Andre Phillip: the Antiguan kiteboarder who became the best in the world

WE TALK to Andre Phillip about growing up on the island of Antigua and his rise to become one of the most celebrated kiteboarders in the world.



Andre Phillip

Andre Phillip started kiteboarding in 1999.

ANDRE PHILLIP grew up on the Caribbean island of Antigua and was introduced to kiteboarding in 1999. The island didn’t have a watersports community at all but Andre has gone on to become a legend in the sport.


He has travelled around the globe and won World Cups as well as being voted number one kiteboarder in the world two years running by Kiteboarder magazine.


In this exclusive interview Andre goes into detail about his passion for the sport and talks about what it was like growing up on Antigua. Read on to find out about Tona, the company he’s a founder and owner of, and learn about his vision and aims for the years ahead.

When did you first get into kiteboarding and what was the sport like when you started?

I first got into the Kiteboarding in 1999. My friend Eli was the first on the island to do the sport and when I saw it I knew it was something I’d love to try.  To me it looked like all of the sports I already loved doing (wakeboarding, surfing, windsurfing) mixed into one sport so I begged him to teach me and the rest is history.


The sport was quite primitive and there wasn’t a lot of information on how to do things or much gear options so you had to make a lot of it up as you went along.  The gear was also very powerful and not very safe so you had to tame the beast so to speak. Gear has come a long way and it’s much safer and easier to learn these days.


Tona Kitesurfing

When Andre started kiteboarding the sport was almost unheard of on the island of Antigua.

Tell us about where you grew up and the opportunities you had to kiteboard there?


I grew up on the small island of Antigua in the Caribbean. Watersports are extremely small and almost non-existent,  I mean I can probably name all of the people who do any sort of boardsport on the water so you could imagine that when Eli brought kitesurfing to Antigua there wasn’t much opportunity. I learnt from him and then we taught other friends.


Who were your biggest inspirations at the beginning?  


My biggest inspirations at the beginning was the Maui crew because they had their hands on the sport since the beginning and they were pushing the limits. Specifically Lou Wainman and Mauricio Abreu who made everything they did look stylish even though they were doing the hardest tricks at the time.


Tona Kitesurfing

Andre has been voted number one kiteboarder in the world by a well-known kiteboarding magazine.

What have been some of your biggest kiteboarding successes?


I’ve won World Cup events, been at the top of the most prestigious park style event called the Triple S which is in America and was voted number one kiteboarder by the readers of Kiteboarder magazine for a couple years in a row.  But I’m just happy to have been around the sport in the early days and help influence others to try the sport themselves.


Andre Phillip

Andrew has competed in World Cup events around the world.

Where in the world has the sport taken you?


All over really. Once there is good wind and a good enough area of water you can kiteboard. Some people even do it on land and snow. It’s taken me to the US, Canada, Caribbean South america, Islands in the Pacific, Russia, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Mauritius to name a few. It’s cool to see so many people around the world enjoying what is the fastest growing water sport. 


Tell us about your work designing new products for the sport?


Let me first give you a small back story. I’ve teamed up with Dereck Camacho who has been shaping boards for many years and Adam Anton who has a kiteboarding school in Antigua and is an artist. We started a kiteboarding brand called Tona. With their expertise and my knowledge of the sport, product and having travelled the world to interact with kiteboarders from all over we knew we could do something special as we all have our strengths and common interest in Kiteboarding.


I’ve always been very critical about the product I ride. When you spend so many hrs on the water you start to become very connected with your gear and so I spend a lot of time working with Dereck and our factory to get the gear dialled in to a high standard.


Tona Kitesurfing

Andre is one of the founders and owners of the kiteboarding brand Tona and is passionate about the products the company make.


What exciting projects are you currently working on and what does the rest of the year and beyond have in store?


The future is looking bright as we expand Tona and continue to create products that help people have a great time in the water



You can find Andrew on Instagram at @andrephillip

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