Olympic Ride, Uncategorized

2022 Lepanto Open European Championship, Nafpaktos – Greece

2022 Lepanto Open European Championship, Nafpaktos – Greece

Nothing to lose and all to gain!

Guess what …?!? I drove down to Greece (!);  all the way through Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo…. After a year without kitefoiling, just briefly picked it up again a few weeks before the Europeans. A dusty foil and some far away left behind skills…Not remembering the last competition I did in kitefoiling. Not only the competition I forgot about.. also how to gybe. The first sessions I did this year,  I didn`t gybe – telling you without shame. Crashing the kite and not getting it, and yet in strong wind too scrared to gybe at all… My gear is not ready, I am not ready. But I felt ready to try, to just give it a go and give it my all, all I have and all I can give for now – with the dusty skills still left.

Nothing to lose and all to gain! I do have a lot of competition experience somewhere so why not…dig it out?!  I am participating the kitefoil Europeans again!

And, it is what they say to me at the event side, and they are right; “at least you are here”.  And that`s true I subscribed myself and I am right here, right now, living life and competing. Making the way all on my own. Responsible for my own subscription, van (house-storage-kitchen-lounge-vehicle), gear, performance, financials and all else you can think about. So there we go:

The 2022 Lepanto Open European Championship, Nafpaktos – Greece

After some weeks (3) in Greece, Nafpaktos, Drepano, Paros & Naxos. We made some long days on the foil, did some bridge passing, island visits, racing, line ups, scary launching. And we had fun! Especially with the small kites. Time to subscribe, register the equipment, a practise race and the opening of the event in the old port of Nafpaktos.

The first day of the regatta, race day 1 –  We all got a lovely warning from the Greece government: “Upcoming storm, stay inside, don’t travel if not needed”. Looking outside the window of the van. I  already know enough – seeing the dark sky (as I have never seen before here).

I could hear the skippersmeeting (from out of my bed): “Heavy rain and strong winds are about to arrive in Nafpaktos”. Yep.. and because of this storm we are grounded by the Greece authorities. “That means kiting is illegal today.  No cruising, no training, no racing, no fun?”.  Better safe than sorry. And especially on the difficult launching area we have here; tarmac (some launch pads – nets) and some stones on the way in. So we are grounded by the Greece authorities today.  It felt like a day of great kiting is taken from us, feeling the perfect wind – but having no clue what is behind the hill and what the dark clouds around the hills will bring us.

The only option today is to use the launching area for something different,  a new sport, wingskating! 😊 Which was a lot of fun. We made a track, some heats and did our own race. The whole day the weather didn`t seemed that bad, but in the night it was.  I could experience live from the spot sleeping in the van.

After a rough night with a lot of rain and wind, it seemed nothing happened the second first day of the regatta. It was super light wind, sunny… the girls went in first for 4 races. Difficult conditions, we started with 21m weather. The second race I couldn`t fight it anymore, the tip of my 21m kite folded and I got pulled out of the track just before reaching the upwind mark for the last downwind. I decided straight to change smaller. A bit of work if you are alone, pack one kite, unpack the other one and all in between races; “with a little help from my Greek friends”. I couldn’t even land the 21m without getting pulled over the launching area. Just after I went out again: the wind dropped a bit again (off course). First I had the downwind speed and angle, now it was the other way around, cause the other girls were mostly on the bigger kites and faster downwind. I ended up 11- 14 in my fleet, doing the x2 course (Which means, upwind and downwind  round x2).  Racing was super close and tight.

The moment the girls did a full round of 4 races, the guys had to go in. Right at this moment (offcourse) the wind started to become gusty, which made it hard to land & launch (we went all out with big kites). The guys went in with 23 and some 15 (around the same time we get out) .. it started to become shifty and super gusty, with big differences in wind speed. After two full round of the man. The situation on the shore became a bit scary. It was hard to launch the foil kites, kites flying away, three people holding one, every second it was getting more sketchy and.. the race director called it off for today – no more racing and launching of kites. It was getting to dangerous and wild – you only needed one minute at the beach for that, good decision after all.  To see kites taking off, people running to the far end of the launching area, flying kites everywhere…

The fourth day of the regatta – raceday 3, was a hard one.  The guys will go first today, after the girls – if there is time left (read; daylight and wind). The guys are behind in number of qualifying races, so they have to catch up some races.   Meanwhile the rain is passing in the morning, they (the machines) are fixing more space in the launching area.. to avoid the hectic day we had before and have a little more space to launch.

7 hours (!) later after the skippersmeeting, we (the girls), could do some stunning sunset racing. Two more races before the light wind became too light.. I went out with the 15m but after one race it became too light but, no time to change this race.  Just have to deal with it. We made it back on shore just before the wind died of completely. And with this the qualifiers are done. 

The fifth day was a looooong day again. We were waiting for the wind forever. It came and it dropped, it picked up and it dropped below the average of 6 (!) knots. Today we race in the bronze, silver and gold fleet. I became 29 so just not good enough for the goldfleet. Silverfleet it is once again! Good to know I am still on the same spot , balancing on the edge of silver and gold. Without a lot of  training.  First the both (man and woman) goldfleets had to race. It took super long before the wind became a little stable and after some races in the goldfleet, the wind died. There was no more day and wind left to finish the gold fleet races. Not even think about starting with the rest of the fleets.

The sixth day  the wind was perfectly ………offshore. Gusty on the beach, hard to make it outside through the stones, without breaking the foil or crashing the kite. After the gold fleet had some decent racing in good wind, the rest of the fleets was send out. I made it just on time,  straight into the race, perfect start – not touching the watch. The first race we had a lot of wind which was good, because we all went on 15meters.  You can guess already;  the other races it became gusty, shifty again. A bit of pumping was involved (because we all went out on the kites based on the wind of the race before – and no time or chance to change with the offshore conditions). After all, I found myself leading the fleet some parts of the race. Battling it out with just the three of us at the front of the fleet was fun. Ending up second and third.. without even thinking about the tactical decisions ( – my bad). And forgetting we did B2 after the whole week of a X2 course. That means a reach (straight ahead) before going downwind.  Note to self; check the start boat to see what track we are actually doing, before racing starts (how could I forget..). Well, it wouldn`t be me if I didn`t had a strange move in between…The last race involved some double tacking but it didn`t harm the outcome: 2nd 3rd 2nd and 3rd.  After our races we had a hard time coming back to the shore in this offshore conditions.

A formula kite competition without a wet kite wouldn`t be a competition right..? So just before I made it to the shore.. (I was still figuring out how to..? do that without crashing all into the stones) I dropped my kite in the water. Well, I have to practise my self-rescue at times too. Good thing I ended up on the beach with a nice place to dry and a shower 😉

The Last day of this regatta is all about the finals. The top 10 men an woman do the medal series and the rest of the participants do one last race – which counts double. So don`t you dare to leave! BUT it wouldn`t be Nafpaktos if the wind was strong again and … except the final riders, the rest got released (means set free for the day – no last race). Because launching a 100 kites in this conditions doesn’t make any sense for one last race. Too dangerous, and they were right. For watching the finals a perfect day!

Congratz to Max & Lauriane for winning the European title of 2022!! See you all the next season. For me it was the last foiling competition of the year, since the Netherlands didn`t use all the spots we had for the Worlds. They just got one spot and none for the Europeans. Here I could register myself, because the Netherlands was missing as country, for the Worlds I need to go on the waiting list – hoping for someone not showing up or being injured. That`s not something for me. Wish you all the best of luck and a lot of fun at the Worlds!

I could definitely say I had a great time in Greece! Seeinng the islands, training with all different groups, the rush of competing again. Bringing my van all the way round – going back by boat through venice (33 hours) and the fernpass once again this year (7th time). Thanks for racing and everyone for being my anqour in the strong wind, foil bringer whenever needed, kite catcher, kite launcher, you’re the Best!  😊

“Nothing to lose and all to gain!

Mariska Wildenberg

More about Kitefoiling & the olympics here!

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Olympic Ride, Uncategorized

The Formula Kite World Championships 2021 – Torre Grande – Sardinia, Italy

The Formula Kite World Championships 2021 – Torre Grande – Sardinia, Italy

No Team, No Coach, No Sticker… worked the 6 weeks before every day… didn`t really foil and before that I have flown so many different kites and bars I couldn`t even find the right laylines and mark roundings. Sheezz.. I was not ready for this one. This might be my most unprepared competition ever. Rocking – up at the measurements with no nationality sticker (yep the big round NED sticker on front of the board…), knowing I put the numbers of my wings the other way and I didn`t proof my membership to the federation. Still have to fix a bar with shorter lines than 15m.. with a depower that actually works. Sanding the uneven corners of my foil, hoping it will be just fine. Figuring out the watch on my way to the starting line, just after the first buzzer already.  With literally skipping all events before… We decided to make it kind of a holiday on this island: Sardinia. 

 Well, it is just like two years ago when I went for my first time to a world championship, alone. Also on something like a holiday.  Yet two years later I am still alone, but with a bit more knowledge about myself, the equipment and the kitefoiling. A little better skills and compared in equipment… actually still the same (this time I didn`t had to borrow it) – but still behind on the newest bridles, the not damaged foil and the bar that actually works more than just fine. Like the Olympic cycle changed nothing, but nothing less is true. And actually there is changed a lot, in culture of people and countries (not only in the Netherlands). There is a Dutch Kitefoil team from the federation. But not for me, cause I am … alone – I guess, finding my own way, paying my own fees, equipment, rescuing myself and fixing my own tactics and strategy, figuring out what when and how. Getting rides back from other coaches – when I went on a gusty swimming mission with my 11m.. is the way I have to make it work.

It was the first worlds again since 2 years! I can`t even clearly remember 2 years ago. And in these two years happened a lot. A broken arm, sprained ankle, scary on the edge wing missions, a decision to no foiling, achieving a second master, covid 19 and its consequences, the injections and it`s outcomes… made it all harder for me than it should be. Anyway I made it racing out here on my own which is way more important.  What doesn`t kill you makes you stronger is it..?! So there we go, promising only one thing when going here – have fun! No matter, whatever… enjoy 😊 So that’s exactly what I did.

The Worlds 2021:  138 athletes, 89 man and 49 woman from 34 counties:  back on track battling for the formula kite world title of the man and woman`s individual after a two years break because of the whole covid situation (still not every country could make it – sadly). It’s the first World Championship of the Olympic cycle in which kitefoiling (kiteboarding ) will make its debut in 2024 – Paris.

The men are divided into three fleets and the woman in two fleets. The first three days will be qualifying, the fourth day separate gold, silver & bronze fleets and the last day will be the medal series for the top 12 guys and girls to decide the champions in a smaller final. In the final the top 4 will races against each other dividing the final points to be crowned as the World Champion of 2021.

First day of qualifying, filled with difficult wind. The first fleet of the girls managed to do one race in light conditions, the second fleet got stuck in wind holes around the top mark ending in a swimming party for most of the girls. I was the lucky one (of a few) with a 21m instead of a 15m and  a gust at the top mark to make it in dry. In the late afternoon after the rain shower the wind showed up again and the two girls fleets are send out for some epic sunset racing, doing three races each.  I already called it a day…

               For me that was like forever ago, I had to figure out the starting sequence again…5 minutes..?? 3 minutes..?? which flag again..?? The first two races I folded my tip for some reason in the upwind in a little gust. I had a lot of difficulties holding it and keeping it upwind to the next maneuver to unfold again.  Even though I managed to get 10/9/11th in the races. Losing some places through my own (and the kite). The last race I crashed a tack, had to dubble tack and I hit something on the top mark, so that was a late finish. But I had fun racing and figuring out the track again with the 21m. 

Second day of qualifying, it`s time for some offshore adventures. Yesterday the guys were happy the girls got out first to swim… but today we could watch them struggle to go outside before we had to face the exact same challenge. After four full rounds off the man, which looked pretty perfect from the side, but we did know better, the girls were send out.

Really big wind holes and even bigger wind gusts. To get out it was a throw your board in the water and shoot yourself after it with your kite until more windy areas – start and not come back to shore before you finish racing – pretty good tactic I would say, as it worked out just fine.

The first race the last round downwind I made it 6th but, I crashed my gybe into a full gust and inverted my 11m kite few times, flew behind it, did some rolls, saw some stars, found my board back, said hello to the rescue boat and got back up eventually slowly finished the race.  Managed to not get last and had to go straight for the other one, I did a bit more carefully– to get some decent finishes. Avoided some tangles and crashes.  The wind was all over the place, I tried everything. Sometimes pumping with the 11 and sometimes I got pulled out of my foodstraps with the 11m.  But I guess I like challenges and I like this weather. I had a lot of fun.  Although it was a loooong time ago I launched the 11m..  I really enjoyed racing in it, difficult but fun. Figuring out my own way, trying my own tactics – I never had time to think about it actually. Got  Trying different starts, got some decent downwind speed and some awesome overtaking reaches, still have some work left in my upwind though. (I knew already before coming here).  So one 20th finish and the rest some 11/ 12 / 13th – without any risk.

Third day of qualifying,  it is easier to go outside with the wind being a  bit easier, slightly more side off. But still it was hard to see how strong the wind was  all the way out there. I took the 15m for Three races and it was just fine. I ended up around the 10th places again.

               The second session I launched my 15m again, it wasn’t that windy earlier, with being in the first fleet there wasn`t that much time left. When I made it out to the starting line I realized pretty quick it was wayyyyyyyy to much! And with the girls heats going back to back no time to change so it was holding onto my kite, praying the gusts didn`t took to long.  Doing a salto over the reach the first race and some overtaking downwind, the second race I did the upwind almost twice, being dragged downwind in the upwind trying to hold my edge, but in need of more depower than I have – it dint worked that well. Depowered and upwind reaching and a new personal  record downwind slalom. Not my best finishes ever…

Gold & Silver day

Before coming here I was already prepared to chill in silver and rest my case. But anyhow, surprisingly,  I just not made it into the goldfleet after three days of qualifying. But did enjoy some silverfleet racing where I ended up 3rd in the fleet.

After the gold fleets, the silver got to race the last races. In a light breeze, slightly offshore we made 3 races with the 21m.  The first race I collapsed my tip again… the second one I did a salto again down the reach, so I enjoyed some downwind overtaking. Trying to stay out of trouble and make my rounds. The third race I just finished, losing ground upwind, winning ground downwind.

Finals and medal racing day

On shore breeze of 8- 11 knots on the final day. The first races are for the goldfeet top 14 girls and guys. The first two from the overall score are already into the final medal races. The feet is divided into two groups, each fleet gets to do two races. The one ending up first will go to the final. In the final will be raced with group of 4. The 4 will battle it out for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. One final for the woman and one for the man. The course will be slightly shorter and faster. The overall ranking from the qualifying days and the gold fleet day is taken in account when dividing the last points. The one whoever wins the race and got the most points wins.  If you did a great job into the qualifying days you only need to win one race to become the world champ (like Daniela). With the guys it took a bit longer and seemed a bit more exciting. Closer to shore (but more difficult for the rider out there with the light winds and changing win d fields). They did a great job and gave a nice show.

After all: I can be happy I finished all races, no tangles and didn`t miss any mark, o time for every start and choose my own place. Raced my own race and tried different ways possible. Managed to be racing out here on my own and had fun!

Congratzz to Daniela and Theo for being the 2021 world champions!! Thanks for some great racing again and see you all the next one!

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Chase Life & Dreams, Olympic Ride, Uncategorized

My fulltime job times 3

That’s my life and I am proudly living it: my Fulltime Job times 3

If it was easy everyone could do it: my Fulltime Job ^3.  Topsport is a fulltime job in a fulltime working job in a fulltime student job.

yet sometimes I’m wondering more and more if it’s getting in the way of my performance. But yes, I also have to live. ”

 It ain`t easy to get to the top as a sporter in The Netherlands – I faced that challenge the past years for the second time in my life (and also not in any other country I can imagine and I have experienced). Topsport is a fulltime job in a fulltime job  in a fulltime student job, for most of the sporters out there (it`s my fulltime Job ^3 ). Especially for the ones which don’t have a commercial team or have financial support from a sport association or ….rich parents/boyfriends/family members.

We have to earn every cent we spend ourselves. We don’t have big sponsors, loads of price money (- only for the best once’s – but to get there..), investors  who pay our travels, our expenses, our daily life, university, our subscription fees, accommodation, trainings, trainers, equipment. Just if you are lucky enough a part of your gear you can get with a small discount.  You got to be a teamrider for a brand – which is fun and will help you a bit. I am super thankful that F- One supports me already for the past two years in all disciplines I can ask for.

But than …how higher the level gets, how more expensive it gets, the more you have to train, the more competitions.  The more difficult the material gets and the deals.  A higher level means closer differences in equipment.. and maybe just not the gear you are riding with an the brand you ride for. Sometimes the choices are hard – or actually all the time.  Competition with old gear, fighting, struggling or buy new gear and stay at home – work or train. Train and don’t have anything left over or save and survive the winter at home and participate that competition with the same skills and equipment. While you know other competitors…that train 6 days a week in the perfect conditions, have the better equipment already. And you can’t work against it anymore, while you got the talent, the skills….

Life is not fair, it’s never been – better get used to it.  Your time will come:  Nothing worth having without fighting for, Mum & Dad always told me. That’s what you always should remember if you ever want to give up!

A lot of people think pretty quickly: ooohh  just a few competitions, a little bit of training on a tropical destination– you should have plenty of time and freedom enough! To work next to it, study and…. no clearly not.

And yet , Sometimes I ask myself what if…?? Is that the best preparation you can have..?


Living at your parents’ home (forever having a room) or that of your boyfriend who are supportive enough to not throw you out – even not when you turn into a rat.. They got your back every single day even though sometimes you won’t see it.  A lot of times you’re home, because your injured or studying, working (not the most social person ever, not that as you want to be at least). But he, they will not complain. Don`t ever take that for granted if you won’t lose them, although sometimes they will help you making the ends meet. Or the friends that stay, even though you hardly ever see them or miss out on their parties, because…. your training, travelling. You really get to know the people around you, who to trust and the real friends who will stay along the way wherever you will end up..The ones you can tell everything and you really trust.


Being my own work/study planner and advisor…Double shifts, nightshifts, cycling to them in the shitty rain, straight after to training – I don`t really mind – I like it actually. The cycling to work is a part of training anyway. Following classes in the train, making exams all over the world – chasing WIFI.  Playing for doctor, stitching myself, personal trainer, besides that I am a  videographer, social media guru, personal cook, and above all I am a professional hustler: always lobbying for the lowest price, the best deals, sleeping in a tent or my van  – trying to manage myself and everything around.  Dragging all boardbags behind my for days, sleeping on the airport. Yes I am a pretty good I “it can always be cheaper” travel agent by now, always the way less travelled and sometimes a bit scary. But guaranteed you get to know a lot of the surrounding, and yourself.  Being my own accountant, bookkeeper to meet all the ends. My own social life manager, what I still suck about, blame the wind. ( I always miss out on the family things, my birthday & celebrate new year / Christmas a lot of time alone in another place and time zone…).  Besides that I am also a repair guy. Splicing lines, glue-ing kites – duck taping the rest and a little epoxy will do the job. Might not be perfect, but it will work.  After all I am also a car mechanic, electrician, plumber and carpenter in training, after converting a van, living in it on long road trips to training locations and competitions. Really cozy with all equipment I can tell you 😉 

Financial & Work

Teaching kitesurfing, coaching foiling, online or at the places I train, taking every job who possibly fit around training, competing all the travelling and university.  No job is below you, if it pays, every penny counts. Sometimes I thought I could work more and more. Than after a few days I was tired on training weeks. That ones I do for nothing than… for a physical training block need to be rested and not full of everything.  That’s where I learned what rest days are about. Sometimes I am an online teacher, some days I clean the dishes, I help people as an bookkeeper / accountant with the financial administration,  other days I serve breakfast or make sure you receive a package the next morning while working the nightshift.  It’s a question I got really often so I made a little story about it here!

Thankful for the ones who took that extra step extra when I couldn`t, because I came straight from that competition, or the times I had to leave early, because I had to make an exam. Or the ones that made it a bit easier, working with a broken arm.  Meanwhile in what I do, I always try to give my best and do whatever I can, whatever I do. Knowing everyone has its own story – and grateful for the respect they have for mine. Thank You!


Its hard to accomplish a degree when you are never there… You got to be creative and social to arrange that.  I managed to get a second master’s degree and I am studying for the postmasters degree – against all odds. So if you there is a will, there is a way to make everything work!  Maybe I am a student forever.. but why hurry! Life is still long enough.


Too make travelling, competing and training on the right places easier, cheaper and affordable. I converted My van to a midget house and kite /surf /skate holiday home. It might not be always the best (rainy, cold days), but its a great way to make it work. Read more about my kitevanlife on this page.

Sponsor deals

Meanwhile, trying to find private sponsor deals, but it’s a hard task. You have to give a lot in return (clinics, presentations – I like it, let that be clear. But on the other side that’s lost time again for work, study .. or the obligatory resting days , training. And sometimes you need to be the top of the world or a pro influencer already. It`s also hard to find a brand that fits and you proudly stand behind.

Once you find a brand, it still needs to work with the other brand or organization. Or the other disciplines you practice. Besides that one little mistake or injury.. and its over again. You’re back at 0 or even less. Sometimes they already want you to be a world champion, the perfect fitness and eat guru, but you need them to get there. It’s a hard juggling game every time again. 

The best is to find independent sponsors, not connected to the equipment brands, but these ones are hard in a sport (discipline) that’s still a bit unknown.  But worth it, to be part the first generation of Olympic kitefoilers and inspire the future – together with the brands I already teamed up with!

Shop & blogs & Donate

Being a pro athlete, trying to fund myself, I started my own webshop with a little help from my family. Rised out of travel memories, to connect with friends and never forget each other. Inspired by the ocean & handmade. Meanwhile I am writing blogs to inspire you to follow your dreams, chase the things in life worth living for! And for everyone out there who wants to follow my journey in the Topsport, in life, on the road and in the world. 


Can I tell you something just between you and me? “yes, yet I’m wondering more and more if it’s getting in the way of my performance. But yes, I also have to live. ”

And yet , Sometimes I ask myself what if…?? Is that the best preparation you can have..?

Driving 24 hours straight to the competition area after a working shift – with a quick pit stop for an online exam. Sleeping in a tent or on the couch in the cold rainy weather on an airbed trying find the right position to sleep, the tent right into your face in between your boardbags – nice and cozy…What if I slept in a better place? without people around, without snoring people, without all the lights and noise around,  the garbage truck passing by in the middle of the night, I know with more rest and focus everything will be better.

While I am pumping my airbed – in the middle of the night.. the seconds on the clock are ticking, the competition is coming closer….While I am staring at the sealing and listening to my snoring neighbor and 4 sleeping people in my room.. I think about tomorrow.….nothing is less true. Without closing even one eye – I am at the starting line. And there I have to do it. No matter where  I came from or what I did – this is it:

That’s my life and I am proudly living it!


Thank you guys for thinking with me in hard situations, sharing incredible moments ups & downs, working with me, supporting me everything (even if it might be a “little” crazy), celebrating Christmas, sharing  rooms, floors, tens, stories, secrets, dinners, moving in the middle of the night because we got soaked of the rain, sunsets, sunrises moments, way to long and scary boat rides, being a family away from home, being a part of my journey, let me forget I am alone in this craziness … For believing in me even though I didn`t in myself some moments. That makes you realize to appreciate what you have, all small things, to be excited about what you want. I will never forget you! Just like the nice team members at work, helping me out. Giving me the easier place so I could train afterwards, even though I am just a number. For the study groups and teachers, being helpful and patient. Grateful to have my awesome family back home – for always being there for me!

I know it’s not always the best way, but it took me already where I am now. Wining competitions, training, qualifying the Netherlands for the world beach games, winning snow worldcups, freestyle tours, big air. Fighting for every place and moment. These memories, no one ever takes from me – coming this far by my own. Nothing worth having without fighting for. Mum & Dad always told me.

That’s my life and I am proudly living it. And yes that is the best preparation I can ever have! . After all the complete package is not something you just do.  That’s Topsport, my life, my fulltime job^3. No days off. But 99% I think you have a choice! I choose this life 100% and I am proudly living it!

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Olympic Ride, Uncategorized

Individual Kitefoiling Olympic – Paris 2024… Now What..?

Individual Kitefoiling Olympic – Paris 2024… Now What..?

So that just happened a few weeks / months ago, the long awaited moment arrived:  Individual Kitefoil racing became Olympic!  So now what?  No team event anymore, two medals: one for the woman and one for the man. Now What?

En route to Paris 2024..!?

Well it went like this:

In December 2020 the IOC (international Olympic committee) confirmed the program of the Olympic games in 2024 in Paris – including mixed kitefoiling. That means a woman and a man from the same nationality had to compete as a team (only one medal available that time), some kind of parkour with a changeover in the middle – which is kind of hard in the middle of the water. Kitefoiling never competed in a team discipline, kitefoil racing is and was an individual sport. Some different opinions where about this “thing, as well as the IOC advised the world sailing to further review the mixed offshore sailing that time. The IOC was dealing with some challenges regarding the offshore sailing. In the areas of field of play security, scope and complexity, the complexity and cost of broadcasting.

While the final IOC assessment of the mixed offshore event continued, the world sailing is already requested to come up with alternative event proposals for the 10th medal at the Paris 2024 Olympic games….. One of these proposals is an extra medal for kitefoiling, so it can be individual – as it should be.

The moment we all have been waiting for:

In may 2021 the delighting news came that The world sailing selects individual men`s and woman`s kitefoiling events as preferred alternative for Paris 2024. One step closer.

Short after, the 10th of june 2021 the IOC confirms two medals in kitefoiling (kiteboarding/formula kite) for the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing competition: Individual woman`s and individual men`s.

In the words of David Graham, Chief Executive Officer –

“Men’s and Women’s Kiteboarding will bring huge opportunities in terms of universality, developing women’s sailing and the media appeal of these exciting events.”

So now what?

Although the team event gave the kitefoiling some new perspectives and challenges. A different kind of competition, with surprising scores and close short track action.  I had a great time at the mixed relay in Austria – it was something different and fun. After all,  I am happy with the decision for the individual medals in the Kitefoil racing. This comes closer to the whole picture of Kitefoil racing and supports not only the sport, the opportunity for individual athletes,  but also woman’s sailing as it is.  Because Kitefoil racing is big fleets, full of action, flying around the course, battling each other and try to be the fastest & most skillful sailor out there.  More about what the heck kitefoiling is: link  (* still also with the mixed relay).

Although the Olympic part also brought some strange decisions in countries, some inequality in countries, in case of support, training , coaching, help and sponsoring:

Its time for the first generation of kitefoilers worldwide  to show what is possible and to go out there and build something for the future. Promote the kite foil racing and have some fun no – matter what!  Excited to see the journey ahead! Lets goooooow

What the heck is kitefoiling..?? read more here!

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The 2020 Formula Kite Mixed Team Relay Europeans

” Experience can`t be learned and every experience is worth having!”

Last week, the 15th -20th of September 2020 The Formula Kite Mixed Team Relay Europeans took place. It was the first dedicated event in the 2024 Olympic racing format. One format – 20 team – existing out of one man and one woman –  9 nations all together at one lake: The Traunsee in Austria. Might be even one of the last events for the European winter time. Well, I have to admit I have never been in Austria in summer time. Austria proofed itself to be a nice kitefoiling scene and a perfect summer destination – although it wasn’t that warm on the water all days.  

The format is mixed team relay so that means one man and one woman from the same nationality form a team. Together with Sven as team buddy and Casper as the coach we travelled to Austria to discover this new Olympic racing format and squeeze some points in for the Netherlands in this European Championship.   

It is our very first team relay (besides a little try-out the day before we left from the 2nd stop of the Kitefoilcupholland). Personally,  I have seen different try outs last year on the individual formula kite worlds and the Europeans. Unfortunately I could never participate, by than I was alone and without a team or coach. Super stoked that since last year Kitefoilteamnl started. It’s a trainings group formed by fanatic kitefoilers of the Netherlands with Casper Bouman as our coach. Everything is super new for all of us and the level of the competition was super high.  Each event the level is rising and big steps are taken – That I know already! Especially when knowing the sport will be in the Olympics of 2024, all countries are forming teams and finding ways to train and develop themselves to be the best. That’s exactly  the reason we give the European team relay a GO. Didn`t expect anything, we had no idea what to expect anyway! We have to start somewhere so this journey will be one big experience for all of us. Bringing home more knowledge that we can use to grow our skills and  rise the level within our team so we grow together and pass the knowledge on to next generations. All with the goal to reach the top level and compete international. Besides that, this event we set the focus on our own small goals, be better than the day before. Have fun, make mistakes and learn.

The competition:

The first days Lake Traunsee delivered some perfect, sunny  18m weather! We had a little tour around the lake, enjoying the nice surrounding and views from the water. In Holland we only see the water, dunes or the beach – no mountains indeed our country is flat as a pancake. Also the past weeks we had strong wind and waves back home. And now? Amazed by how flat the water can be! 

The first two days are super difficult for us – but we did learn every race. We will compete in fleets of 6 teams, back to back -3 fleets. The first day the men start the second day the woman starts. Changeover is a swimming relay – from the water. The last finishing team member that is what counts for the score. The day the competition started the weather decided to be a bit difficult. The locals promised us if there are no clouds there will be wind later on – the thermal breeze will kick in – sure thing. But if there are clouds… We played a little waiting game before the AP suddenly went down.  We managed to do 2 races before the wind died off again. Some parts of the course had a lot of wind while suddenly in the other end the wind disappeared. Luckily everyone struggled a bit into this conditions – blame the clouds.

Second day, again the wind has been on and off, super light and strange. Some moments nothing at all, while some moments it was perfect. In between the AP sends us back to the beach or again out on the water.  A big challenge already started early on the beach not to fly away starting my kite at the little grass launch area (thanks to the English coach holding my feet on the ground)- not to get tangled – end up swimming before even starting the race. The light wind conditions were difficult -but for everyone. As well as the course is super short and with a lot of movements – so no mistakes allowed.  

Story of these days: I made a super light wind tack and crashed the easy gybe after… missed out on the finish mark but luckily or not my teambuddy was already swimming in the light wind of the changeover area. That all happens, without mistakes we never learn.  This day our focus was related to the starts and change overs. To make them perfectly on time – which is totally not that easy as it looks like.  As well as doing these simple things good – no matter the conditions.  And that’s where we did a good job in the last 4 races of the day. Showing we grow in the event.

The third & fourth day

Qualification series are done and the fleet will split up into gold, silver and bronze. Ups and downs for everyone the past days. From this day we had to race in the bronze fleet and try to make our way up as far as we can. Focusing on that changeover and the first starts. As well as staying out of trouble.  Some fun and close racing we had in this fleet. Happy with the progress we made and making up for the first days. Getting to know the format and getting used to the track with the gybes and laylines. Starting to understand what is important and seeing what we can improve to get the best out of ourselves.  Work on our technical skill,  time/ distance management . And also starting to get used to the foil and the kites everyday a bit more. We took every race as a new begin and went for it. The only down point might be the waiting time on the water – which is a bit long and the spot not that big.

Final day

Called: Super Sunday. It’s the day of the finals. We unfortunately didn’t made it to the top 2 in our fleet to get a change to race the finals. But we did our best and learned a lot! We had one last race today, with the 15ms –finally. This day we finally could decide who started first and who second. We mixed it up a bit to have some fun – Ending up 17th  overall. 

That’s it for us now it`s time to watch the exciting finals & have some fun ourselves after – this lake is to enjoy after all! J Thanks for racing and showing us ow its done sometimes. Congratz to Connor and Ellie of the British team winning the final and becoming European champions 2020!

A lot learned and a lot to learn

The format is exciting – fast and fun. I like the part of the changeover and that it is a team relay. The short course is fun and technical and makes it exciting especially when its super close racing at the bottom marks. It took me some time to find my way through this format and to focus on the things needed. I had to make some mistakes to learn that.  What I enjoyed too is that it`s bringing up another level of game play and strategy. From not knowing what to do and what to expect to developing more knowledge and skills. The last days I started to get it, had more fun racing and now I am even more motivated for what’s coming the next events! 

Glad we managed to go to this event at least with one team and bringing home a loooooooot of good experience to share with the rest of kitefoilteamnl. ” Experience can`t be learned and every experience is worth having!”. We are not there yet but closer every day! And I believe as a team together we can do this and rise the level of the kitefoiling in The Netherlands.  So we can participate and represent the Dutch with more teams next time! 

Get to know more about kitefoiling and kitefoilteamNLWhat is kitefoiling? My kitefoiling adventure

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What is kitefoiling

*Note that not long after writing this article: Olympic kitefoil racing became individual. Two medals one for man & one for woman. (see the other blog about the Olympic individual kitefoil racing)

What is kitefoiling?

When mentioning its perfect kitefoil weather.. Or having an awesome foil session in 10 knots. Yet, sometimes I still get dazzled eyes asking what the heck is hydrofoiling / kitefoiling?!

It’s just another new generation of kitesurfers flying over the water like Aladdin on his carpet… their very own magic carpet. These days Kitefoilen /hydrofoiling / kitefoiling has reached the tipping point. With loads of new people entering the world of floating above the water in silent speed and no chop.  What once began as a bit of a fad for the people looking for something different, or – no offence – something for the older people – it has now become a mainstream attraction for young and old. All over the world.

Might be because one of the biggest benefits is that you can comfortably ride in light wind conditions – which where before better known as no wind conditions. Kitefoiling or hydrofoiling does not require a lot of wind, which makes it very popular in light wind areas or on light wind days. But in decent wind it can be fun to. Kitefoiling is not only limited to racing, and flying in silence above the water. No, jumping, handle passes, riding waves…….  With a hydrofoil..??

So yes, A hydrofoil is a surfboard with a wing attached to a mast underneath the surfboard. When generating enough speed on the water, the wing has the ability to lift you and your board out of the water. Bit like an airplane. This decreases drag by a huge amount as your board is not touching the water anymore, giving you the sensation of flying over the water. Yep like…… Aladin. It is something complete new and different than kiteboarding in general. Furthermore, there is no sound! You’ll ride in absolute blissfulness as you’re not affected by the chop of the water anymore. Sounds nice right? or to good to be true..?

Kitefoil racing

Now with the rise of the hydrofoil, it’s allowed kitefoil racing to become a well-regarded international sailing sport, so much so that it’s been accepted into the Olympics of 2024. And the Worlds in Scheveningen, the Netherlands – 2022. With the hydrofoil, the racing side of the sport has been taken to new heights. For now, being the fastest sailing craft around a course, other than an Americans Cup boats, it makes for some pretty exciting scenes – both for the spectator and participant!  Speeds of more than 65 km/hour are reached.

Kitefoil racing implements his racing events like a yacht or sailing race along a course, that involves both speed and tactics. Boards with hydrofoils  & foil kites are the equipment to race on. The goal is to outperform other kiters and come first in the race – the fastest and smartest.

Formula kite – Olympic discipline

This is the high performance hydrofoil class, using regulated registered series equipment. The equipment is selected by the world sailing As kiteboarding equipment for the Olympic event in 2024.  The format will be mixed team relay. But also the individual Europeans and the worlds are under this discipline.

Kitefoil World Series – Pro Tour

This is a full development class, an open class – with minimum equipment regulations. Here the newest developed hydrofoils & foil kites are allowed to be used and tested among the other equipment.

Kitefoil Mixed team relay – Olympic format

For the Olympic format and all competitions related to formula kite. Kitefoil Racers are allowed to register one hydrofoil and up to four foil kites for use at the games or any other formula kite event – you can register every event again. Both men and women will be able to use kites from 7 to 25 meters and will race in anything from 5 to 40 knots, depending on the water/weather conditions.  The equipment that racers can register will be decided upon by World Sailing every three years rather than all competitors being bound to a ‘one design’ system in which they would have to race on identical equipment made by one manufacturer. Instead, providing they stick within the guidelines, so all riders will be able to fine-tune their quiver and to suit their own  riding style, bodyweight and personal preferences just as they’re allowed to in other Olympic sports like snowboarding and skiing as well.

The kitefoil mixed team relay will be a short track on a short windward / leeward course. The team should consist out of one man and one woman from the same nationality. The team members will be covering  alternating laps with a changeover zone. But there are some more suggested other options of race formats to test. Competition will most likely consist of an opening series of heats. A knockout stage or other form of final in which the winner of that last race wins the event.

Overall it is  expected that races will last in the region of 10 minutes for 3-4 laps of the course. This Olympic mixed team relay for the kitefoilers will the first time a relay format of this type has appeared in any Olympic sailing discipline. It would no doubt be an engaging one to watch. With the hope of World Sailing and the International Olympic Committee is that the massive wind range that foil racers are able to compete in will guarantee some spectacular racing for everyone!

Winning at the Olympics will be about being the fastest racer, not the best equipped racer!

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Formula Kite Series Spain 2020 Alarcón & Castellón

The Formula Kite Series Spain, the first two stops took place in Alarcón & Castellón from the 10th of jully until 21st of july

Beaches are opening, cities around the world might slowly be coming back to life (except for some trying to break the world record of lockdown ). But then I realized, there’s no going back to “normal”. The world changed, things changed, families changed and so did we. Everything is different. But the formula kite Spain found a way to host the events anyway. On a safe and responsible manner. It just asks some discipline from the people around.

There is no going back to normal I already did know that – some weeks & months ago. But, luckily for us there is a going back to the water, going back to competing a bit! And for me a going back to the water and foiling after a way too long break with breaking my arm- sliding some rail on skates …. And 4 months without kiting -oops.

Yes, not that much training, but a good way to go and jump back into some competitions again – I thought at least. And convinced by Jis, training buddy and also part of kitefoilteamnl we made ourselves (as far as possible) ready to go!

Sooo yep, the past two weeks have been all about the Formula kite Series in Spain. First in Alarcón & second in Castellón.  Representing the Dutch    I must say it was a bit weird travelling in this time and wearing the mouth mask. Something I really had to get used to – thought I wouldn`t survive that. Just like thinking what the rules are before entering a shop or an airplane……. Having breakfast with hand gloves, personal sticks and mouth masks.. after showering in disinfection. Its all part of the game now… …  

First destination: Alarcón

Alarcón was an interesting spot. It seemed like in the middle of nowhere, following the gravel roads in between the sunflowers ending at a long blue lake! Surrounded by small mountains and lots of green nature. It actually looked perfect. Great scenery for foiling.  And it was. On the water it was super nice! With the sun the water was bleu. The wind was a little bit of an adventure in between the mountains and the long lake with the wind blowing crosshore.

For the foiling competition the course had to be in the length of the lake. It appeared just wide enough – at some wind shifts it wasn’t? or it made it just more fun playing with the laylines to get it to the mark rounding. Let`s say it was much more interesting racing like this than just making long lines – good for us because now your own skills and plans are getting more important than always having the best and fastest equipment.  Which we don’t have yet, cause it is super expensive….

The kiteschool and organization in Alarcón  made us feel welcome and explained everything about the spot and surroundings.  So the first day we didn’t had the wind, but in the evening a big storm with a lot of rain and thunder. That day it was nice to meet up with some riders again from spain, France, Poland, Rusia. The day after was a super light wind day – as we all know NOT my specialty. But I did enjoy a ride with my 18m. It was hard sometimes, because the wind was super strange – some wind holes and some good wind and sometimes you had to be patient. But anyway we had our first ride and I made it back to the shore without swimming – fun to try the spot.

The weekend after is  the competition. The first day was fun we did 4 races. And we had some “decent “wind. At times it was more than enough and at times I was asking myself if I lost the wind somewhere on the track. It was hard to figure out where the wind was and play with it. Also because sometimes your laylines were just not fitting in the lake. The first race I was a bit confused as usual, just looking what went around. But the second, third and fourth I did know what to do. 4 nice – 15m races J  The next day we did 3 races more and there was still some clouds, thunder and rain around which made it difficult to set up the track and have stable winds.

In the end I finished 3rd  (which they still don’t know at the podium ceremony. Because on the website I was at that moment 4th….) and 15 overall out of 36 competitors.

Next destination:  Castellón

Castellón is a spot on the Spanish coastline. Feels good to see the palm trees and the nice sand again! Here we have been training with some other competitors the days before the next competition over the weekend. The days before the competition we had some challenging wind. And with challenging we mean light wind.. sometimes light wind sometimes nothing. A big challenge for me at least ) and for our older kites to keep them `flying’. The definition of kite washing and titanic are born on this beach. I even had a ride back to the shore behind the other kiter with my kite washed.. thanks – saving me a swim 

 Surprisingly into the competition we had two days of nice wind. The first day started with light wind so we took the bigger kites but after two races.. it was oke and we could already switch to smaller sizes. The races were on the open sea and more making stripes than playing with laylines and tactics. Here the difference in material became more clear and we missed something in the end – speed / angle upwind.  We already did know that, but fighting against it is sometimes difficult. I just started to see it as training – competition – that made it better and I had fun anyway. The second day was a bit sketchy / it seemed not that much but in the first races it was more than enough, the last race became less and .. the 18m decided the last race that it was enough and it dropped out of the sky  – going for a swim – just before the starting line. But I liked this day , searching for wind and challenging conditions.

I ended up 3th / 4th  (which they didn’t know at the podium ceremony. Because on the website I was still 3th….) and 23 overall out of 37 competitors.  Well that made up for the last time 

The scores were not always that clear and on the end of the day a bit mixed up. Well I was not there to win anything , just for fun and to get back on the foil and into competing, before starting to train again in the Netherlands!   Oke and maybe a bit to see the development in the equipment…..with the Olympics in 2024,  the material will be settled for the next upcoming years. But which or what will be the fastest in which conditions…? Or with what rider…? Or… what skills!

We had some awesome weeks, two super good organized events and we met some great people.

You know?  before the foiling and this year I have never been to Spain… Thanks for the Fun & racing Spain, we will return for sure! And being our own travel agent worked out quit well! We arranged everything ourselves: Low – budget and with no mistakes we completed the mission  And brought home some more knowledge for everyone.

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Individual European Championship Formula Kite – Puck, Poland.

Individual European Championship Formula Kite (kitefoilen) – Puck, Poland, better know as seewead party.

Keep hustling & Smile! .. & The story of the last race..?

Let’s start at the beginning where I have to admit, in the first place I really didn’t want to go at all.  I closed the door a bit and had some fun learning how to fly the wing and getting back some freestyle in Germany – while camping with our kites. Far away from all the material and training discussions – conclusions and also on the other hand the positive team vibes. Knowing I missed a lot of training – don’t break your arm while skating guys. But that’s me , that’s how I learn, by doing, messing- up , falling and only than you know how to get back up. Own up what you didn`t do right and if you learn from it, it is an experience – not a mistake. And that’s why I decided to go to the Europeans  anyway. In Spain I had fun but I did know I had to train and adjust a bit, equipment wise and training wise. Just one and a half month back out there. Never flown new kites/ bars. But Hey! Being part of this event will be already a  learning experience as always. – and you have to stay up to date is it? -See how fast everyone is nowadays! and It has been a while since an official event, that made me curious about the riding level and the new gear for the Olympics. Still not everyone could make it and is allowed to travel. According to the right regulations, the international kiteboarding organization did her best and organized an event for us in Europe, Puck – Poland.  Online skippers-meeting and WhatsApp updates are the new common rules.

Day 1:  So definitely I wasn`t  yet the most motivated person – trying (missed the opening and the practice race already  ).  And yep if you see the scoring (some of you did)… I did a bit of a collecting DNC`s party. Not intentionally. Because I wasn’t motivated didn’t mean I started to fight and found the motivation to try to make to most out of the event and out of every day –  after the first starting signal.

Actually the first seaweed race I did pretty well with a 15th place. There was not a moment without half of a tree behind your mast or wings.  Trying to jibe like … crash or just holding on the edge. Burning legs to keep up the foil on the reach – also a strange feeling – the reach never seemed that long and slow.. usually the  most fun part of the race became the most sketchy part of the race.  The second race I ended up…. Wrapping a wet burrito and swimming. One point for the burrito team. Someone decided to fly up the kite without reason… and bump mine inside out in some way. The races after I did  a 17th & 20th place – all day with the 18m. Sounds like a perfect foiling day 

 Day 2:  The next day was kind of the same, starting with the 18m. I had one big struggle to go out, the wind was a bit offshore, the exciting beach to launch, in between the trees with 4 people holding the kite to catch every bit of wind… and you had to be lucky in a gust to sail away. I washed my kite already before the race even started. The wind was super shifty and … I didn’t know what the kite was doing at all. Good thing the race committee had to reset the course. Thanks to the guy in the water helping the soaked kite relaunching. Well better late than never I was just on time for the start of the first race.

The second one I washed my kite once again – it`s pretty clean by now – and my burrito skills are still on point…  It was a bit of an unavoidable tangle after a gybe with squeezed in peoples crashes and other gybe`s. But sometimes you meet new friends out of it – maybe we start the conversation on the beach next time..  J It`s not always going as planned, you just have to keep smiling and move on – let it be.  I did know the routine now and I found the perfect field to dry the kite already yesterday. Thanks to all the camping people who left the campsite during the day….  The next two races the wind did pick up and 15m was perfect. For once I could really race and I had the feeling , just the feeling there was less weed. I just finished the races – no tangles anymore today. Just some kite bumping … seems normal in our fleet nowadays.  And it really was hard to get through and avoid the crashes in between crashes or tangles.  Sometimes a bit like dolphin through the seaweeds over the finish line – around the 17th / 20th place. But I definitely had a smile on my face because it was fun – not sure if I was the only person but… It was a nice day with the 15m – couldn’t get any better compared with the conditions we had. We did had some nice fights downwind and into the finish reach.

Day 3: A Windy day! The third day was a bit more windy, 11m  day – for me at least. This time my kite stayed actually dry until the second race. Achievement!  So…. I could enjoy the break racing for myself J Making the best out of the day. You never know what happens tomorrow. And I made the deal with myself to have fun and enjoy! After the break the wind dropped a bit, I didn’t dare to go back and kept flying with  the 11m . While I saw with a question marked face some 25 meters up in the sky…. Let’s say I just finished the races today. 18th /20th places. Because I lost it a bit in the downwind where I usually win ground. Still we had some nice battles and tangle avoid moments.

Day 4: So now the wind comes from the other direction and we have to launch from another – even smaller beach. People at the dock next to it are looking ….what is happening here… ? at the beach no-wind .. out there…? You never know.

A little fight with the 18m to keep it up into the air and the foil to go out. We managed to do one race, a super strange one – with shifting winds, a loooot of wind and no wind.. missing lay lines all together in the shifts and not so much seeweads. None compared with the past days.  We did almost fly away on the top mark and lost all the wind downwind … On the way aback to the beach in doubt to change for a smaller kite.. the half of the fleet was already swimming. I waited outside till the gust could give me a ride to the beach. No swimming for the 18m this time. Before we could go out again, the rain started and the water became glassy. The races where postponed. Well we tried our best to avoid it .. but the girls had to try one more time getting out there – yes, because it looks so nice out there – heard this joke before… good thing I waited to the very last moment. To not swim in front of the beach. Good choice because the rest of the day, no wind and just rain made it the end for today.

Final day:  The top 14 will fight for the last two spots in the final. The final will be held between the top 4. Whoever wins three takes the title; European Champion (with taken in account the scoring of the days before). This time I could watch, because I didn’t make I through. The rest of the competitors had a last race on the end of the day. To be honest I wasn’t that keen to do the whole dress up party for one race but hey – I felt I had too anyway. So yes, scraping the last bit of motivation together,, coming on the beach and seeing: the struggles to go out, the gusts, some strange ones, kite sizes from 9m to 25m…. Help..? choosing 15m what’s just in between but after feeling that gust – I quickly chickened out and switched to 11… why not another kite on the beach just for one last race .. is what I really thought.

So finally we come to this question:

You know the story of the last race..?? keep hustling & Smile. Or ..?

 Yep –  I never actually made it to the last race…not further than the start. I kept hustling but:

After some struggles (kite falling out of the sky – shooting back up etc.) I got out easily if you compare it with other days. Dry kite, foil still in my hands, not flown away. But on the beach I noticed something wasn’t straight but everyone said noooooo its oke.. I couldn’t  feel it good because of the gusts and the wind – looking at my kite with a face pleaseee stay in the air – pleaaase don’t do anything stupid kite. But soon I noticed… depower shooted through the safety system…or something like that. But now I was outside,  one race I can handle that. (I tried to pull it trough but flew away ,… ) and it was actually already start sequence. 10 meters after the start I hit some plastic and crashed that made everything worse –I couldn’t hold on to the kite.  the not straight flying kite. I did the promised 360 back  to the beach.  So the story of the last race..? yes – another collected DNC. At least I tried and now you all know the story 

I have never been tangling that much, feeling like an attraction (the one you have to pay 0.50 eurocent for at the local supermarket)  bumping every kite – while mowing the lawn.  Keep hustling, keep smiling & Keep sailing that’s what we did! In between the seaweeds , the offshore winds and the bumpy rides and wrapped up kite -burritos. I did it for myself, doing what I love the most – no matter the conditions! So yes It actually couldn’t get any better- at the moment . We had a lot of wind and a lot of races.  Than you Poland you made us appreciate the good days, and water without anything inside!  Nice to meet up again and being able to compete! Now it`s time to train, get faster, organise the right equipment and get ready for more action!!  Congrats to all winners!! Till next time………

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ANOC World Beach Games 2019 – Doha/Qatar

ANOC World Beach Games 2019

10 t/m 16 October in Doha – Qatar. An International beach multi-sport event organized by the Association of National Olympic Committees. While some of the sports appear in the Olympic Games, all events on the program are non-Olympic events meaning there is new opportunities to engage for every country. Around 1240 Athletes from 97 countries, competing in 14 different disciplines: on the beach, in the water and action sports. Kitefoil Racing with its 40 competitors is one of those disciplines.

Kitefoil Racing will take place at Katara beach. We will be racing next to the skyscrapers. Two days of qualifications, one day with the semifinals and the finals (medal races).  By ending high enough on the world ranking after the Worlds in May  2019 I qualified myself  (and so The Netherlands) for this event. Not knowing what it would be, how it worked  or if I would be able to go.  I went back to freestyle and big air after this event. Because it was just the first competition I did in kitefoiling, a spontaneous one,  I never went there with the idea to qualify, just to look around in the racing scene. I already forgot about it. But the Dutch Sports federation (NOC*NSF) didn`t and they asked me if I wanted to go? And there is also place for a coach. Since I always travel alone to competitions and training places for kitesurfing, I had no Idea. Also knowing that the best 20 woman will be there I was a bit in doubt, knowing I still ride the same kites and equipment as before and knowing all of them switched to newer gear. Since it has to be registered.  it’s not that easy, not all brands register all kites. That`s formula kite and the newer the better performance.

But it appeared to be a super cool event with multiple sports, becoming Olympic or not Olympic – yet. Kitesurfing will be in 2024. This event promised to be a complete new experience and adventure for both of us – Katja (coach) and me.  Also it`s a good learning project for us, on the way to more international competitions and to see where we have to work in in the training weekends. That ended in a yes. With Katja as “coach” , former professional racer and still a super skilled kiter and racer.  Well and I have been to many hours at the airport without seeing anything in Qatar.  

No excuses anymore:  10 October we stood in full orange uniform at the airport, together with basketball 3×3, wakeboarding, bouldering and kitesurfing (TeamNL)  ready for check in to Qatar.  

Our Kitefoiling event started with one training day: we didn’t expected any wind. It’s something like 38 degrees outside, the water 30 degrees and the sun is shining whole day.  Surprised with a little breeze (also hot) we went out to discover the water of Qatar.  Which was actually really nice. Consistent wind and more than enough for a 18m, 20m was too big – for me.  This day we had to find out more about the wind, to see which kites I had to register for racing. The next day you have to register, the hydrofoil and 4 kites in different category’s and that are the kites you are allowed to use the whole event.  (4 kites allowed 15m > / 11 t/m 15 / 11m < /9M< ).  This will be inspected and measured.

The qualification days, we raced with all 20 woman together. The first 14 will be qualified for the semifinals.  The first day was a hard day. Not that much wind, a lot of wind holes and even more waiting.  End of the day , it seems to pick up a little… an average of 6 knots. We managed to get one race in. A really difficult,  light wind race, no room for mistakes. It surprised me that I kept the kite dry (oldest one on the water) and finished on time (6 minutes after the first finisher) in a 10th place. Maybe it was the gybe instead of tack technique  .

The next day we had to do as many races as possible ( 6 max.) to finalize the qualifiers. The first two races it was already hard to get out from the beach and to the starting line. This day the wind was also to light for me and my kite…I did finish the races, but too late which results in two did not finish (DNF). After this races we had three more races with light wind but a little better. My goal was to have a good start and to finish in time. That’s what I did and made some scores. Before the last race I went in for my 15m which is smaller but newer and I know I can ride way better with it – since the wind decided to give us a bit more. The start was good and my position at the upwind mark (9) as well. But I just didn’t made it around the mark, I decided to take the risk, because of people coming my way and seeing people not making it. It was just a few millimeters and some distraction of kites super close above me…. I managed to get my foil back , round the mark and finish on time. Not on the pace I wanted …

And that mistake made me missing 3 points to be in the top 14 on my own power.  I know I did everything the first races and it would be difficult with this set-up to end up in the top 14. But after this day, 15th didn’t felt like our place. The next morning after protests (not for me) it turned out I am actually 14th and could race the semifinals.

Semifinals are races of two fleets existing out of 6 woman. The top 2 is already straight in the final. The first on of every fleet will also be in the final. The top 4 will race the medal races. This day the wind was also super light (again). Wind holes everywhere and average of 6 knots (again). I can tell you this 18m never stayed in the air during 5-6-7 knots. And in the Netherlands we have a lot of wind – usually, I hardly ever use a 18m (and this one never in 5 knots). But if the race director says we have to go … we go!

The first race I got stuck and the kite in the water – I just couldn`t get it up and ride upwind. It seemed like a big fight but I won. At least I thought but, my safety line was around the chickenloop, I found out when already riding away. At that point riding away I didn`t even think about starting anymore… I needed some place to fix , I was in front of a dock and a boat. In the water I couldn`t manage it because I was floating away and the kite not really staying in the air at its own. Crashing in front of the dock helped me to fix it. So yes, unfortunately I missed the first race, but I was on time for the next race. Which I finished 6th.

All final results together made me stay 14th. After all a good result, taking in mind the equipment used, experience and  the hours of training done.  I made my first top 10 place ever, raced my first semi-finals with a kite and made it into the top 14 of the world. Which was secretly my goal for this competition (and his year – top 15).  Next to the focus on good starts, preparation/plan and more smart riding – instead of just doing something (that`s used to be more my thing, but in racing not always a good thing – I know).  With the help of Katja coaching me and sharing her own competition experience and knowledge, I learned more than I would ever think off. I start to see it in the field and act to it. This competition it really  felt more like a team result, which I enjoyed. It helped me this competition but for sure even more in the future!

It was a great experience to be part of this event, the Dutch – team, to support the others and to be one of that 20 woman kitefoiling here in Qatar. Racing with skyscrapers on the background, 38 degrees and 30 degrees of the water something you should have done once is it? Definitely worth the yes!

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Olympic Ride, Shred It Till Bed, Uncategorized

Formula Kite World Championships – Italy 2019

For the first time I travelled with just a foil and foilkites to my  first Formula Kite World Championship. Secretly I was not convinced, not yet. Am I good enough? Should I go ? Do I have the right registered gear? I didn’t used them, yet… Is this a good idea? .. The answer to this question, I don’t know, nobody knows. I am the only one who can find that  out. And the only way to find that out is to go, isn`t it?

30th of April – Registration Day  

So  here I am: Lake Garda in Italy. Never thought, there would be any possibility to kite here. Or to be part at something in directions of a world tour and new Olympic discipline…BUT: My name was on the list., all kites are registered, hydrofoil registered, event stickers are done, lycra in my hands, there is no way out anymore:  This week I will be representing the Dutch / and myself during the Formula Kite world Championships at Lake Garda.  In between 31 woman and 90 man from 29 different nations I will be competing.  4 days are reserved for individual racing and 1 day for the mixed team event (Olympic part) that is going to be tested  (means one more training day for me  ).

It’s time to switch over from freestyle, snowkiting to Formula Kite Racing. Learning the rules, flags and the track again before the first day of competing will start. I have been reading that notice board over and over with my question marked face … no square box for the tricks, no points for extreme, turns or high – HELP. What am I going to do? But secretly I know thats my strong point, just jump in it and learn. No time for overthinking – like always. And with the trust of my brothers, my mum & dad, nothing can go wrong is it? Just like the old days in skiing, running, swiming, dancing, soccer, kiting freestyle………………

“Sometimes you win sometimes you learn”

Day 1:  Well, day one was stated as a light wind day. What that means, no idea? 15m? 18m? Because the beach exists out of rocks, is just big enough for three kites (with super short lines – clearly not mine),  the wind is slightly coming from behind the trees, we have to launch with the help of the beach Marshalls and by turn.  This doesn’t make it easy (or even possible) to try out a kite, to  come back land a kite and switch over to another size.  My feeling says it’s not a particular light wind day.. its windy isn’t it? Think I still have to learn something at this point. Where I usually would take the 11m ,  I saw as smallest kite a 15m flying in the sky. That’s one of the advantage of being last: looking what the others do!

Still so many questions , but eventually I have to do it, on the water and racing!  Today there will be individual racing,  races divided into 4 fleets. We will go on the water with two fleets and do two races after each other, than the other two fleets will race.  For the start you have to look at the flags of the start boat really good – here I surprised myself by being on time for every start.  For the woman, we did three races today, which I all rode with the 15m. It was definitely not my best race ever, with a kite I never flew before, a bar /depower  I couldn’t reach  and a foil I used (don`t laugh) literally for 20 minutes.  The first girls were really fast, the rest I could hang on to. I lost it on the details, the longer lines, the quick maneuverers, reading the course……Another learning point of the day.

Day 2:  Is all about testing the future Olympic team race format.  A team of 1 woman and 1 man from the same country will race together as a team.   One track with a change of racer in the middle, along the changing area.  Who is joining me next time?

Day 3 : This day the weather  is not on our side. Right on the moment the first fleet enters the water,  there appears a big rain cloud over the top of the mountain, with some thunder which is making it  impossible to race today.

Day 4:  Didn`t looked like the perfect day but,  surprisingly end of the day there appears a steady light wind out of the right direction. Not much, but enough for racing. Knowing  that with my friend the old(est on the course) 18m it always end up in swimming.. (especially in competition lycra) I am not convinced yet. Just hoping it keeps on flying – this time.

On the water its oke , and I have the advantage that I am not crashing any gybe or tack, can make them with some speed. Today for the first time I enjoyed it out there!  I manage to  win some places and get the feeling I can control myself, the timing of the gybes/tacks, the foil and the foilkites more and more.  Just after the finish of the fourth race, the wind decides to. Yes to stop…luckily I am professional in packing up an 18m foil kite on the water 

In general – today and the whole event- I have been racing pretty constant, around the 18th – 21st place. Without risk, a clean finish. Taking risk can be done later , I know now how its done – another learning point where is a lot to win left .

 Day 5:  This day was one off all, all different weather conditions in one, storm, snow in the mountains, rain, sun , waves, 3 degrees and …….. no racing. It wasn’t safe to go on the water neither to launch a foilkite if there was already any beach left.  Hoping that the wind would be less during the day, we all know that the change is really small – it didn’t happen and that was the end of The  Formula Kite World Championships 2019.   

I did enjoy the first time travelling with just a foil and foilkites  and my first international Formula Kite Competition. It was definitely another new adventure and great experience, racing in between the fastest girls of the world. Launching of the small (!!) gravel, having all kind of weather conditions, seeing complete teams with support boats on the water and a super nice scenery for racing once out there 

Coming here wouldn’t be easy , I know that beforehand, especially not after all the snowkiting and the few days back on the water and the foil.  I also know that I still had (and have) to learn and adjust a lot equipment wise as in the competition itself. Not expecting anything, without any goal I stepped in this competition and ended up as 18th overall. Might be not the result I hoped for, but a very fair result compared with training hour, experience  and  the used equipment. I must say I was a little impressed about the coach boats, support boats, teams around me .Formula Kite is much more than just going upwind and downwind – riding a hydrofoil – a lot of details come with it. Which I still have to find out – sometime and in some way. HELP 

That said, I just found my next goal! Looking forward to climb the ranking and some real training! …. Remind me, next time I should bring a team partner too!  and maybe, just maybe a seat harnesssss…

 THANKS to everyone helping me out – even if it was last – minute! Fixing lines, helmet, boards, borrowing kites, not to forget all the tips and messages  Without YOU guys I wouldn’t have been here in the first place!!  Next will be some more foiling, but … Maybe a little freestyle in the dessert first 🙂

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