KITESURFER Lewis Crathern admits he would love to become a world champion in the sport.
The 30-year-old from Worthing is back competing in a number of competitions, including the big air division of the Virgin Kitesurf World Championships, which began earlier this year.
He finished fifth in the first round of the event – which is sponsored by Richard Branson – in Morocco and nine more rounds will take place at various venues around the world, with the next in Venezuela.
Having previously jumped over Worthing and Brighton piers, it is a top-three finish in the big air division which is top of Crathern’s aims this year.
He said: “My real aims are to get a world ranking and, ideally, one day, I’d like to be a world champion.
“My aim for this year is to finish in the top three and then try to win it sometime in the future.
“It’s a real blessing that the big air competition came back as I was thinking about not competing so much. It’s given me another chance to try to get as good a world ranking as I can, ninth is the best I’ve had overall in the world in freestyle and it would be nice to go a bit higher than that.
“It’s good for me to be around the events as well, as there’s lots of commentary jobs.
“I’d like to be in the Olympics one day as well but that will depend on whether there is a slalom or big air event.
“It would be amazing to become a world champion, though. I’d be straight up there with my I love Worthing shirt on because I’m really proud to have come from here.”
On whether he has any plans to jump a pier again, Crathern, whose Brighton pier jump has more than half a million views on YouTube, said: “I think my pier jumping days are over now but I have a few ideas up my sleeve – large exposure things that I could do with kitesurfing.
“The pier stuff really helped my career. It wasn’t really going anywhere before those jumps. It really helped me understand how kiting is perceived by the media and it attracted new sponsors.
“There’s a lot to lose if something goes wrong doing that now. I was 24 then and I’m 30 now, so maybe I’m be a bit wiser.
“I’d not seen kiting on ITV News before that and there was no plan to do that. It just happened and it was amazing how people received it.
“The pier videos have been everywhere, I’ve been sat in an airport in Egypt before and seen it come on.
“That leads me back to the big air division and how that’s come back. People enjoy watching someone fly through the air – that’s the real unique part of the sport.”
Crathern believes he will be kitesuring for the rest of his life and says the sport gets bigger and bigger each year.
Commentary and coaching jobs while away help him to compete in the sport full-time, while he also enjoys talking to local schools when he is back in Worthing.
He said: “I never didn’t think that I’d be doing it because I never looked at another career or plan. I just stayed with it and stayed passionate about it.
“I looked at all the opportunities that came my way and took them – commentary and the coaching – and now I believe this is what I’ll be doing forever.
“My mum and dad have stopped asking me what I’m going to do in the future now because they can see this is what I want to do.
“With the big air stuff coming back, I think I can do it until I’m 50 because it’s not so difficult on the body. I’ll be involved with the sport for the rest of my life.”
The first round of the British Championships, which Crathern will take part in, will be in Lancing on May 30 and 31.
He was freestyle champion from 2005 to 2008 and said: “I left because I wanted to stay on top and the kids were getting really good.
“There’s no pressure for me now, I’ll just go to enjoy it. But it’s just as important for me to be an ambassador for these events to help them get bigger.”
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