Return to the World Tour (as a single mom)

I had been competing for nine years when I unexpectedly stopped for three years. My last competition was in November 2019.  Beginning of 2020 I found out I was pregnant and around the same time the world went into lockdown.

In 2019 I had a crazy schedule with competitions. I competed in Japan / Bonaire / Oregon / Fuerteventura / Tenerife / Peru / Maui, both wave and freestyle disciplines and both PWA and IWT World Tours. I think it was my most busy competition year, and at the end of the year I was exhausted and feeling like a little break from the competitions (little did I know…).

All competitions got cancelled in 2020, so it turned out that my timing of being pregnant was perfect ;-). After so many years of competing I was already getting hungry for something different and new things to grow and to challenge myself. I moved my focus from freestyle to wave already; because the waves were such a big and exciting new challenge for me. Freestyle is the discipline I am best in, and I love it, but it’s also an extremely technical and time consuming discipline that takes so much self discipline and hours and hours on the water every day, training the same moves over and over again.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED competing and I LOVE freestyle, I still do, but I just felt ready for a new challenge.

But with COVID we all got forced to stop competing for a while, it was not a choice for anyone.

So, this year, with Aya being two years old, for the first time since 2019 there was a PWA World Cup again in Fuerteventura. I was not intending to compete, as I really got into winging lately (both freestyle and waves) and have been spending most of my hours with a wing in my hand, instead of windsurfing.

Also, I am a single mom (not by intention) and I am raising my daughter on my own. So, I am not having all the time of the world anymore to train for competitions (that’s an understatement ;-)).

But there was always this little part in me that didn’t feel that the book was closed yet. So when I got asked to join the World Cup again I decided to just DO IT.

I wanted to bring Aya, because I would be away from home for more than ten days and I know she would struggle being separated for so many days. However, tickets were crazy expensive so I couldn’t afford to fly a nanny or a friend in to help me take care of Aya while I was competing (and everything around that… rigging the sails, preparing for the heats, get some rest).

I must admit.. I felt a little nervous about this whole idea, the moment after I booked the tickets. What was I thinking??! Traveling with ALL the gear, with Aya, to the competition without a nanny, and with a two year old who still NEVER sleeps through the night without waking up.

All those years one of my main focus before competing was getting good sleep in. I can really laugh about that now…the fear of having one bad night of sleep, after three years of walking up several times a night!

Anyway. Aya and I flew to Fuerteventura together, with all my windsurf gear, her stroller, her carseat and normal luggage. The flight was smooth, and Aya was excited for our holiday.

Maaike Huvermann, one of my best friends on Tour, helped me so much with Aya. She picked us up from the airport and brought us to our hotel. We woke up early, had a dive in the swimming pool, breakfast and after Aya her afternoon nap we went to the beach to get my sails rigged. Aya became friends with Maaike straight away, so I even got a little hour to test the gear and the conditions on the water as they were playing together.

I was even more blessed with amazing friends, because Eva and Balz, both competitors on Tour and also a couple with a little girl, offered to take care of Aya during competition (when Maaike would be busy competing too). Aya and Lotta enjoyed each others company and I had had time to prepare everything also before and after the heats. It’s actually a lot of stuff to get ready and prepare, besides just sailing the competition heats.

My first heat was a very important one. Winning that one would secure me a maximum of a fifth place in competition. I was against Lina Erpenstein. A very good wave sailor and friend of mine. I knew that I have the better cards in freestyle competition against her, but the conditions were tricky with very strong wind and waves. However, I started of perfect. Landed a funnel, forward, switch kono and shove it and knew half way in my heat already that with those moves I probably had won already.

But then- I saw Maaike waving at the beach at me and saw they put up the cancelation flag. I went up to the beach, and they told me they made a mistake in the heat before our one with the calculation of moves. I got upset; because they could have canceled either BEFORE the start of our heat, or AFTER, but to cancel a heat halfway because of a mistake in a different heat still sounds RIDICULOUS and very unprofessional to me.

They told me they will start the heat all over again- and that I had exactly two minutes to get ready. I disagreed, I lost my focus and my gear was all the way downwind. But they started anyway, and with my head not in the right mindset I crashed ALL my moves- don’t think I ever sailed such a bad heat in my life. And I lost.

I remembered again – that mindset is everything. And also that it can be my weak point, because when I find something unfair I can’t just stop the feelings and put my competition mind on again. Also a good reminder why I really struggle with competition sometimes,  in windsurfing. It’s a judge sport, and not always as professional as you would hope from a Professional World Tour.

But. Normally I would be upset for days about it. Having Aya with me, going to the pool with her, laugh and cuddle with her, it helped me so much to put it in perspective and to get over it and move on with it.

In the double elimination I managed not only to really ENJOY my heats, I also sailed good and solid heats and managed to win and climb back up to sixth place.

Looking back at this adventure, I am so happy we did it. Yes it was hard work. After long days of competing there is no time to rest or chill but taking care of Aya. But it was so worth it. It felt special to have been able to combine my atlete life with motherhood, feeling the help of friends and mainly feeling so much love and proud for Aya who was my best ever company and buddy.

It’s not the result that I will remember, it’s the memories of having Aya with me and her happy face coming off the water that will I will keep with me.

Thanks to my sponsors, my dear friends for their help and everyone cheering and believing in me (in us!).