Uncategorized, What`s Next #kitevanlife

Are we there – yet..?!  Took the long way ‘round – Driving to Greece.

…….And just like that I was on the road. Asking myself: Are we there – yet..?!  Took the long way ‘round.

Guess what …?!? I drove down to Greece (!); all the way through Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo….Greece, Nafpaktos, Drepano, Paros & Naxos….Venice, Lago di Resia, Lago di Garda and this is how it went:

A journey of in total covered 3750 miles (around 6000km), 6 boat trips, one 33 hours boat ride, mountains, lakes, beaches, crazy roads, mountain passes, incredible views & adventures, new friends met, old friends reunited…. Took the long way ‘round: My longest road trip sofar with the VAN– topped off with an European Championship kitefoil racing, Nafpaktos Greece & World cup/ European Championship Wingfoil racing, Lake Garda  – on the way home!

“Travel is never a matter of money.. but of courage!”

Are we there – yet..?!  We took the long way round, yes we!  Alone I would not have made it all this way. I can only say that I am incredibly proud on this brave basterd of a van. Look at him enjoying his first Greece sunset.. at a front row beach spot watching all the kite action.  He didn`t complain, one big smile all along. He loves the taste of drinks from another country. And the touch of tarmac of different roads, never ending miles, chilln`  on the beach and the sand & salt around. First class views. Explorer the unknown, take side roads and just go.  “Always seeking – never lost”.   He might be a bit moody at the times we had to cross the borders and the police was tickling him. Wondering what we all needed for that one trip… and that sport so called kitesurfing or wingfoiling.  But he stayed patient waiting,  made it and together WE drove down…….. all the way down to Greece.

A journey begins with one single step, the road is there, it will always be there, you just have to decide when to take it. Easy. And just like that I was on the road to…everywhere!  

Well, not exactly everywhere, I mapped out the plan a little bit – with a thin pencil though. There was an important end-point before making the round trip back home. The Europeans of kitefoiling in Nafpaktos, Greece.  I know the road ahead is long as I was going to make it. Read; without toll – roads. So what else than make it worth the trip. So that’s what I did.

“it doesn’t matter how old you get, buying snacks for a road trip should always look like an unsupervised 9-year – old was given 100 euros” : The main reason I love road trips.

Probably my longest road trip so far with the bus (the van).  I took all the d- tours and scientific roads there were on my way, cause I took the not paid roads. I doubted a bit safety wise.  Read: googling in the country itself “is it save to drive through ….alone..?”

They always say; Take the road less travelled. Sometimes the road less travelled, is less travelled for a reason.  

But if I had the choice I would do it again without any hesitation – no regrets . I have seen some amazing scenery’s, new cultures and countries along the way. No regrets. It surprised me, in the positive way. The countries that are so close but – yet so far away and so different than the Netherlands.

Castricum – Germany – Austria – Hungary – Serbia – Kosovo – North Macedonia – Greece  – Italy – the road back Home.

It all started in Castricum – which is no surprise.  The Van came back from his yearly trip to the resort of mechanics, with some extra care. After a long weekend of rest and recharging he was more than ready to fill up with all kite, foil, wing, surf, skate, cycle & camp gear – a last Dutch drink at the gas station: Ready for our longest road trip together – sofar.  

Driving down to Germany van told me he might needed a new cooler for the mountains in Greece. So that’s what we did passing by the mechanic for a new cooler. We slept in front of the office and rolled out to the door in the morning – perfect. Without doubt this wasn`t a quick DIY fix for the #frontseat stories. This was something for the more professional equipped mechanics. Straight they started to fix the van in the morning and I got a complete breakfast in the office.. after an introduction about me and the kitesurfing, my goals, some youtube-ing on the big screen in the middle of the office, some rides in brand new cars and a well guided walk through the mountains we were good to go again. Saying goodbye to the nice mechanics and off we go for the rest of the 3000 km. In the end no one travels on the road without a puncture of two… is it..?

This is something I am always aware of, take care of the van and it will take care of you. But sometimes especially with loooong trips there is a slight change of a breakdown. Or something that can last, but I always fix it to be sure. (Especially when I know I will cross non- European countries). Along the way are always mechanics in every country. (otherwise the insurance can help out – check if it is valuable in the countries you drive through! before you depart….).

Next country we passed was Austria. A fun country to drive I always find. The mountains, incredible views, pretty villages and amazing lakes, it makes me thinking about hitting the slopes again. We made a quick stop at Silvaplana – the most beautiful lake for kiting, winging and in winter snowkiting. Well, and a great place to spend the night and make a little SUP tour before driving on the next morning.

Next up Hungary.  Hungary had good quality roads with clear markings, well-regulated traffic lights and numerous road signs. I was surprised, I am sure you will find it really simple to drive on the country’s roads. Traffic regulations in Hungary tends to be quit the same with standard European traffic regulations.  Although Hungarian roads are distinguished by high quality, it is almost impossible to call them simple. Even in large cities, there are many narrow and winding streets, and historic parts of old towns resemble mazes that can be a bit complicated to drive and to find the right street. But it will be worth it to drive through and just enjoy!  Accept the many one-way streets in old parts of cities. Until the road through the fields, which is the end of Hungary and led us to the border of Serbia.

Entering Serbia: even though Serbia is not in the European Union, you don’t need any extra visa or passport requirements. The insurance I use is covering Serbia as well, but be sure you check that beforehand.  From the passport control on the end of Hungary to the passport control of Serbia a few meters further. The guy is relaxed sitting in his little booth. He scurs the passport before placing a stamp and gives “the nod” to drive on.  Next stop, two officials – casually dressed raise their hand and beckon me to the side. One asks for the passport and flicks through the pages a few times, meanwhile picking up my old boarding passes dropping out. “you travel al lot I see” ..The other guy enters the vehicle registration on his handheld device. After several questions about what I am going to do and where I am going and if I have any valuables on board (no they don`t mean kites), a test ride on my surfskate, I am free to enter Serbia.  And…two fans richer.

Here I got introduced by the most hectic road ever driven, beeping everywhere, cars all around(- I thought that was only in Vietnam), I choose just to go with the flow and enjoy it (apart from beeping myself). Turns out that this is only at a little piece of the main road. A few minutes later the road is empty and peaceful again.  At the stations people were super nice and friendly.  I was just looking at the toilet gate, and the employee came to me and opened the gate for me after he found out the yellow plate is from the Netherlands ( I didn’t even needed to go – and it was a paid toilet) . They were really friendly and helpful. The bottle of water was free too, after listing to the history of the gas station which was family owned – I got invited for family dinner, but decided to drive on.

On the side roads I took there are a lot of shops along the road; selling some kind of vehicle salvage; from exhaust to seats to wipers to number plates (!?) well, I guess you never know…… taking the turn off the hectic main road;  a view of long corn and sunflower fields along the road continues, into the country side. Novi sad is a great village to visit along the way, a bit hectic though, but  with friendly people. The outskirt of Serbia is a mix of people living in the slums and wealthy living, a big contrast with the inside. Where the best is to walk around the tiny alleys.  A few miles out the city is Sremski Karlovci a historic village almost like a film set.

While camping is not that common in Serbia, some of the so called campsites are actually just the homes of villagers. They have a lot of property and it seems they figured out that camping is popular with those “weird” tourists and decided to call their yards a campsite. 

Most of the Locals will be confused seeing you sleeping in your van and may invite you home. Since no one in Serbia goes camping ( they go on hikes), the moment they see the van, they get confused. Assuming that you must be too poor to pay for accommodation. That’s when they invite you home.  When you are a woman camping alone, they get particularly confused and come back to bring you food and water! It can be quit hard to tell them that you are intentionally sleeping in your van. – I gave up on that one.

By this way you get to know nice facts and have a good google translate workout. The Serbians of the village we slept in told us of another village somewhere close by  where only two inhabitants remained, but ironically they hated each other and refused to talk, such was the stubbornness of the elderly mountain folk. So we went with them and visit the “village” -read two houses –  before heading off again to the next country.

From Serbia to Kosovo: The border guards in Kosovo were so welcoming and friendly that they encourages us to visit their country and we were easily persuaded! … They asked us:

 “Do you want to apply for asylum in Kosovo?” The custom officer looks at my Dutch passport.  And smiles.  I told him; “no thanks,  I’m not on the run”. And there we go again, What is kitesurfing? Can you show me?  The border guards told me I had to visit four paws bear rescue sanctuary and the city of Prizren. They also told me that travelling to Kosovo to Serbia, you will have to make a detour, for example via Macedonia. Some old habits and the wars deep down. Some nationalities are not even allowed to go in apparently…

After the conversation of at least half an hour I could head down to the city of Prizren The medieval center fills with ice cream parlors and nut bars during the day.  Prizren has many old churches and mosques. When I peek around the corner of the old Sinan Pasha Mosque I am invited to enter. I wrap my sweater around my head and slip inside. A number of women are praying next to me. I just stare at the colored sealing.

The Old Stone Bridge is a beautiful arched bridge that was probably built in the fifteenth century. The bridge with its three arches plays an important role in trade and social life in the city.

After this highlights and another night sleeping at a beautiful location it is time to move on again.  A little bit of a hectic road with lots of bumps and cracks – but what’s new…?

Roads were made for journeys not destinations isn`t it..? It is about the wild stuff that happens along the road, that is the greatest part of a road trip.

From Kosovo we crossed the border to North Macedonia.

First leaving Kosovo  with a quick passport control. The passport control to North Macedonia is quick to. The next stop is the Douane. Seeing them unpacking a car completely next to me. Taking the off toll road means also that you end up at less international passport controls and more suspicious controllers. Luckily I am quite used to this by now, travelling with foil gear seen as weapons, kite lines and bars see as murder ropes… and the kites .. I still don’t know what they think of that. You don’t have internet access with European membership and cell phone provider, at least not until you pay a lot of money. So be prepared to have google translate offline. (the border on the toll roads is more international and easier). Because off course the Dutch number plate they have to check the van. Is it not the yellow, is it the connection with the Netherlands and drugs. I also always make sure I have documents of where I am going (even when staying in a van), and have videos on my phone of me kitesurfing so I can show them what I do. It makes it easier to pass and not to have unpack your whole car.   Macedonia will check first the passport and then the car insurance, if your green card is valid.

After pulled out of the line – I expected nothing else – a quick look of the police. They question if I have drinks, drugs ..? and in between the lines: if you have weed you can give it to me now than there is no problem… I smile and say no, I am an athlete. And that he had to admit looking in the car, seeing the skateboards etc.. Within a few seconds I could jump in and drive through.

The first gas station I saw along the road, I really thought I made a mistake driving all this way into this country. If I haven’t locked the doors already – like I always do. I would have done that first thing. Seeing all people walking along the road to and from the border. Sitting next to the highway.  People under cardboards……with their whole live in a plastic back. On one side sad, on the other not understandable for us as Europeans. It is so close, yet so far away. Anyway,  I decide to drive one. In the end you can`t judge a book by its cover. And I got the proof, because a little further down the road it was the opposite: the scenery was amazing.  Lots of churches and monasteries, not touristic yet so the inhabitants are super friendly. The lakes are clear and the forest is super green, just litter is a huge problem.  

Still impressed by the amount of Turkish tea houses and beautiful mosques around Skopje and the river Vardar. The highlight is the Mustafa Pasha mosque. And then they told me one of the most famous historical structures is the 214-meter-long bridge that connects the Old Bazaar with the new part of the city.

According to the Macedonian we had to visit a national park:  At the foot of Bitola lies Pelister National Park, a mountainous area that is ideally suited for cycling and walking. You have to pay attention, because wolves, bears and lynxes live in the park! We safely stayed down in the village after a quick drive around the park. I don’t want to get eaten before even arriving in Greece.

Greece – Drepano – Nafpaktos – Naxos – Paros

Next up: crossing the border of Greece.

That was an easy one, a look in my passport and again the question; where are you going..? and than he started to list out al the kiting spots for me. Which ones I could skip and where I have to go. He was my fan number one already! .. leaving my signature on his cap… after asking 10 times; “are you sure?”

The roads in Greece are mainly pretty good, easy to drive, nothing special.  The European championships will be held in Nafpaktos, I expected something like a beach.. but I never found it… just a place with some dust , rocks, behind some green. And a big tarmac place, it looked like a helicopter landing spot or something. Within seconds I saw kites on the other side… Drepano. Drepano is one of the populair kitespots in Greece. You can take the expensive bridge (if you take it once, otherwise you can make a membership deal) or.. the cheaper version to come to the other side the ferry (takes a few minutes more – still a quick ride). I took the bridge, but it wasn`t worth it I would say. The way back I took the ferry.

Drepano, is a small kitespot. Because of the event and the weekend even smaller.  The first week I stayed on the spot, the wind was perfect, just the launching of a foil kite a bit sketchy. Camping wasn`t allowed according to a small sign next to the entrance, but we stayed several nights without any problems, just like other campers.

The week after the wind decided to turn, and after one session with this crazy wind……I thought about the border guard what spots did he tell me about.

 Spontaneous I made a plan in the late evening, just before I went to sleep. Checking the ferry tickets to Paros in 7 hours the boat was scheduled to depart to Paros from Athens. It was around a 4/5 hour drive and I decided to go for it.  I made it, but because of the bad weather the ship never left the harbour. We had to wait all day in the line before getting refunds or a new ticket – the next day. I stayed a day in the harbour. And that way I could visit Athens and be on time for the boat the next morning. The weather was still not perfect, but good enough to depart.

Whatever happens, think of it as an adventure!

On Paros I stayed right on the beach and the kitespot. Because it was kind of off season for us kiters, it was not busy at all. One day of no wind were I took the SUP for a “little tour”. The rest of the days were perfect! My best decision ever 😊

Before ging back to Nafpaktos for the competitions I visited the island of Naxos– which is only an hour by boat. I will come back for more kiting on this islands for sure!

After Naxos it took 6 hours with the boat back to Athens and from Athens I drove the 5 hours back to Nafpaktos again. Here I could also sleep right on the beach and the spot of the competition.

Read about the European Championship in Greece: here.  

Next up: Italy – venice – lago di resia – lago di garda

From Patras there is a boat to Venice. It will take 33 hours, but compared with the price paying it is easy and super cheap compared with driving. And you cannot escape a visit to Venice. After searching some places to stay in Venice, I decided to park the car/van not in Venice or too close, but safe on a campsite a little further down the highway. From there you can easily access Venice with the bus.  And like that I didn`t had to worry. And could enjoy my 360 of sightseeing in Venice, walk around for a bit and sleep on the campsite before driving again.

After Venice, I drove back to Lago di Resia, were I spent the night. It’s our favourite snow kiting lake in Italy (-we will be back!). Driving the reschenpass again and again this year. Not the last time , as I had to go back to Lago di Garda for the wingfoil racing competition……… read all about it here! 

In the end you only regret the roads you didn`t take…

 Not the first countries on many people’s bucket lists, and to be honest, and honestly I also had no idea what to expect! But this countries in the Western Balkans surprised me in many, many ways. 😊  Also Greece, so easy to go to with the van, to move around and to stay. It is that I promised to come back home ….

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Shred It Till Bed, Uncategorized

My first wingfoil race ever : The Wingfoil Racing World Cup & Europeans 2022 #Kookoftheday

Back to beginner…. My first wingfoil race ever! A bit of a change; Instead of jumping, spinning around in the sky, flying or racing around with huge kites and a race foil, I will be racing around with the “tiny” wing. A few months ago I finally had a board with straps and made my first jumps and real rides again. Nothing special, I never expected I would like the “winging thing” like this. So, yes it was a bit of a spontaneous decision. But already driving a lot of kilometres the past weeks and days, this was a piece of cake. From Greece to Lago di Resia and back again to Lago di Garda before going back home once again.

It`s always fun to try something new, to learn more about different things. And if not now, when..? The only way to improve is to try different things…

So I went checking out the wingfoil racing discipline. My first wingfoil race ever: Back on the place I dived head first into my first ever kitefoilrace & Kitefoil Europeans some years ago – still a lifetime adventure. The start of my adventures racing career on foils next to all other “things”  & freestyle disciplines – back at: Lake Garda.

My first wingfoil race ever : The Wingfoil Racing World Cup & Europeans 2022

Without any knowledge or look at the race formats, jumping into the deep. Same I did during the kitefoiling Europeans. A lot has changed since then. I think the same will happen in wing foiling as it is exploding the past years. It is great to be a part of it and experience it first handed. To see what the wingfoil racing is all about and more important if I can do it & if it is really fun. I remember the kitefoiling was pretty impressive for me with all teams around and on the other side just me – myself and I. Well, nothing changed in that, but I got more confident, in developing myself into the best athlete I can be without a team.

“If I let go who I am, I become what I might be”

As you can guess these days there exist a lot of “first times”, even more moments;  “I should have a” , the usual:  “next time I bring” and the.. “I should have trained”.    The biggest surprise I had was the moment I realized… when I arrived the foils outside connected to race (kitefoil) foils, were for winging, not for kitefoil racing (Why did Nobody told me that..?). I have my kite racefoil in the car, unfortunately no board to attach it to for wingfoiling….but if I only had known…..

For me it even was the first time winging with a “race wing foil”. I always used the 1280 ( a big front wing), but for this event I used for the first time a 850 frontwing. Which I thought a foil is a foil, clearly not. This smaller one had way less lift  (duhhh) and with my small sinking board, it wasn’t easy to get out or I needed a fairly big wing to pull me out. Let`s not talk about my tacks & Gybes.  It is what it is, the only wing equipment I have for now.  A shorts mast, small front wing and a big wing, no harnas… : Kook of the day and ready to race! 😊

Kook / kook/ “A kook is a nut or a weirdo – in other words a crazy or eccentric person”

The first day of racing:  We started with a long distance course with a rabbit start. Which means that at the end of the countdown a boat with a rabbit (floating banana thing) behind will pass over the starting line. The moment it passes you, you’re allowed to pass the line and start racing.  We went all 65 together at the same time. It’s a long race, with a reaching start around the mark, a upwind mark, a reach and back downwind to the finish boat. To the opposite of the lake and back. The first race we tried the island as upwind/reach mark, that didn`t work (something with no wind behind the island).  This race we had to re – sail with an upwind mark slightly before the island.

I had to get used to the starting, because the wingfoil is slower than a racefoil. Don`t mention the riding that much upwind ( and going that slow).  After a few meters, not even reaching the first mark – yet, didn`t know what I had started. I almost did regret it… I never sailed that much upwind with my wing and never that far, that mark seems to disappear further and further. My hands, arms and shoulders were slowly falling apart; “Am I really moving upwind..?!”. During this I realized why they were harnesses (discovery of the day..), at least I had a great bicep workout this day..

With the usual splashing, pumping, restarting, wingfilppin`and crashing ( that damn wingtip of the wing), I finally made it to the mark and still had the reach so I still had to hold on the full power of the big wing. And finally we could go downwind.. I was a bit too enthusiastic, went that fast (- not used to going fast and a short mast) the frontwing came out on a wave (reminder to myself- the mast is a tiny bit shorter as my foil mast…). And another crash, some pumping and straight to the finish line were I still could overtake some. Ending up 4th.

The races after were difficult for me with a huge windhole at the first mark. Just at the moment I came and had to turn (offcourse). Yup I went collecting my:  deep Lake fishing scores with my sinking board and small frontwing (dnc – did not compete) … I never made it to the starting line being locked into my own windhole on the bottom of the lake. Twice….At least one race the wind was gone for everyone.  Time to wait for the wind to change direction.

That’s the typical Garda – wind. The wind of lake Garda is thermal,  There are two typical winds around: Pelèr, the northerly morning wind, and Ora, the wind from the South, which usually starts after the Pelèr drops down. And tends to be a slightly lighter breeze.

Second day of racing: We did a downwind slalom, because of the lighter winds. An early start of 9AM (!). During this fun little races I kept on dragging the wingtip in the water and crashing. While after the start until the last mark I was on a 4th position.  Might be because I was also pushing it too hard to go faster and faster. But it was so much fun! … Better a big oops than a what if, at least that’s what I think.

It took me forever upwind to get back to the starting line where I just made it in time – straight into the starting sequence of the next race. My arms had another heavy day. I discovered a lot this day. Were we (as kitefoilers) go for pressure they  (as wingfoilers) go for pumping . Were we sink, struggle and swim to keep the kite flying, they just chill and float around! Or pump like crazy and try to get back up the foil… At least no wet foil kite this event… I still  remember the gras in front of the hotel filled up with 70 foil kites after the wind switched off at the Kitefoil Europeans.  So today, I had some 5-6 -8 scores. The last race I went deep Lake fishing scores with my sinking board (dnc)…That scores I never made it to the starting line being locked into my own windhole on the bottom of the lake.

The afternoon wind kept on teasing us and never became strong enough for wingfoiling – Although I am pretty sure with Kitefoiling the jury would have send us out…. to just try…

Third day of racing:  never happened. The wind never showed up for real.

Fourth day of racing: Was al about upwind starts and not the usual reaching starts. And a upwind parcourse for a change.  Unfortunately the day started with a lot of rain, no wind at all. Later the wind came with the rain (because why not..?). Super Strong wind gusts, “waves”  … The first start attempt we couldn’t see a thing, just rain, rain and rain and we were send in again. To be honest the rest got send in.. I never went in at the first place. After a bit more of the waiting game it was time:  Go big or… go home is becoming a statement this year I guess….since I had only one big wing to go with.

After 4 upwind start races in strong wind…. And the flag of the starting sequence goes up agaaaaain… my arms are still hanging on there. This one was actually fun!

Note to self: stop dragging the wingtip around and into the water, it will safe some splashing before the marks or a minimum of 2 crashes every single (!) race … Blame the short arms, the one and only big wing I brought or the 75cm mast . After all I had some decent scores 4-5-5-6, and..yet also the opposite some 9 -11 & DNC.`s

Definitely a lot of fun & surprising to do something different in the racing discipline! Still a lot to learn.. 1000 crashes, 1 tack and an 8th place at the end of the WingFoil Racing world cup & Europeans, my first wing foiling race ever…and a little bit less of a “kook”

……Next time I come with a bit more prepared race skills Thanks for the racing,  fun and ….on to the next one!   The expert in anything was once a beginner after all!  

Mariska Wildenberg
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Chase Life & Dreams, Uncategorized

The Yar of Happines and Luck

The yar of happiness and luck.

Yup, I am happy, really lucky, with a great passion – an amazing sport to life for (on the water and the snow), nice friendly people around, a loving family, a home, a nice van for the trips, trainings & competitions. Things are arranged well, the things I cannot do alone I got help with – mostly. A life filled with fun, exciting adventures, sports and development. Travel the world at times, a nice study & work.  It’s great, something I’m proud & grateful about.

But happiness doesn’t knock on the door for free

You don`t just catch happiness and luck from the air, neither you can find the rest in a jar after throwing some around – saving some for later in case you need some. Or buy a jar of happiness and luck at the local supermarket. Neither it`s finished for you, after I had some luck, no there is enough for everyone. I also didn`t catch happiness and luck from the sky, neither it blow into my hands. It is tough, I worked hard for it, made difficult not to say impossible decisions…and I still have to do sometimes.  Something I suppose you have to do to… And I won`t take it for less now. It will be all worth it, promised. Once the decision is taken, go for it – there is no way back anyway.                 

“You can own it all, visit it all, but if you are never grateful for this opportunities, you will never find happiness and luck. When you have the ability to be always grateful, it doesn’t matter where you are” – something I learned along the way.

Happiness isn`t in a jar – Happiness is a choice.

Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions. I am surprised about the amount of people, complaining: finding themselves in a situation they are not happy about. But also then they don’t want to do anything about it.  I always learned: “If you do what you`ve always done, You’ll get what you`ve always got”. So if you are unlucky, you will stay unlucky, as simple as that. Just telling you the facts.

So, that means if you don’t do something else, everything will remain the same over and over again,  you will stay unlucky. Some health issues, you can’t do anything about, but the situation, the environment you are in, you can change. The mindset you can work on. Do what you can with what you have. Where you are.

I get it, in one way being unlucky feels safe. In your own cocoon.  You know what you have and what you don`t. You can safely complain. Especially now with social media. The pressure to being above average, showing all forms of happiness is high. We cannot hide, we face it all the time:  the people with special talents, who have everything.. Being average is almost scary… In the other way,  I can’t imagine you will be lucky in that cocoon. What I can imagine, that it is hard breaking through the shell.  But once you try you will find out eventually; “Because what is being average..?” I believe everyone is special in its own way and everyone is having his or her own talents to achieve great things in a different way – it doesn`t need to be shown on social media, you’re awesome in real life already!  We don’t have a choice whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it .  (don’t ask google ask me..!)  

“Luck is when opportunity knocks and you answer”

Luck & happiness begins with the decision to no longer feel sad. You have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go. Life is given but how you live is your responsibility. Being present and finding the joy in every moment. Believe in what will be, be grateful for what remains. 

One of the happiest moments in life is when you find the courage to let go of what you cannot change. It is what it is. You have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go. Focus on yourself. See the bigger picture, you don’t need to fit in or be compared. Live your life according to your own rules!

The yar of happiness and luck isn`t a yar. It`s a decision.

Give it a chance! May I suggest to try, before letting me know luck comes to me for free, and I have a yar full of it. Please be vulnerable to ask for help, read, talk.. try, try again.  Take more chances, be more active and show up. The best way to find happiness is not to wait for it, it is not the absence of problems, it is the ability to deal with them.

 Believe me or not I have been stuck in that cocoon many times, finding myself doing the same over and over again, waiting for? The yar of luck? No, from that moment I teach myself to do whatever makes me happy – no matter what other people “so called friends” think or do. They will push you around, you shouldn’t care. You only live once and if you do it right, once is enough. When finding out what change can give you.. you get good at it.

I am one of that persons that loves change, fair, development, fear it is what makes me happy, excited and chasing the things worth living for. I get a kick under my ass a lot of times, either I do it myself or someone else will do it.  But life gets more exciting like that though. Go on a journey of discovery. Making mistakes is allowed, giving up NOT.

“you deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a life you are excited about. Don`t let others make you forget that or take that from you. Being happy and lucky doesn’t come from having it all, it comes from appreciating what you already have”

Just in case you want to know, at the moment of writing this, I just published  my blog – My passport back in action. I also just arrived in Greece after an adventurous road. At the spot, but I couldn`t find my thing, be happy in the place, feel safe sleeping alone. No – one around yet and wind from the wrong direction. So, what the hell;  I just decided to move on. In a split second I booked a ticket. Take the ferry to …Paros and even that was hard, because of the suddenly bad weather, strong wind the ferry didn’t go. After a night of driving, one day in the sunny line (-useless). And the last ticket in de night sold out, a night in the middle of the harbour..  I almost thought what did I do now again. But hey I just went the next morning on the ferry……… and visited Athens for the night. Enjoyed the evening watching the boats and fisherman. Taking a shower on the parking lot, slept in front of the boat.  I was thinking; “will it all be worth it….?!”. But NO that`s wrong. It will be worth it, definitely. I have never been on that island before and … I am here right here, right now living life. Enjoy it and be lucky for the chance given to travel and kite all around the world.  And take a shower on the parking lot… who can say that…..;)          .. And I had the best time on Paros!

Last but not least: What makes you happy doesn’t have to make sense to others! If you don’t like something, change it. If you cannot change it, change your attitude.   

Perfection can’t stay there, you can’t stay on the line of perfection, perfection is the straight line through life. Life goes up and down and will occasionally hit that line – that perfection: that one moment, that one peak you need to win – that one moment of perfection – a happy and lucky moment: That will stay with you!

Mariska Wildenberg
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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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Uncategorized, What`s Next #kitevanlife

My passport is back in action

It took me a while to finish this one, I didn`t wanted it to be negative, neither sad nor a complain, excuse –  just true. Unexpected situations happen, things end, people change … and you know what..?? Life goes on.  

So did I. Still the same goal, the same road – a bit bumped and bit longer, still on the way, on a mission, I went on some time ago.

“Every time I fell down as soon as I hit the ground, remind me who I am and I get back up again. I will be back again. Take it or leave it, I am what I am. And life goes on, so do I.”

At the moment of writing this I finally packed my van again and took my passport on the road for another few stamps & stories. So yes together with my bed, two foils, a wing foil, 5 boards, 4 wings, 10 kites (you never know), some bars, harnesses, wetsuits, a kite pump, some bars (but never  the right one),  a SUP ( yes I do need this one…in case there is really no wind), a skateboard (I know the roads in Greece aren’t that good), a surf skate, skates (there are skateparks you know), an electric skateboard (here the police isn`t chasing me – yet), a bicycle, a soccer ball, some weights for the homeless gym, paddle, helmets, a panini grill (cause why not) the big back off tools under the passenger seat (#frontseatstories), some more useless and useful crap in case of whatever.. the rest of the space filled up with; Dutch water, some food (read; snacks in all corners of the van – in case there is no supermarket the next decades) and a few clothes in case I don’t need just my bikini and a bit more clothes (like in the air-conditioning of a ferry…) – Hell Yeah, I am on the road again..!!

This brave basterd of a van took me all the way down to Greece (3000KM). Proudly enjoying the view on the beach at Paros Island the past weeks ..and a little moment later the stony beach in Nafpaktos (with neighbours dog & donkey), the place of the European Championship Kitefoiling 2022.

 We have been through some countries, adventures, crazy roads, amazing yet strange places, friendly people, weird people... Collecting stamps on the way passing the borders of Macedonia, Servia, Greece, Kosovo!  (- into the country I decided to google; “is it safe to drive through…?! Is it safe to travel to..?!”) But, in the end I was already into the country – no choice – it was super nice to drive through these countries, see some small villages, incredible nature. Taking the touristic route and not the toll road with some great views! I am glad I drove this way down. In fact my longest road trip with the van sofar.

Yep, after the World cup of snowkiting 2022, I didn`t do any competition anymore. I wished, but nope. Not that I didn`t wanted it;  I just  couldn`t make it happen – unfortunately.  I remember I always said the next one is.. subscribing myself and “forcing” myself, because I had to..?  Be ready…? Turning out the next one never happened. I had different priorities for the long term if I ever wanted to compete again on international level into the Olympic class. I was not ready, my gear was not ready. I am still not ready, my gear is still not ready (- working on that one). But I am coming close now.  Jus in need of some training hours with the gear now. The kitefoil sessions I did are to count on two hands..and with this kites.. to count on one hand.

“You never know until you go – your passport”

As well as, because of all the “things” happening in the world, for a long time I just had an 11m foil kite. And a hydrofoil which was not my own. As simply as it is hydrofoil racing is expensive, too expensive for a normal & independent person & athlete. And I had to make choices, compete and be the same, not compete and collect my own quiver and make myself better.

But hey! I am here now in Greece, ready or not and that’s all what counts, back to do what I love the most, taking my passport and van on a journey to the windy water for some training. I am here for how many races I can take, I can stay out of trouble and finish! Nothing to lose and all to win.

Meanwhile I enjoyed my wing gear and freestyle, big air kites..and the snow! The year I learned new things about eating (!), the gym (!), wing foiling finally with straps (I love it!). I went climbing which I never thought I would like (boring) I learned more about the different snowkiting disciplines and how to make a MEGA flight of a hill…(unexpected though). I learned about people, about trust and about letting go. I learned about the lonely process of being an all depending on yourself – independent athlete (which means not connected to a team, federation or club). And the hard process of balancing the financing part, working hard, family and friends and other things (and competitions besides kitefoiling). Trying to do it all. I was all in working, so hard to achieve my goals. I almost drowned in it, I ended up in the money thought. Keeping all balls high up, wasn`t possible anymore. I was home but I was not home. I was thinking about myself but actually not. Still fighting for that mission. Like I always did.  Becoming the best athlete I can ever be on the water & snow.

During all of this I  became a little lost in what I was meant to do, a little lost in goals, dreams and what to train for, what to really work for, what I could take. Snow, water…. Foil, wing, fun. Until, I just went for another night shift and I didn`t really feel like going neither working… …. …. … …. Just another night shift… .. again.

That moment I thought I might have to take another road, at the start of my night shift it changed. “He”, the supervisor of that night told me, looking at my passport; “ You travelled a lot I see..? Yes I did..! .. and used to do. He said;  well, those memories, no-one will ever take them from you”. He continued with a because;

“Off all the books in the world the best stories are found in between the pages of a passport”

And that’s what made me smile, knowing he is true. And knowing from deep inside all these memories, are great, it made me look at my passport again. That’s where I live for.  I know from myself I always keep looking forward, pushing it and forgetting about the memories I made – always in need of more. Memories which are important to me and the once around me, the made me who I am today. That I can be super happy that I went through all of this, have the possibility to do all of this.  Sometimes I just need a little reminder, looking back is good at times too.  That all the hard work, sacrifices, decisions ( good or bad) are worth it. On top with all the sleepless nights, doubts, the thought when it turns out right I will lose, when it goes wrong I will lose. So what’s the point of doing this..? Well all these things floating around in my mind, they went aside, because the rest of the night I kept he smile. And realized I can be proud of what I achieved, it wasn’t always easy, but I did anyway. I have been to all those places, I have done all those competitions, I made it work. So I have to do now. Although it might be different than people expect.

From this moment on, when I doubt; I look at my passport and think about all the memories made and the stories told, the people met. All the missions I achieved. All the places I have been, all the memories made, the experiences and adventures, they are worth more than anything else (and any medal) in the world. And they keep that smile on my face.

Keeping the dream of little Mariska alive..? Hell yeah! That’s what we do it for. Asa l little gril I always dreamed of travelling the world being the best, compete being independent and not that shy girl. Inspire you to do whatever you dream.

 One way or the other, lets go. Live your passion and collect all the stamps in the world. Back out there on a mission! And getting as ready as I can for the Europeans of 2022 in Kitefoiling, while already enjoying Greece.  Lets hit the Greek water, launch some foil kites into the trees, get dragged over the beach (stones in this case) again, crash some gybes, hit some marks and stick some tacks. Relearn the laylines, stay out of trouble, avoid DNF and just go faaaaaaaaaaast! Ready… or not……. Let`s make some memories.  Nothing to lose and all to gain… as someone just told me: “the most dangerous people are those who have nothing to lose”

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Chase Life & Dreams, Uncategorized, What`s Next #kitevanlife

Once upon a dream…

Once just a dream… I would see only in those bleary moments just before sleep, I felt ready to try this new reality. I’ve known for as long as I could remember that I wanted to travel and see the world, have my own VW – Van. My parents even gave me one for my birthday long ago .. a so called “piggy bank” tho. My surfbus… where I would save all the tips I got working my side jobs. We made jokes about the Van and my life , my Van, the future, vanlifethe bus, surfing. At the same time everyone did now far deep from the inside it wasn`t a joke deep down it is true. That it only needed some time to accomplish this dream.

“Every family needs that kid that always goes somewhere, somehow”

At the moment of this dream, the surfboards and waves, the beach already appeared and I wasn`t even kitesurfing – yet. I have had always a big passion for extreme sports and traveling, adventure and freedom, making the most out of everything. Competitions have always been and still are the red line in my life. Always in need for a goal, preferable one just too far away, a dream. Like the van, the surfboards….. While we already painted the palm trees on the wall of my room, the bleu sky, the sun and the sand…I started to realize my kitesurfing dream.

 ….But once I’d moved out of the comfort of my parents’ house (oke a little.. I still have my palmtree bedroom over there), the realities of being able to save enough money on a not-that-well-paid jobs sank in.  A normal full time job was simply not doable because of studying and my other passion & life: kitesurfing & snowkiting – competing international and training all over the world. Working an events, hotel, restaurant, distribution, cleaning and transport job in the night, that I enjoyed and still do enjoy (thanks to all the people around who make it fun every night again 🙂 ), but wasn’t passionate about. Please, don`t get me wrong in this. I have a huge respect for all working people, no matter where or what.

I had to take care of myself now. And somehow still manage to compete on the highest level in snowkiting, kitesurfing, kitefoiling & learn the wing foil thing, train, finish my second master and enjoy life.

With most of my income going on rent, college money and bills: the accommodation costs for training, travel expenses, subscription fees (!) and competitions, the newest kites needed (!)(20 000 euro)  and transport:  I began searching for a way to cut my monthly expenses (especially when training, traveling, going to competitions). This was when the idea of living in a van started to creep in – again (I did it before – from frozen to liquid water)- I could live in it, continue working (or at least find a way to continue) and then travel in it to competitions and training locations. Save a lot of time, money, so I could work less. Sleeping close to the places I have to work, I train and drive straight after to the beach or mountain… gym for a shower. Make the world my backyard, train everywhere and compete without too much costs. With vanlife, I was ticking two boxes at once!

Well, not really. I definitely ticked multiple boxes and it made my life way easier, flexible, adventures and definitely more fun. On the other side it is still hard work to make it happen. And to continue it. But so worth it.

So finally last year I made it happen, I converted my own van. It is not perfect but it is very much mine. This year I already made more than 5 trips in two months, to the snow to the sun, competing, training. And… I loved every moment of it!   Vanlife makes you happy…. 😊

Once just a dream, now made reality.

I hope to inspire you to believe in yourself, have faith in your abilities. Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.  A dream doesn`t become reality through magic it takes sweat determination and hard work.

And although traveling in a campervan won’t always be picture perfect, One day you’ll look back on this journey and think: “That was one hell of a ride”.

Once just a dream, now made reality. Just like my dream to be the best kitesurfer I can be. And my road into the Olympic kitefoiling road as an independent athlete.

Read more about the up and downside of vanlife on my vanlife page.

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Shred It Till Bed, Snowkiting, Uncategorized

“Scary Movie” Podium 2022 – Cortina

The story of the Scary Movie Podium 2022 – Cortina

What a season!

Yep, the snowkiting season for me is over now.  With leaving Norway two weeks ago, the snowkiting season 21´-22´ came to an end.  From new years` eve to France to Lapland to nightshifts to Italy to Norway.  Lot’s of km’s driven, driving the same mountain pass “only” 8 times, mid night repacking, 3 competitions, 5 disciplines, 6 podiums, one big scary flight off a mountain and a lot of fun.

Some amazing mountain tops & views along the way, looooooots of snow, and even more stunning sunrises and sunsets. 55 knots till nothing at all. Sleeping in the van in – 11 without freezing, snowchain days, from – 29 till a sunny 20 degrees……

Unforgettable adventures, new friends met, other doors opened.

 It has been an unexpected, fun and strange year. Ages ago that we had competitions in the first place. 2 years ago for the last snowkiting session. With all the “things”  happening in the world we don`t understand. The whole Covid situation on one hand, on the other hand the war between Russia and Ukraine. It all seems unreal. Competing together with the all nationalities, the Russian and Ukrainian, the other moment…. Just after they got home from the World Cup in Roccaraso: pictures of bombs, shelters and explosions around our friends and their homes.. Seems like another planet that this is happening. While the world and life continues.

We all live together and we have to make it work together. Just like we do during the sporting events.  If it is the rules depending on the Covid situation or a war….

With that said. The season ended. Because of the things going one in the world, The IKA Snowkite World tour of 2022 had only three stops, two of them in the racing and long distance discipline – with a choice between ski or snowboard. One event dedicated to big air and freestyle in both, skiing and snowboarding. Although my first race and long distance battle of the season was the International snowkite open – Lago Di Resia. There I decided to continue the world tour snowkiting, because it was so much fun again! And I did missed the snow.

The racing and long distance stop in Charkov I missed, and a lot among me, because of the political situation already at that moment. The next stop was Roccaraso – Italy. And after the freestyle & big Air stop in Cortina – Italy.

With winning the International Snowkite Open in Long Distance & Course race at Lago Di Resia, I had a good start of the season. And made my promise of three years ago through. Read More Here.

After this the next stop was the IKA Snowkite Worldcup Long Distance & Course Race ( & GPS) in Rocarasso. Where I managed to get the world title in course race! And win the course race with the lowest amount of points, 1-1-1-1 and the 2nd I could discard. I became 2nd in the long distance. And 1st in the GPS.  Read More Here.

The next and last snowkiting competition was the IKA Snowkite World Championship Big Air & Freestyle in Cortina. Finally some freestyle and big air again. At least that is what I thought. I really enjoy this discipline at the water and while freeriding in the snow, I mean I like racing but sometimes, I have to lose my energy in something else and just go crazy! With a new format, including more slopestyle, kickers, sliders.. it looked very promising and fun. The only thing that didn’t looked promising was the wind… the wind actually never showed up for real. The only official heat finished is the one of big air ski men. We ( the woman) started our heat right after but the wind dropped, and the scoring became hard so our heat couldn`t be scored properly and had to be redone. I have to be honest, I missed out on the complete heat.. I choose the 15m over the 11m and met one really big gust (in between no wind at all – probably the only gust of the weekend) on my way down the hill into the competition field. And that is the start story of the “Scary Movie Podium”.

Let me present to you: The Story of the Ika SnowKite WorldCup & the Cortina Snowkite Contest 2022 – Passo Giau:

  “Scary Movie” Podium

Go BiG OR go Ho.. take the Risk and FLY. I did a loooot of things in my life that scared me and the onces around. But for this one I was not really prepared- no one I think. This competition I made the longest and highest flight of a mountain with a kite in my hands – sofar! Now this one can officially added to my “scariest jumps of my life” list! Thanks for the car ride back up the hill.  ….After this feeling, I am more than excited for some better & bigger flights next year!

Too bad we couldnt finish the complete competition, but with a lot of sunny days and fun – no complains.  Congratz to the other podium finishers and the girls who actually stayed in the competition area and didn’t flew out of it and made it to some tricks, pops and hops.

That flight made me win the scary movie podium. With the most scary move of the competition. I have never flown like that, backwards soaring off a biggg mountain before.. it was my own fault, because I will always take the risk, the big kite instead of safe and small. In fact I was just hanging on there. I would be lying if I didn`t say that I had some flashbacks ovet how it could end, but quickly I realized I had to keep the kite straight. There was one moment I pulled the bar and got even higher, which made me realize if I want to land push the bar… And that’s how it went, with a soft landing in a no wind area down the hill. I made my first ever flight from a mountain. And survived.

Thanks to the IKA & al partners for organizing the events! Altough the wind was not always in our favour, we tried, we had funad we raced. See you next year – with some more wind & even bigger flights!  And a big High 5 to all sponsors and support I got to compete here!

I can only say: What a season!

For now… it is time to leave winter behind and reload summer in the Netherlands, because the road as a kitefoiler will start again from now one 😊 *taking the dust of my foils and twintip….

All Photo Credits go to: Franzin Deven & Arnoud Wareck

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Shred It Till Bed, Snowkiting, Uncategorized

Snowkite World Cup 2022- Roccaraso, Italy

Snowkite World Cup 2022- Roccaraso, Italy

The final stop of the SnowKite World Tour is going down in the mountains of Italy – Roccaraso. Approximately 1900 km from The Netherlands. It could have been nice if I had decided earlier to go there… because  I was literally half way there the week before at the International Snowkite Open on the Reschensee.

So after finishing off the nightshift I  picked up the van and drove 12 hours, back on the road to Lago Di Resia, some nice mounatin passes.. with some snowchain driving made it complete. I slept a bit further in a little quiet village.. in  the degrees of minus 11: #vanlife this week it is. Apparently I had done a quit good job insulating, without heater it wasn`t cold at all – until I opened that door… The next morning I drove anther 12 hours which made me arrive at Roccaraso – right on time to register for the final stop of the world tour. The winners of this one will be crowned World Champion as well. At least I was awake again after the registration in a cosy, busy, partying bar in the small village Roccaraso – A typical warm Italian Welcome 😊

The first day

Skippers meeting down the slopes at Pizzalto. Being told about the three disciplines: Course race, Long Distance, GPS formula – might be all on one day.  GPS? .. I wasn`t really prepared or that one. Just like ging into the skiing lift, the gondola and skiing down with my kites.. 

Anyway I like adventures so: Taking my complete equipment up to the plateau. Into the ski – lift, skiing down a slope halfway and up into the cable car to the top. I never brought my kite down the slopes and into the cable car and totally not three of them at the same time… Meeting up with some Greek, Slovenian, France, Italian, Ukrainian competitors on the way  up and down.

Once up there the view at the plateau into the valley is super nice! As well as the weather, sunny and no wind – unfortunately. I was surprised by the fact how high and steep the mountains to the valley looked like. With the question, can my race kite handle this.. on the short lines I brought… ? No wind – yet so not thinking about that anymore, I will learn along the way – like always

…So we tried out the Italian ski slopes which are connected to the snowkiting spot. Fun to enjoy some skiing again.  On the end of the day we got some wind, actually a lot of something like wind. Up on the mountain side, not down in the valley. Late afternoon we got released, it was getting late to set up a course, all get down and .. no wind yet in the valley, just on the steep mountain hill. After one more round of skiing I finally decided to try some snowkiting here as well. It`s not a lie that I was a bit scared of the gusty wind, the relative strong wind up the hill and my race kite with super short lines.

 “If  I’m scared it makes me excited, I have to do it”

So there we go with the 15m – which was way too big in the end. I did some unexpected flying and spinning, some ski losing, but in the end I had some fun. First time snowkiting on such a steep mountain. Ending after closing time, we were skiing down late (hoping to end up on the right parking lot…), the pistebully`s already came up..

Second Day

Today we had to do everything, according to the wind forecast- this was and is the best day. Just not the right direction for in the valley – that will make it more gusty. On top of the hill and down in the skiing resort of roccaraso was a looooot of wind. The gear stayed up on the plateau so it was an easy run to the top.  I was curious what will be down there.. no wind, a lot, or.. a bit of both. It turned out to be that last one. 

12m short lines, seemed a safe option, cause I didn`t had another choice of lines, except for 24m. The starting line was behind some hills, hidden,  which was already quit an adventure to get to. Starting is a complete other story, the starting line is in between two mountains. Arrived there.. half of the kites were dead, lying in the middle of the track. After some struggling, we did had some wind to start.  I had  a hard time keeping my kite in the air on the short lines – the minutes before the starting line – sorry guys. Starting from port it was, to safe a tack and get some help from the mountain to the upwind mark. Finally we started the first race, which gave us wind and sometimes not, some walking, kite relaunching, skiing, tangling. Until just before the upwind mark the wind completely died. My kite twisted and got stuck. One of the girls was super friendly to help untangle it… After some waiting and trying the wind game back, and it really did I nearly missed the upwind mark because of too much wind and blowing away. Don’t ask how but I did finish this race.  The second race I had to avoid some tangles, but finished 2nd again after two rounds.

The third and fourth race the wind must have heard me praying, he came back and it was wayyyyy more fun for me, no struggles just going! The laylines became more tight and te rounds quicker and quicker. The only challenge was not to tangle and finish first. And that’s what I did. Staying safe and: finishing 1st and 1st

After this we started the long distance, well the same course as the course race, a bit longer. And a downwind mark in a ….. hole between two mountains. Before we even started I know what was going to happen in that hole with me, my short lines and the kite…. Prepare for some walking… and kite relaunching.

The first upwind and downwind until 10 meters before the downwind mark were really good and fun. A little wind and no struggles. I made a gap between the others. The last part I tried to reach the downwind mark from the top of the hill,  but I started to fly… and the last part … my short lines couldn’t make it happen, my kite just back stalled and I relaunched it.. a 100 times until I got to the mark. Here I lost it all. I think this kite has never rounded a mark this slow, but we managed to anyway. With some slalom through the dead kites. (although the guys were already going for a second lap…. Shameeeee).

Walking upwind until I found some wind again.. and the same process. Downwind mark and lose ground and walk up  to the finish line, which I could do riding because of a gust. Finishing third. A bit sad I couldn`t keep my gap, and lost it down in the hole…. but for the equipment and the conditions, and my mountain skills – still a good job – not too many finished this race.

After the Long distance race, we tried to get back to where we started, the wind died and wo got a nice ride back to the slopes from the snow quads.  I am already happy it is snow and not water.. an easy self-rescue. Thanks guys – it was fun! We took all our equipment and skied down to pizzalto.

Oow and yeah, about: the GPS competition… the GPS formula discipline was on today as well. I never ever had the time or made the time to get into this. So I used an app and my phone which off course didn`t work. So no data for me. But nothing to blame I came unprepared. (As you know me, I am not s from the data..) So that night I learned more about it and forgot.. I have a watch to use. Well tomorrow… maybe…..

Third day

…..It looked for me at least on the forecast the second day would be a no wind day, but the locals said different. The plan is to stay down the mountains and wait for the best wind to come. It can be every direction so we need to be a bit lucky.. I tought I used all of my luck the last races and just making it around the windless downwind mark yesterday. So no expectations.

At least we could park at this spot, which was nice and easy. The field looked a bit rough, with sm e bush sticking out, some grass, some rocks. In the middle of the sun and warm weather.. will be slushy on the end of the day.

But guess what?! The wind came. And pretty strong aswell. Finally some wind for the short lines. Overpowered racing fun with the 15m the first two races! Finally we could really race. The third race the wind went down a little, luckily I was didn`t took the 11m and could easily finish the race. The last race I changed for the 18m, hoping that the wind wouldn`t pick up suddenly and I will be blowing away… Right before the start.. the wind completely disappeared. That`s it for today.  Finishing all races first, I made up for the day before.

I clearly needed this day, in racing but also in GPS. Because I didn`t uploaded any files the day before. This day tried it with my watch. And guess what..?! I almost forgot about it, but that worked out. I even managed to upload the GXS files on time (which I never heard of before – shame #2) . GPSFormula is about the speed, the speed coming in, ging out and during tacks and gybes. Actually a nice training program. Where you can compare to different competitors, learn and push each other to the next level. Not only in snowkiting but also in snowkitingand more sports.

Snowkite Stop Roccaraso:

1st Course Race Ski

1st GPS Formula Ski

3rd Long Distance Ski

Over all Snowkite World Tour:

1st Course race Ski – World Champion

3rd Long Distance Ski

After all I had a great time in the mountains, down the valley and on the field. It opened another world of snowkiting and racing. Meeting up and racing together with a lot of different nationalities ; France, Italian, Russia, Ukrainian, Greek, Slovenian (and moreee) made it even more fun. #spreadlove #nowar Thank you all for racing!! And sleeping the whole week in the van again in the snow was perfect!

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Shred It Till Bed, Snowkiting, Uncategorized

International Snowkite Open Reschensee 2022

Next year I win both… I said three years ago..

International Snowkite Open Reschensee 2022

For more than 3 years (!) – also the first time snowkiting competitions for me –  we didn`t have any snowkiting competitions: cancelled, replaced, relocated, political situations…Just like that in this three years, I have been snowkiting just one day when the covid regulations let us escape a day to the neighbours Belgium – with some more snow than we get at home. More chances of snowkiting than this one I didn`t got anymore. After all we all know: The Netherlands is butter flat and … has nothing than a cosmetical layer of snow on a few rare lucky days the past years. (we call it poo grass kiting for the people still snowkiting in .. no snow, sand and grass..).

Launching a foil kite was also a while ago for me.. the last time was in September at the worlds of kitefoiling. There are many reasons why, the most important is that I didn’t quit hydrofoiling as a lot of you might think, no its actually the other way around. Only a bit more efficiency in the money needed for competitions, gear, entrance fee, training – to keep up with the quick developing Olympic Class – with a loooooooot just out of self support…..

“Nobody said it will be easy, but nothing worth having ever is”

Two years ago I won the long distance and became 3rd  in the course race (for a stupid reason) at the Snowkite Worldcup at Lago Di Resia. From that moment I promised myself next time I win both! And so there we go back snowkiting at Lago Di Resia, three years later – 2022:

Last minute decisions are always the best, Sometimes I can be a bit impulsive but hey it keeps life exciting, isn`t it? Just as little as a few days before the reminder of the international snowkiting competition of the Rechensee – we though, what the heck, let’s go! Straight after my nightshift, we drove to the Reschensee. Right on time for an Italian dinner pizza and off to bed. The next  day (Saturday) we had to register early morning.

Saturday and Sunday are planned to be competition days. Anyhow, Saturday looks really good, Sunday a bit difficult with a huge snow cloud coming in and different wind forecasts. I was a bit scared, not knowing what to expect and.. knowing I didn`t train any snowkiting. But isn`t it always like this..?

Picture: July Brunner

Saturday we started off with the long distance, which took us around two hours. It was fun to finally do some racing on the snow again with skies and a foil kite. Perfect conditions for the 18m. I made my first tacks and gybes again in the middle of the race after three years. Which was so much fun! After the start I had some trouble finding the downwind mark and remembering which side to pass it, not used to be up front.  That made me doing some gybes too much, but rounding everything the right way, behind the first guys. The whole race I focused at myself and the people in front, to catch some of them and to be as quick as possible – without losing to much ground. When finally finishing with shaking legs I know maybe next time I need a little practise before… I didn`t know where I ended, on which place but the only thing I did know that I had a big smile! – I missed this –

After the long distance race, we started straight with the course races, because we never know what is going to happen on Sunday. The wind already became difficult. We started the first race in enough wind for the big kites.. 18m… and only the first 5 that were quick enough finished. I surprisingly finished as 4th.  Some others finished the race running, walking and skating – respect!  😉

After a bit of waiting the next races were up, same story wind, no wind, wind, a lot of wind. And a turning direction, of the wind which made it fun, interesting and more tactical for some exciting port starts and not needed to gybe and rounding the mark in one straight line. Now you could see the differences in tactics.  I even came first around the downwind mark from all competitors after a really good start. One race I specially screwed up for the discard.. I tried to gain some more high on the side of the lake which was a little steeper. When I tacked I did it way to quick and flew the wrong direction, my kite crashed ad tangled  and turned and turned again. After all the dancing, pulling ropes and collapsing I could relaunch it and finish not last. After all it was nice racing, difficult and sometimes a bit of walking & skating. Hard to get speed and for me hard to pass the downwind mark sometimes, and even the finish mark, the other raced I crashed right on top of it in a time of no wind… sorry guys 😊 … after 5 races the day is over.

Sunday we played the waiting game, (which I secretly enjoyed, nice weather, nice view and still happy with the nice day we had yesterday – best day of the season already) the wind kept teasing us with going up and down and turning direction to direction. Almost on the end of the day the AP came up and we were supposed to start racing. Standing on the lake .. the wind disappeared again. Despite some people trying really hard, it didn`t work and finally we were released to the price giving & apple ceremony.

Finished the Long distance 1st and 8th overall.

Finished the course race 1st and 11th  overall.

Picture: July Brunner

Thank you all for the fun racing again, and organizing the event which made it possible for everyone to race again!!

Now we are off to the next adventure: Rocarasso! Which will be the final stop of the world snowkite tour in long distance, racing and gps – winners will be the World Campions toooo. But first home for some night shifts and study.

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Uncategorized, What`s Next #kitevanlife

10 reasons why: Vanlife makes you happy

10 reasons why.. vanlife makes you happy.

Everything about being home is easy, a loving dog, an awesome family, great parents. Safe surroundings. Work to choose from, kitespots all around, knowing the best conditions for each spot. University around the corner. A walk in the park.

The fridge with cold drinks, the plugs in the wall where you just charge your phone every second of the day without thinking & running out of power. A gym on the attic of the house, the soccer field around the corner. The hot shower after a cold surf session, not even taking off the wetsuit at the beach, driving home just like that. A kitchen you can stand in.  A bed that`s always levelled straight, the washing machine….. Everything you need.. or…?

Those easy life aspects go out of the window. Screw this: I wanna go.  It will ask a bit of adjusting in the beginning, but vanlife living brings the best out of you:

1. Expect nothing, so everything feels like a win

The best part of vanlife is that you expect nothing and because of that everything that happens feels like a win. It’s an unknown adventure on the long highway to everywhere, you never know what’s around the corner. The factory, the church, the awesome beach or incredible view. But once it gets there you really appreciate it and see the true beauty of it and that makes it all really special. (also when you finally find a public restroom after 2 weeks of bush pooping). Or that hot shower…

2. You Gain an Incredible Sense Of Freedom

Come and go as you please. No deadlines, no schedules, no pressure – from no one, nobody looking over your shoulder if you do “things” the “right” way: what screams more..? Not being strapped anymore to that storm called “stress” and being able to do whatever you want whenever you want. With nothing but unknow destinations, unknow roads and places, just your little home on four wheels and yourself. Vanlife opens you up to this incredible sense of freedom – you can`t even imagine right now.

It might not be completely like that: buy a van and go, never come back. But it’s definitely worth it. Whether it’s a week trip, sleeping by neighbors on the field, a family holiday in a hired camper or a never ending road trip in your own self converted van. Whatever you trickers: the sense of freedom will have you high on life.

3. You Seize Every Opportunity

Living in a van you will seize every opportunity. Not one day is spend logging around, watching tv all day, chilling on the couch or sleeping till noon. Instead you will be up at dawn, to see whatever sound there is on the other side of the door or how the view looks like out there today with the first sun light. Catching the first waves before the wind kicks in and you`ll rig your kite.

You will meet people travelling the opposite of your “intended plan” and you think yourself… fuck it I come along to that waterfall inland. Or you meet fellow kiters chasing the wind on the other side of the island and you turn  around to be there before the next sunset session. You see a sign pointing rock formation and think what the hell, let’s check it out. Or another amazing beach, kitespot with other vanlifers, although you were aiming drive another hour… instead you decide – let`s stay here!  You chase the wind, catch the next wave, ride off into the sunset,  and itch for adventure, what else is there to do..?

You get the point: These decisions are opportunities, the opportunity of freedom.

Slowly you will start to go with the flow, the days will smoothly flooding in each other and you will live in the moment: taking it day by day and loving every moment of it!

4. You learn Things, A lot Of Things

With an unknow adventure ahead, your own little home on four wheels, it will be not a surprise that you learn a lot of things.  For instance the car parts, how to fix the car when you break down. From filling up the oil, chancing tires to the electrical parts. Within this journey you learn to trust yourself when you have to figure it out on your own. To be creative and  not give up after one time trying.  And when it actually works out it is pretty damn cool!

You got to know yourself, how it is to live on 5 square foot, to travel alone, discover the vanlife-vibe. But you will be alright!

Along the way you learn about the country and the culture. You meet inspiring people, you never forget, you have to go through scary moments and challenges, but that all makes you grow.  You learn about the big question: Who Am I ..? .. and once you think you know it all… there is always more.. The best life lessons are usually free of charge.

5. You Stop Taking Things For Granted

Soon the further you get in your vanlife journey, you will stop taking things for granted. First the obvious things like when you have a shower for the first time in days and putting on clean clothes you just washed at the gas station, or the random campground you found. After this there is no way back and slowly, but surely (sometimes even without noticing) you will learn to stop taking the little things for granted. 

Like the cool breeze that hits you after cracking the door open on a hot night. The water that is finally boiling after being for nearly  20 minutes on the little portable gas stove. Yes, even when you realize you have enough coins for the toll road or the hot monthly shower.

Simple life pleasures that usually are taken so easy for granted, living the vanlife you value every moment of it. 

6. You Experience Things You Never Would Have

When living the vanlife, you spend more time exploring the places you want, smaller, more remote and local, than with travelling. With travelling your always off to a certain location (especially when dragging all boardbags behind), and bouncing from the airport to the city to the beach, to the competition area –  mostly not really the remote places or the nicest kite spots – beaches. Now there is the time to slow down,  time to figure out what is life like 100 km left and 100 km right, without any pressure. Now I had the time to find my own way, places I got to know down the road, unheard places  and I like too explorer. Drive the direction of the wind and waves..

Sleeping right on a remote kitespot, pumping the kite next to your little home on wheels. Rolling from your bed straight into the best view ever. Not knowing when to come back, exploring remote places living by the day.

One night I  parked at an amazing free parking spot (apparently) in the dark, not knowing this awesome spot, how beautiful it was, turning out in the perfect sunrise surf… but I did know and realized I would have looked right past it, if it weren’t the home on four wheels who brought me there. From random little spots to bigger cities this was one of a hundred unforgettable moments I would missed out in if I wasn’t in a van – Far away from the civilization, the daily stress and expectations, I was and still am feeling blessed and grateful living the kitevanlife some parts of my life!

7. You Focus On Yourself And Your Own Shit

Might be the best part of all. In daily life it’s easy to caught up in every one else `s live, soap series, drama, goals, problems, dreams…. Opinions, stories about you, you never told. People that think they know you… clearly not. That ain`t you. And you need to realize it, you gotta look out after YOU and only you. It`s your life.  Follow your passion!

During vanlife you will learn to let go of things, learn what really matters the most, what is important for you – the “things” you can’t live without  and the “things” you can live without & focus on that, that what is important for you. Some things you can`t control – it`s what it is – take it how it comes.

And  that, the end of the day is what makes you happy.   


8. You Turn A Little Wild.. And Going Wild For A While Isn`t A Bad Thing

For the part I wasn`t that wild child  of the class already, vanlife made it even better.  Just a little moment right before you start the vanlife, tell your mind & body that things are going to get a little wild.. But who said wild is a bad thing..??

Be prepared your life and hygiene standards will drop immediately. A mirror becomes luxury.  You will learn to sleep with SO MUCH sand in your bed it seems natural… changing the sheets… hardly. Brushing your tooths with gum and the old water found under the seat, because of running out of toothpaste.  Clothes that you usually washed already twice are now perfectly fine, getting used to the new smell of clean.

You learn to pee outside, yes on places you ones thought they were far too pubic. And number too..?? Get used to the old bush poo – with a view.

You start eating food, normally thrown away, or kept in the fridge. You will get creative cooking and eating. Using little dishes as possible because no dishwasher or unlimited water. But you save money on shampoo. You will sleep in random side off the road places and parking lots (in between the truckers or in front of someone doorstep..), not really caring if its safe to do so.

How does this turn out positive..?? Well all these things are going wild for a little, letting go, caring less, living more is seriously the best.  Not knowing peoples opinion, doing your own best, being the best version of yourself. You awake a sense of ridiculousness inside of you, one that got lost along the lines of being that snotty nose child and that working class adult. Doing things you never ever thought about doing.  Like the times I randomly showered in a hotel, invited myself for breakfast and chilled at the pool for a few days….. Welcome to your wild side!

9. You Get To Know All Sorts Of People … And Learn  A Life Lesson Or 10

These one is the one some are scared of, feeling lonely, not bounding. I can say one thing, pretty quick every time again, your easy bound to meet people that are one of their own.

All different sorts of awesome people: Old, Young, chasing the dream, digital nomads, Surfers chasing waves or the wind, your grandparents who never got the chance to travel when they were younger, holiday enjoyers, the ones that have been everywhere already, Students, professional kitesurfers and all somewhere in between.

All with their own unique story. My advice is, take interest, respect the differences and listen. Listen to their experience, advice and stories. You will learn a thing or… what.. I promise.

10. You Live More With Less

This concept will change your life if you let it. Living more with less. With the time you will become 100% happy with the things you have in your little home.  The little basket with folded clothes, the few shirts you own, happy that the iron thing doesn’t work here. Happy when the battery of your phone runs flat and you have to wait for charging t until the leisure battery got charged by the solar panel. Happy with the fact that you don`t have a lot, but you have enough!

As simply as that. Happy vanlife! 😊

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