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Meet the GKA team: Episode 3

by Kate Chandler 17 Apr 07:08 PDT
Tom Hartmann © GKA Kite World Tour

If you missed "On StandBy with Jo" on Wednesday, don't worry, we've got GKA Tour Manager Tom Hartmann with us again today for the "Meet the Team" series.

Tom has been with the GKA since 2018 but he's no stranger to World Tours, having competed on them and managed one for over a decade. Find out how a former professional windsurfer got into kitesurfing, and now manages the World Tour in-between living the highlife on one of the world's most infamous wave-blessed islands.

Like many kiters Tom comes from a windsurfing background, which also means he's been with kitesurfing from the very beginning. He first picked up a kite back in 1999 but at the time his focus was on competing on the Windsurf World Tour in both Freestyle and Waves, which he did for 8 years.

His competing days came to an end when he suffered a serious shoulder injury which put him out of action for a year. At the same time the European Windsurf Freestyle World Tour were looking for a new head judge, and as Tom was a well respected athlete, and had judged many local competitions in the past, they approached him to see if he had any interest in the role. Tom saw the offer as a way to stay part of the sport he loved while recovering from injury and accepted.

He was head judge for a number of seasons and gradually his involvement with the tour grew and he became World Tour Manager, a position which he held for over a decade.

Mauritius has always held a special place in Tom's heart. He studied at a university on the island and spent numerous months training on the infamous waves the island has to offer. It was here that he met the GKA team for the first time while they were running an event on the island. Tom helped the team out by offering his expert local knowledge to Jörgen and Jaime and they were impressed with his passion and vast experience in event organisation.

Shortly after this first meeting, Jörgen and Jaime approached Tom to see if he would be interested in managing the GKA Air Games Tour. At first he was unsure if he'd be able to fit the role into his already hectic working life, he'd recently opened his own tour agency aimed at water sports enthusiasts in Mauritius, and had the Windsurf 2018 World Tour to consider as well, but by a stroke of luck the GKA Air Games dates worked around his previous commitments and he was able to say yes to an exciting new partnership.

Over time Tom released just how much he enjoyed working with Jörgen and Jaime, and was inspired by their vision for the future of the GKA, when they took over the Freestyle World Tour, Tom became full time manager of the combined Freestyle and Kite-Surf GKA Kite World Tour. The team had a great 2019 season, and 2020 also got off to a flying start under Tom's expert guidance. With great vibes and incredible enthusiasm from all involved!

Which gets us to where we are currently, on hold until further notice, but Tom is positive and still looking forward to the coming season once it starts again.

"It's really positive none of our partners want to cancel events, we're postponing for later dates but everyone is really excited to get the tour going again as soon as possible!"

Don't miss Mark Shinn "On Stand By with Jo" this Sunday.

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