| | |

Year of 2023: Life is  a one-time offer live life to your fullest.

2023 embarked on a tumultuous yet inspiring journey, full of chaos and last minute decissions participating in various kitesurfing disciplines, world cups, encountering personal challenges that tested resilience, determination and perseverance. The year 2023 comes to an end pretty soon (at the moment of writing this). And got me thinking where did the year go? It goes from the car accident last year to losing a family member now. And in between I rushed through some competitions, qualifications and trainings. It feels like in a blink of an eye the year is over. A year with one big lesson:

Life is  a one-time offer live life to your fullest.

In 2023, I didn’t confine myself to a single kitesurfing discipline; instead I embraced the diversity of the sport again this year.  It started all with winning in the Philippines, the freestyle, the foil and race, qualifying the Netherlands for the world beach games (the 2nd ever and my second beach games) in wingfoilracing, the Sailing World Championships in kitefoiling in the Netherlands, finishing the round of texel unoficially as first girl, lots of vanlife and finally learning to wingfoil in the big waves and the first jumping around attempts – I feel like I missed out on this fun the past year. And yet, how much I hated it, I accepted the weight throwing mornings that did make me stronger and helped me in my journey as a professional athlete. This year, I had lots of time on the water foiling and wingfoil racing, the main focus untill the last month of the year….

However, the year of 2023 wasn’t all smooth sailing. I encountered obstacles that tested both physical and emotional resilience. A car accident shook my world, serving as a poignant reminder of life’s fragility – second Christmas day last year – where I was ready to drop everything. I experienced the heartache of losing a beloved family member, a profound loss. Well, and besides that the year was full of windless events, unfair DNF`s, unfair judgements in competing, fights against federations and the frustrating part of needed to be the perfect picture, the newest gear needed, the financial part & the ultimate weight to go fast as a kitefoiler in the Olympic discipline.

Navigating through the challenges & events of 2023:

The car accident.

2023 started for me at the end of 2022. It was Christmas when we got tossed over the road (N203) in a car accident (not our fault – the other driver got a stroke and ended up on our side of the road). I was surprised, the year before I had so many hours on the road, driving to Greece, multiple times to Italy, in the deep snow…. and the road closest by home, an everyday drive… It was one big mess. With the words of the policeman, I still think of every time I see the new light pole along the road. He told me; “last year I stood here, exactly right here, with two dead bodies”.  You guys are lucky – so it is not the first time in my life someone told me that I am lucky,  full of emotion – and I know he is right – I was lucky, once again.

In one moment your entire life can change. For me it was a huge reminder, to appreciate life, enjoy every single moment, tomorrow may never be!  …A wake – up call that there is more in life than competing and medals,  spend time with your loved ones, nothing, no prize, can pay the time you lose back. … But also the confirmation that I made the right choices and decisions to not focus on one discipline anymore, because If I couldn`t do it anymore I would definitely regret it.

Even if I don’t wanted it too, it did impacted the rest of the year and my life I guess. Besides that I drive the road different. If I see people weaving I take my distance, and I watch the other cars more close. But above all I remind myself that I was and am lucky.  More here.

The kitefoiling  & wing foiling

After the Europeans in Greece (read the story here), I was in the right way back into the kitefoiling world. Winning the fleet, having fun, being fast. With my eyes on the worlds in the Netherlands were the Olympic qualification took place (at least the first chance).  I gave it my all – all I had still left. I kept training into the foiling part. But in the back of my head, I had the struggles of not being able to gain the weight needed, doing the continuous investment of having the newest gear needed to be at the top, doing everything alone, the difficult part of subscribing myself as an independent athlete and get the right information, right support, fair judgment made it harder and harder to keep up.

Als the regrets if something happens – will my only memory be the foiling? And is it still fun the way it goes now, do I want to let go of everything for this. Will I keep fighting against this “things” I, instead of my real opponents on the water..?   I mean I love the foiling, I love the training, the part of having a goal and for sure I will always love the competing. I will always push myself to be faster than ever to be better 1% every day.. But I don`t like all “things” around it since the sport became Olympic and that’s a fact. It didn`t made me a nicer person and it didn`t make the sport more fun.

The Philippines

That’s when I made the last minute decision to go to  the Philippines, I should have been back way earlier, but the Olympic kitefoiling discipline kept me in another focus, asking a lot of time. And of course we had the covid thing too. 

So this year, the beginning of the year (yet- I type this story its almost end of the year…) I headed down to the Philippines for the third time ever. I could go somewhere to just foil, train, train and train. I needed a place where I can do it all, back to where I started. And back to the why I started all of this, the fun, to be 1% better every day, enjoy my time on the water again. Somewhere with no opinions. Somewhere competing isn`t only about winning, but also the fun (for the most of the participants at least). It was an easy decision.

The first competition at Sicogon island was as windless as it could be. Read: not enough for a 21m and a hydrofoil. But Cuyo delivered as always, here I could do it all wingfoil, kitefoil, freestyle (first tricks again since forever). Wing around the island. The other competitions (bantayan/Boracay) I won the freestyle and the twintip race (the moment I borrowed the right gear). For the foiling, as a girl I was not allowed to compete with the guys, I went anyway and was leading for quite some races.  After the competitions I visited some other lake caliraya and cagbalette which were perfect for kitefoil racing. Including rounds around islands and some training with the others.  

Rounds around tropical islands are my new thing I guess….


Offcourse I did go back to Norway this year, the Haradangervidda. Endless snowkiting, lots of wind, skiing, crosscountry, tourski, flying of the hills. Walked up scary and amazing hills, something I did before  and now again for the first time. It memorized me how amazing it is to be able to do all of this sports and not just one. Life is so much more than kitefoiling and chasing Olympic goals.  Yet, I couldn`t let it go… a course how to be less competitive ..anyone?

Garda / Allianz regatta the Netherlands

After this I was kind of ready for the kitefoiling again. I had the choice to go to the Allianz Regatta or to do the Wingfoil Europeans and make the qualification for the 2nd  ANOC WORLD Beach Games final. I choose the last. The Allianz Regatta I would do alone (no coach etc.) , without the right kites and foil (read the fastest needed to be at the top). Might be even more frustrating.  Aswell as there were not to many participants and I would love to go to the beach games for the second time after having been there in kitefoiling – no athlete can say that sofar. So I made an unexpected decission and drove the van down, once again to  lake Garda to try to qualify myself for the Anoc World Beach Games.  

Wingfoil Europeans

Unfortunately it was a week without wind, some storms around, but not on the lake. Well, it was perfect for kitefoiling. But in wing foiling we need a bit more than nothing. I only had one wing (5m) and not a really good race set -up, but know that qualifying was about more than the fast gear now (next years it will change more to the high performance rules and yet expensive gear of kitefoiling – I guess, sadly). I finished the long distance -almost- I was so close , I could touch the finish line, but for some reason my foil only wanted to sink and I couldn`t pump it anymore, so I crashed and floated away. A few centimetres before the finish line.  I never made it back… a DNF (did not finish). The one and only result of the whole week…  

The rest of the week the committee did some attempts, I didn’t. I know with a board that sinks and a wing that’s not made for light wind, I would just swim and float around. Well and in the end I was right, no races were done. But by attending and my scores of the last worlds – the 8th place, I made my qualification for the World Beach Games final.  Mission accomplished.

Kitefoil & wingfoil racing/training

After this I know I had two events to prepare for, the wingfoiling beach games and the kitefoiling worlds – both racing.  It was quite hard, to find the right spots for the long mast and learning to wingfoil on the kitefoil. Or to go kitefoiling, safe, alone without too extreme and dangerous conditions. With the seaweeds in the water that stand for hard crashes …. But I managed to train both disciplines anyway. And loved it that I had a focus again.

Round Texel 2023

Yup, this was a case off a later than last minute decision. Those are always the best.. or not..?! I drove the van down to Texel for the round of texel 2023. Here I could practice some more wingfoil racing. Because I qualified the Netherlands for the world beach games. I made it around in 4 hours and 8 minutes as fastest girl, but my organisations tracker got lost so I got a unfair DNF. Beaten by the technology of 2023… something I cannot train for. But proud (thanks to a little reminder of a friend) . A few months before I couldn’t barely wingfoil upwind, gybe or tack. Didn’t know you could hook a wing in to your harness I used the short mast and equipment I still had on this event. After all I made it safe around, in a good time (the only thing I had to do), enjoyed the ride and learned a lot. Read the whole adventure!

Wingfoil, Ronde Om Texel

2nd ANOC World Beach Games.

An event for pre- Olympic sports, the second of all times and it was going to be my second beach games too. I have been to the first ANOC World Beach Games In Doha – Qatar for kitefoiling. Here I also managed to qualify the Netherlands, with the old equipment I had. Which shortly after I qualified the Netherlands for the worlds, but never went (it costed too much money for an independent athlete alone).  Read the doha adventure here .

It was an once in a lifetime opportunity for the second time. Because the Worlds Sailing (kitefoiling) were about to held right after, kitefoiling was replaced with wingfoiling. Since the worlds are in the Netherlands, I saw the possibility to do this events back to back. Unfortunately the event got cancelled last minute.

 Instead of being disappointed, I saw the opportunity to switch from race wing foiling to more freeriding with the wing in the waves, especially in storms were foiling alone isn`t an option. Something I always wanted, but never had the time for.

The Sailing Worlds

In the Netherlands, a once in a lifetime event at home. Never been part of team NL, I never wanted to commit to one thing, I never was the perfect picture, I never trusted the promises after they failed some. Yes I wanted to commit, and I did but not at all costs. I already let a lot go, like the freestyle, big air, the soccer, the skating…So, I never fully stepped into this journey with a team. Since the sport became Olympic strange decisions were made and the kitefoiling scene of the Netherlands broke apart – without any communication, just assumptions from out of the sky. And I didn’t wanted to be seen as that part. I wanted to be seen as Mariska, representing myself, as I am. Yes that time, I did grow, mentally , physically. I learned and I never gave up., kept on husstling.

Meanwhile the level of the kitefoiling also exploded. I am still part of it and that’s amazing. Three years ago I embarked on the Olympic journey (once again). I have been competing this discipline until now.  Without a coach, trainer, just me, myself and I.  And that’s what I did this Worlds again. Qualifying for the Olympics or not. This was the final event I had to do. For the 2024 Olympic Journey, for myself. Not for anybody else. This way I hope to inspre you, that you can do anything if you go for it. I did it on my own, without a team or support.

In the end the Netherlands is qualified, I am not – yet. Never say never. Because I will not quit the kitefoiling discipline forever. Just let it go for the rest of the year 2024, after that we will see. I think, I can be proud of what I have reached into this dicipline; Competing with the top of the world, being on top of the world. And yet something that I understand, but also not: the Olympic system. Only one athlete per country can go, a country on the last place can go and you standing way above not. I think the Worlds is the highest reachable competition and the Olympics the most prestigious.

So for 2024 it is done.. but you never know. We still have 2028 and  I am not done – yet! 😊

After this we still have the Kitefoil – Europeans in 2024, the worlds in 2024. And even though I have earned my spot, qualyfied myself. I think I will not even fight any more for anyone who can subscribe me. The fun is gone. After rushing through so many competitions, fights and qualifications the past years.


Read the whole decission: Is it time to set sail in a new direction?

Wing  & Waves

The biggest waves wingfoil and biggest smile since the whole year, half way jumping my 360 (or whatever that trick is called). From too scared for the shore breaks to fighting half an hour to get out and ride the waves of life, playing with the elements. Connecting the turns and riding broken/unbroken waves. I never thought I would experience this feeling ever in my  life (nobody thought) and that I would learn to surf the waves like this, to play with them – instead of fight. When I started wingfoiling and never had time, or always broke/lost something – I thought it was not my sport.  And with all the ropes… If I was a cat I had lost all my 8 lives left to the wing foiling. This year I can finally say it is worth it!  

An unexpected new world opened up his doors. Thank you Wing foiling! (and wingfoiling friends 😉 )


And then… One of the hardest things in life. Saying goodbye too soon.  The end of the year an apricated family, got taken way to soon.  Our buddy, our example as kids, the one with the cool motorbike, funny, sportive and above all the best – we always looked forward to your visits.  The holidays together, into the ocean,  the: “nothing goes back to the kitchen”, these days – we will remember forever.   

Now it’s time to go, while we all want to hold on. We know it was time deep from the inside.  I still can’t believe it is like that in life – so unfair. A year ago you live life to the fullest and a year later…an unfinished story and I desperately wanted to keep reading, but instead the last chapters got instantly ripped out of the book. You are loved behind words and missed behind measures.   I just can`t believe it, we go one without you, that it all went so quickly.  Best family members stick together and never say goodbye, because goodbyes are forever and that doesn’t exist, but we will miss you for the rest of our lives, until we meet again! Please, say hi to grandpa & grandma for us and enjoy the endless motorbike rides!

No I didn’t go to the beach games, didn’t qualify for the Olympics, collected lot of (un)fair/ windless DNFs this year. Looking back, I did had some amazing adventures, travelled, did the vanlife thing, made new friends, got to know a new discipline, I learned, I won, I had fights, made difficult decisions, got reminded about life’s fragility,  I gave it my all and  stayed who I am. 

 I can be proud of this year and how far I have come! After all qualifying for a second personal world beach games, competing in the world championships, ending in the top of the world, winging around texel, is not nothing. Winning the freestyle in the Philippines and snowkiting Norway once again.

A year of all disciplines, isn`t it crazy..?! 2024 will be different, but not less exciting, I promise, so stay tuned for more: Life is  a one-time offer live life to your fullest.  Enjoy 2024! Thank you all being a small part of my 2023.

And remember: Life is  a one-time offer live life to your fullest!

Vergelijkbare berichten

Eén reactie

Geef een reactie

Het e-mailadres wordt niet gepubliceerd. Vereiste velden zijn gemarkeerd met *