Interview with Nico Parlier and Bertrand Boulle
Exclusive interview with world kiteboarding champion Nico Parlier and Bertrand Boulle talking about victories in sport and business.
Earlier this year kiter Nico Parlier mounted a successful defense of his title in difficult conditions at the 2019 Pascucci Formula Kite World Championships played out on the waters of northern Italy’s stunning Lake Garda. It was his 4th World Championship title and 3rd consecutive in Formula Kite one.
Bertrand Boulle, founder and managing director of Investors Europe, established his reputation through years of hard work and highly successful business ventures worldwide. Seeing the huge potential in the young sportsman and keen on making a difference, he’s been supporting ambitious Parlier’s career almost since its beginning.
Today we sat down with both of them and talked about professional sport and business, challenges and opportunities that both face and how Investors Europe sponsorship supported Nico’s path to become a world champion.
Question: Nico, in one of the interviews you mentioned that the best day in your life was when you started kite surfing for the first time. How did you come to it and did you do other extreme/watersports before that?
Nico: Yes, my parents remind me that when I was nine years old, I was hooked on my little kite and would not want to leave the beach until I was completely wracked. At the age of 12, I began with traction kites and used them on the buggy (it is like tricycle on the beach). My parents thought it was safer to sail on the ground at the time. Already in 2008, I started on the water, on the same kite. My kite was meant for the kitesurfing, but the board was a simple wood board that you throw on the edge of the water and you slide a few meters. I did my first tracks on those boards and those kites without any injuries. I was thirteen years old and have been kiting ever since.
Question: When people speak about kiteboarding, they imagine the sea, sun, waves, and speed, what is this sport for you? What do you feel when you race your kite?
Nico: For me, it’s the feeling of complete freedom! I’m in the moment, not thinking about anything else, with a burning feeling of joy in your stomach. If you’ve ever, as a kid, dreaming of flying off a roof with an umbrella in your hands, this is now happening to you. It is a great feeling.
Question: What is the top speed you’ve achieved?
Nico: The top speed is 46.9 knots.
Question: How many kilometers per hour is that?
Nico: Approximately 87 kilometers per hour.
Question: With no protection?
Nico: We have helmets.
Question: So, you wear it all the time?
Nico: Not all the time, but for the high speeds. Also now it is mandatory to wear a helmet during competition.
Question: Was the kiting your first sport?
Nico: I grew up sailing with my family because my dad is a very famous French sailor. So, I kind of grew up on the sea.
Question: Kiteboarding as a sport discipline came to lifeless than ten years ago. What is your opinion about this sport: is it privileged and elite? Who are the people competing in it today?
Nico: It is definitely a niche. Some people involved in kiting are interested in tech and enjoy the fact that it is a high tech sport. It is quite amazing to have a piece of cloth in the air that drives you and makes you fly above the water. Understanding the technology and the physics behind it is a big part of the sport itself. On the other hand, a person that wants to have fun on the water and take his equipment with him easily will also choose to kite. You can travel all over the world, put the kite in the bag and you don’t need any container or ship, as with other sports.
Question: Question to both of you. What did you feel when Nico has won his first world champion title?
Bertrand: I was sitting at my computer working on a Saturday when I look up and saw this guy called Nico Parlier. He was winning everything in Mauritius. I thought to myself “What’s going on?” and started digging more information. We got in touch and after that, he just won every single race he participated in. I just thought to myself “Either he is just lucky or this is meant to be”. After that, we exchanged a few emails and messages, found many touchpoints and our partnership is getting stronger every year. At that moment I also realized synergies that are there between kiteboarding and trading. In our business we have the same goals: give our clients the freedom to define their trading objectives, set the risk level and achieve financial independence.
Nico: I was really focused on the sport in 2012-2013. Being one of the pioneers drove me towards designing our own foil with a friend of mine in the South of France. The sport was completely quiet and we had no competition. In building and designing those foils we went faster and faster. So people were looking at us and later everyone switched to Airfoil because it was faster, it was more fun and easier to travel with. In 2012 when I began flying kite foil there was no world championship. The first kite foil world championship came around in 2016. We had a tour around the world in 2014 and 2015, but I didn’t manage to win them. A former board kite champion and very good friend of mine took the trophy home. This is basically how I started and became so involved in the sport, that I won basically all the international tournaments since 2016.
Bertrand: So when I saw you in Mauritius winning the races it was part of that first tour? What other countries did you go to then?
Nico: It started in Mexico, then we went to Montpellier (France), San Francisco (USA), Mauritius and we ended in Perth (Australia). And then in 2017, it was Mexico, then France, San Francisco (USA), Mauritius and we ended in Sidney (Australia). So we tried to spread the events all over the planet.
Question: Becoming a champion in kiteboarding - is it the technology or the human abilities?
Nico: Both. We are still finding areas where we can improve the speed. In 2014 it was a big step for everybody because we stopped using tube kites. These were kites being inflated with the pump and therefore had a rigid structure. We jumped to foil kites. They are designed like paraglider sail, are much more aerodynamic and give more power. This made all of us go so much faster. Besides spotless equipment, a champion also needs strong willpower, ambition and definitely trust in his own abilities to control the wind.
Question: Bertrand, probably the same can be said about financial business? Success lies in a combination of the latest technology and human capital, ability to gather and manage a successful team.
Bertrand: Yes, definitely. These principles lie in the foundation of Investors Europe and we still follow them for 18 years of our operations. My vision was to create an environment where clients had the highest level of service, protection and utilized the best trading platforms available. Of course, it is challenging to bring all of these elements together, but our current success is proof that we’re doing everything right. This complete symmetry between achievements in sports and business makes our partnership with Nicolas so strong.
Question: What is your favorite kiting spot in the world? What do you think about kiting in Mauritius?
Nico: Mauritius is for sure a postcard destination and racing here in Mauritius in the Lagoon is absolutely incredible. There are no spot that can beat this scenery.
Question: The question to both of you. What was your main victory by now?
Nico: Well, the main victory is that I found the company interested in helping me with my sport. Investors Europe helped me develop into a professional athlete I am now. To learn different techniques, ways of riding and polish my skills, I have to take part in competitions. All the kiting events are spread around the world and without such support, it would be very difficult to attend them and later, win competitions.
Bertrand: So, we helped you to become a champion? I never thought about it like this. For me you have a clear winner mentality: you are trying to mitigate all your risks and go forward to win. The analogy I can do with myself when I set up the business, I put in place methods to control the risks and strived to grow as fast as I could. And obviously to win you’ve got to survive. We’ve survived since 2001, unlike many other companies. The main takeout for me - control your risks and go for it!
Question: Nico, what are your plans for the post-kiting future? When do you expect to be at the level where you think of retirement?
Nico: I want to push myself as far as I can, of course, but I am studying towards a physiotherapy degree right now. It is important to have a post-career plan and a way to exit your sporting career. Physiotherapy is complementary to the sport, you can work with athletes and this way still be involved in kiteboarding.
Bertrand: Given that you are instrumental in the formation of the sport why cannot you go back after you retire and get involved with the research and development in kiting industry? Everybody knows your skills and values.
Nico: Yes, it is true, I’m already working in this direction, looking to put together my knowledge in kite design and real experience in the sport. Nevertheless, I feel that knowing your body as you a pro-athlete is important. Besides, you can also obtain skills to fix your own injuries.
Question: You have a long term partnership story. Do you think that kitesurfing and trading have anything in common?
Bertrand: I think the parallel is there. In trading if you want to trade and you want to make money long term, you’ve got to control your risk. This is what Nico is doing. He is living to fight another day all the time, the same way as a trader. A good trader, who lives of trading, should be sustainable. He knows how to control his risk and then continues day after day. That is what Nico is doing by winning. And that is the same what a good trader would do, right?
Question: Nico, you’ve mentioned earlier that kiting is a very safe sport. What is the tip from the professional to a newbie who would like to try? The perception is that it is faster and because of that it is more dangerous. You can easily hit your head, fall into the water or hit the fin itself.
Nico: I can draw a comparison with a cyclist go downhill. Of course, if you fall off the road or lose your track, you’re gonna hit hard, but as long as you understand the technique, the mechanics of the sport, you will be alright. I’ve fallen at 80 km/h into the water, but as we are very low to the water, you kind of skimp on top of the water and the kite pulls you up too. You lift your body up and actually you have less impact on the water. It is not as bad as it looks if you know the correct technique.
Bertrand: You make is sounds os easy and safe, but when I’m watching the are it definitely doesn’t look like this.
Question: Bertrand, the question to you. You have founded the local charitable trust “Investors Trust” that focuses on the PET garbage in your local area. What do you think about the current water’s ecological situation? I guess it was not an accident that you chose to sponsor an athlete that competes in the green type of sport where you have zero emissions.
Bertrand: Investors Europe is a socially responsible organization with a proactive position and belief that we can make the world a better place to live. In 2017 I set up Investors Trust for charitable and humanitarian purposes. The Trust initiates significant activities for advancing education and culture, protecting flora and fauna of Mauritius, relieving suffering and poverty in all its forms on a regular basis. We believe that at the core of any successful business is the moral responsibility to give back to the community. At Investors Europe, we lead by example. That’s why we have fully committed to backing one of the world’s leading athletes. Nico’s success helps to underline the importance of keeping the planet clean. I think that he can become an ambassador for this cause in the region. What do you think, Nicolas?
Nico: Yes, for sure. I put great importance on keeping the environment clean. The ocean is my life, so I feel responsible to do what I can to maintain the beach and the water pure. Making the world greener has a very powerful motivation.