asked this all my life and I think if I had ever been able to answer this question, I would never be doing what I am right now!
Sophie: I’m not sure about the next 5 days, which used to really irritate me. It sounds silly, but when I started out on this road I didn’t fully understand the bigger picture of what I was trying to achieve. But over the years I have grown to fully comprehend my vision and be confident in my capabilities, embracing the freedom, grabbing every opportunity and working hard.
Tom: You will never get to where you are going, unless you look around and realise that you are already there!
Sophie: Dream big, play hard, work harder.