Semi-professional windsurfer and lover of life. Grew up on a farm in the north of Holland (the Netherlands) and started windsurfing at the age of 17. Before windsurfing she was riding horses and already liked to do all kinds of sports. She loved to go ice-skating, snowboarding and mountain biking, most of all other outdoor sports. She was immediately addicted to windsurfing when she started in 2001 Heleen and has never stopped since.
In 2008 she went to Curacao to give windsurfing lessons at the local windsurfing school. After her studies in 2010 she injured her knee, got an operation and moved to the south of Holland, she recovered, kept on windsurfing and started to give windsurfing lessons around her new hometown. In 2012 she moved from the city to the west coast and worked one season at the Brouwersdam windsurfing centre in Holland.
In 2012 Heleen was crowned the Dutch Freestyle Champion. In 2013 she entered her first PWA World Cup Freestyle Competition after spending one winter in Bonaire and working one summer in Sardinia, Italy. In 2014 she went to Cape Town, South Africa for two months to work on her freestyle and she got addicted to wave sailing. Last summer she entered her first world cup wave competition in the Canary Islands. She is now living with her partner in Port de la Selva, Spain and will be spending the winter in Cape Town, South Africa.
I like to learn new moves every year. My focus now is getting better in the waves and making my moves more radical and consistent.
In windsurfing, I’d love to land a double forward.
It’s hard work to do any sport at a high and consistent level and therefore it is important to be healthy. Windsurfing is a sport that depends on the wind, you have to live your life in a flexible way as the weather changes.
When there is no wind I have to find other activities that keep me balanced to perform well when the wind picks up. I think for all sports it can be difficult if you start to suffer with chronic injuries. Having to take even one day off if the conditions are good is the most difficult part. I had an old injury in my wrist that I didn’t give enough time to heal. Now it’s getting better.
To get better and perform well in my sport it’s really helpful to train all year round in good conditions. Investment is high when it comes to moving around the world to find consistent wind and waves. To be able to do it all, compete, travel and train, it is helpful to have sponsors who can help you to go in all the competitions.
For me it is the combination of progress, results and fun! I feel satisfied when I land new moves and get good results. But fun, the surroundings and sharing happiness can’t be forgotten.
I love sunsets, birds, beach life and the smiles of friends on the water, this is a big part of my satisfaction. I’m able to windsurf in beautiful places with good conditions, for this I’m really thankful.
Sometimes it happens I’m sailing alone at my home spot, when it’s sunny and not windy it is nice to do low wind freestyle. It is really good for your sail techniques.
Well I’m not sure what the key to success is. I count how often I make a certain move and try to push myself in any conditions. I’m always working to learn new tricks and maintain consistency.
Before I start learning a move I study continentseven online. I try to understand what they are doing, the position of the hands, body, sail and board. After this, it is all about trying to get it dialed. When we are having a long day of wind I often ask my boyfriend to take pictures or videos. It is really good to look at these in the evenings.
Last summer I worked with a coach, Josep Pons, who helped me to polish up my moves in Pozo, Gran Canaria. He analyses, makes videos and his clear, technical explanation really help you to stay on the right track.
I also think that fun is a key to success, you learn a lot faster when you enjoy what you are doing and just relax and go!
I think it is being judged. Many people are watching you and have an opinion, some want you to do well and win and the others would rather see you fail. In the end, you have to be ready to perform and show your abilities in a short time and this isn’t always that easy.
The pressure you have to deal with is a big part of competing. You can be a really good athlete but in competitions you can make mistakes. In the end we learn from mistakes and it just makes your surfing better after all the pressure has gone.
My mother is my biggest fan. She will always support me, from the start to the end. And my boyfriend, he loves what I’m doing and wants me to keep on doing it. He was also a high-level athlete in another sport and understands the path I’m on and helps me with all my ups and downs.
It’s not about the goal, it’s about the path you follow to achieve this goal. If the path is longer and you enjoy the journey, it will be better for you – rather than doing it just because you want to finish it and go for a new goal.
I don’t know how to translate it directly from Dutch but my grandmother tells me ‘heb lief’, which means something like “do things with love”.
Keep on building myself up in my sports and as a person. I would like to create an event with SUP and windsurfing clinics in my new hometown and help local kids to grow themselves in their (water) sports.
Two years ago I started the website wan2surf.com. It’s a website for kids and beginners who would like to start windsurfing. I’ll update this with new material next season to make it more useful for smaller windsurfing schools.
I have recently started to live with my boyfriend and I’m looking to do something with SUP & advanced windsurfing lessons in combination with a cafe surf bar next to the windsurfing school.