Sailor in Focus

He has high hopes of making the top five in 2012, and has be training his power moves in both directions this winter. We catch up with Belgian freestyler Dieter Van der Eyken.

Dieter Van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne) stormed into the PWA competition scene in 2010 and since then he has grown from strength to strength on the water. 2011 was a particularly successful year for Van der Eyken as he finished the year in eighth position and made it into the top ten at every event on the freestyle series. His high precision style is a delight to watch and often scores particularly highly with the judges. We managed to track down Van der Eyken in-between trips abroad and studying for exams to find out a little bit more.

PWA: Firstly, what are your thoughts on the 2011 season and how would you rate your result?

Van der Eyken: “2011 was a great season for me, I made it into the top 8 with a top 10 result at every event with my best in Vietnam scoring a 5th place. At the beginning of the season I never expected this as I didn’t have any winter training at all, I just went to Vietnam three weeks before the competition but besides that I was just home. So I would give my season an 8/10 considering the training.”

PWA: How long have you been windsurfing?

Van der Eyken: “I’ve been windsurfing since I was seven so already twelve years. Actually I wanted to learn when I was four but my father couldn't find the proper gear back then so I had to wait till I was seven, but I was addicted from the first second.”

PWA: Who has been you biggest influence on your sailing?

Van der Eyken: “I think that has to be Kiri because he has so much control in his maneuvers and has the best technique in the whole freestyle fleet.”

PWA: What would you be doing if you weren’t windsurfing?

Van der Eyken: “I have no idea, windsurfing has always been in my life. But I guess I would have been doing cycling as when I was young I was riding my bike day in day out.”

PWA: Where is your favorite place to windsurf and why?
Van der Eyken: “I’ve sailed lots of places and it’s hard to choose a favorite one but if I have to choose it would be Coronation (Geraldton) in Western-Australia, in November I did a trip there and loved that place as I could freestyle in the front where it was flat and wave sail 300 meters out where the waves where breaking.

PWA: What is your favorite move and why?
Van der Eyken: “Shaka definitely, I just love the feeling of flying through the air. You can do the move on flat water, in big chop and even off waves. The higher the better!

PWA: What move did you find the hardest to learn and why? 
Van der Eyken: “Shaka, it took me a year to land my first one and another year to learn them with my eyes closed but it’s definitely worth it, maybe that’s why it became my favorite move because it took so long to learn.”

PWA: What new moves are you currently learning?
Van der Eyken: “I am trying to get more consistent in my moves both ways, like this I hope to be able to do all the power moves on both sides. Besides that I’m working more on combination moves and improving my jumps for when there are waves.”

PWA: How do you learn your moves? Videos? Watching others? 
Van der Eyken: “Videos, lots of videos…but also training with friends and people who are better or are on the same level as you. That’s what I was missing a last winter and will try to do more this winter by going to Bonaire for example.”

PWA: Where is your favorite spot on the PWA freestyle tour and why?
Van der Eyken: “Bonaire, it’s freestyle heaven. Flat water, stable winds and just all about the fun. It was the first time in three years when I went there again for the PWA and I really was happy to be back.”

PWA: How does competition make you feel? And how to do prepare for your heats?
Van der Eyken: “I like it because it’s a great moment to test your level compared to other people it gives you a chance to see how far you are in your level. To prepare for my heats I usually first check the conditions and than try to think which moves I will do, I always have a bit of rhythm in my heats and try to find out what scores the best.”

PWA: What do you do when you’re not windsurfing? 
Van der Eyken: “It depends how close to my exams I am, now I’m only studying for my exams which I have now in January but otherwise I’m more busy with doing my e-mails, making plans for a next trip, making movies and keep my body in shape by fitness.”

PWA: What are your goals for 2012?

Van der Eyken: “Top 5, it’s not going to be easy but definitely possible, I have more winter training this year than I ever had before and I hope it will pay of. Also I just want to have as much fun as possible and go to new places.”