Blast From The Past
Dieter van der Eyken (Severne / Severne Sails) made his debut on the PWA World Tour a decade ago. From the moment he made his debut the Belgian enjoyed almost instant success - establishing himself as a regular member of the overall top 10, but in 2015 he wrote himself into the windsurfing history books as he won the PWA Freestyle World Title. Since then the 28-year-old has focused more of his attention on wave sailing and he has recorded several top 10 results in the wave discipline, while he remains one of the toughest competitors on the Freestyle Tour. Dieter is next up in ‘Blast From The Past’.
Hey Dieter, take us back to the memory of your very first windsurf experience - where were you?
The first session I’m not 100% sure about, but my earliest memory is from in Portugal in Albufeira.
When was it?
Who were you with?
I learned windsurfing from my dad.
What do you remember from that very first ‘session’?
After going up and down for a few hours I asked my dad to cross the lake, the wind was quite light and I was on a 1.2m while my dad was on a 7.0 sail. I still remember when we were going back my dad crashed and I started to pull away from him. I was quite excited as I was ‘winning’ the race, soon he caught up but even though it was more than 20 years ago I still remember it so well!
Who was your local hero? And why?
To be honest I can’t really remember, I never followed any of the competitions or magazines when I got into windsurfing so probably my hero was my dad! After getting into watching windsurfing movies Francisco Goya was definitely one of my favourite sailors because of his positive attitude and amazing style on the waves.
What gear were you using?
I was using a Mistral Softop with a 1.2m sails. The board could be used both as a long board and a good beginner board for little kids. In the end it didn’t take long before I switched to my dad's small wave boards.
Describe your feeling when you were planing for the first time…
I can’t remember it, I started sailing when I was 6 or 7 years old & honestly can only remember crossing the lake with my dad for the first time & I have been windsurfing ever since.
How did you realise you were becoming a professional windsurfer?
I didn’t until I was one, I kind of just rolled into it at the right time. At Brouwersdam we were quite a big group of Freestylers, who pushed each other a lot but we had no idea about our competitive level on the world tour. We were competing in our own little bubble sort to say and then when Steven van Broeckhoven got on the European Tour & suddenly finished 4th overall in his first year on tour we all started to dream a little bit.. But back then I was still at school and couldn’t participate at the events I wanted to. I could only do selected ones and it wasn’t really until 2009 when I got 3rd on the EFPT in Naxos I believed windsurfing could be more than just a hobby. After that it went quick and now I’ve been on tour for 10 years already.
Give a tip for the next generation…
Always keep doing what you love, windsurfing is a sport driven by passion and that should be the main goal when doing this. Also always have a clear idea of where you want to go and work towards this. Don’t copy someone else’s path, but create your own, every person is different.