Wintertrip: part 2. Japan

After living in our van for six weeks I almost fell a bit sad leaving our little van behind! Van life is a simple way of living and for me I realised once again it’s my favourite way of living. Especially when you wake up by sunshine and with the view and sound of rolling waves in your backyard 😉

Enough day dreaming; back to the airport of Perth, ready to fly to Japan. It was not very easy to find a ticket with good policies for bringing our windsurf gear so we decided to take as little as possible. I got help from Duotone and Fanatic in Japan with some gear there, which was a great help. After 22 hours of flying we arrived in Japan, and we got picked up by the organiser of the IWT Omaezaki Japan Cup. This was the first stop of the IWT, who has many stops this year (all in famous windsurf places) and equal price money for men and women (!!!). The first international windsurf Tour who has ever achieved that.

Our welcome to Omaezaki was great. People are so helpful and polite, it’s simply not even possible to explain in this blog. It wasn’t windy on our first day but we got offered to go Stand Up Paddling at the Omaezaki beach. The weather was a bit of a shock after Australia, while actually they said it was way too warm for the time of the year. In the evening we got invited to a little welcome BBQ, with typical Japanese dishes and Sake. Super tasty!


The next morning I woke with an arm I couldn’t move. I never felt something like this in my shoulder before, but I knew it was something bad straight away. The pain didn’t go away at all, it only got worse during the day. Although nothing specific had happened the day before. But… I had a feeling it had to do something with windsurfing all day long in Australia for weeks in a row, without doing any stretching or yoga (the only bad thing about living in a van). This in combination with the long flight, some bad nights of sleep, the cold weather and going Stand Up Paddling with a too long paddle in really cold water and big waves I think might have been a little bit too much for my body.

I decided to take rest and enjoy some sightseeing around Omaezaki. We are super lucky because it was the time of the cherry blossom! So beautiful. All volunteers of the event were amazing showing us around everywhere. We went to a green tea tasting, waterfalls close to Mount Fuji, a castle and of course to many Japanese restaurants. There was a fast food sushi restaurant in front of our hotel and we were going there at least once a day! Best thing ever. I never go to Mac Donalds and that type of fast food restaurants.. but this sushi one was incredible!

This happened only a few days before the start of the competition. Flying so far, investing all that money in this trip and of course being so excited to compete in Japan I tried to give it lots of rest to heal in time. After a few days it did not improve much so I went to see a doctor. He told me my shoulder was very inflamed because of overuse, a sort of tendinitis. After a lot of doubt (I don’t think cortisone injections are good for you) I did make the decision to take an injection. The pain was so bad and the inflammation very big. After a day or so it slowly started to get better.

The day of the strong wind arrived and the competition was on. Still in doubt whether or not to compete ( I could still not even close my jacket myself, let alone rig up my sails), but after a convincing peptalk from Amanda and Berk (just give it a try! there is a jetski who can rescue you if you realise you can’t windsurf) I decided to try to sail my heat. Berk was being the best help ever rigging all my sails and I did some exercises in the meantime which my physiotherapist recommended me.

And it went well! I was taking it very easy, I was so focussed on my shoulder that I was not as nervous as normal. I didn’t think about winning, I was thinking about windsurfing. It’s funny how windsurfing becomes like walking when you do it so much.. how your body takes over, using my core and harness, and how little I had to use my shoulder. I managed to get in to the finals. The final heat was just wave riding, which was lucky with my shoulder, and.. I WON!

It was great seeing so many women on the water, and to feel what a special windsurf community they are. The women invited us for a typical Japanese dinner the day after, and once again I felt overwhelmed by their kindness.

Overall it was an amazing trip and an unforgettable experience. The Japanese culture is so fascinating. We are so individualistic here in Europe, which I love, but their way of thinking was very inspiring and their hospitality touching. Thanks to all of you who helped me, showed us around and for showing us your country and culture!