André Penna: From a life in front of a computer to a nonstop, natural lifestyle
André Penna used to be a professional systems analyst and programmer, working a desk job and living the daily grind. Then he jacked it all in and became one of the lead guides for Surfin Sem Fim – a company that runs some of the most epic downwinders going!
Interview: Alexandra Sigler – Argentina
Source: Surfin Sem Fim
“Passion is stronger than knowledge”. This is the phrase we’d use to describe André Penna.
He’s one of the captains of Surfin Sem Fim and has been with the company for three years. It’s a far cry from his past life that was spent sat behind a computer. In this interview we find out what inspired him to leave it all behind and embark on a life of kitesurfing adventure and why he’s so proud to be a part of the SSF crew.
I like adrenaline and variety. Kiting is special because it gives you the ability to do different disciplines like freestyle or freeriding, or you can go very fast and ride in the waves. It’s like you can fly, speed, and surf with just one set of equipment.
Have you always enjoyed adventure?
Before kiting I did a lot of climbing and hiking expeditions. I really enjoyed going to different places and exploring but then I discovered that I could do similar trips and have these special experiences on a kiteboard as well.
Had you ever imagined that you would one day travel to the places you have by kite?
If someone told me 20 years ago that one day I could do a 600km trip on a kite board, I would not have believed it.
Yes! That’s the distance from Taíba to Atins that you’ll cover on the Ironman downwinder with Surfin Sem Fim. I once did this route alone and I was able to experience incredible moments on the water and on the land with the locals. It is amazing to be able to share moments of solitude in these places with my little backpack and enjoy the hospitality of the local people. They are full of love and welcome you in as if you are one of their own.
Why are downwinders with Surfin Sem Fim so special?
Northern Brazil is perfect for a long downwinders. There’s constant wind, sandy beaches, the waves are not too big and the water is warm. At SSF, we have two guides and one pro rider in the water accompanying our guests on every trip. For me, the quality of service we offer is improving and this is due to the experience we have amassed. We know the coast well, and each year we seek to expand and evolve the experience for our guests.
What goes on ‘behind the scenes’?
We have a logistics / support team that responds quickly and effectively if our group runs into any problems. We carry a satellite phone and two satellite messaging communicators so that we can always get in touch with our support team if we need to. We spend each night at incredible hotels with fantastic food as well!
Is it true that you like to sleep in a hammock on every downwinder?
It’s a secret! I’m so used to it that, when we’re at the hotels, I’ll be looking for a place where I can hang my ‘bed’ and get a good night’s rest.
How good do you need to be to join in on an SSF downwinder?
The level is relative (there are routes to suit riders of all abilities). For example, a person who’s done little more than go kiting at weekends for around a year may already be good enough to do the Classic Route or Delta Route!
What do you like most about being a part of SSF?
For me it’s all about the many friendships that are made on the SSF downwind adventures. You meet people from all over the world who are different but who share a common passion for kiting. Everything flows naturally and the conversations are always interesting and, after five or six days of traveling together, a friendship is formed. When the route ends, you know you’re going to miss the people you’ve met! We share many moments together, but the good thing is that most of them come back every year. So it’s not a farewell, but a “see you soon”.