01/11/2017

Annabelle van Westerop: the world’s number two kitesurfer on what it took to reach the top

WE TALK to kitesurfing professional Annabelle van Westerop about her journey in the sport so far and what it's taken to become number two ranked kitesurfer in the world.

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Annabelle van Westerop

Annabelle van Westerop moved to Aruba at a young age which gave her a great foundation for her kitesurfing career.

ANNABELLE van Westerop started kitesurfing at the age of 13. Her parents had moved the family to Aruba when she was 11 which meant she was in the perfect environment to fain confidence in the sport. She was hooked almost instantly and having always had a competitive nature it wasn’t long before she was entering events on the water wherever and whenever she could.

 

Soon Annabelle and those around her realised she had a unique talent for the sport and today, still only at the age of 23, she has competed all around the world. She’s currently ranked as the number two kitesurfer on the planet but says she still has lots to prove in the months and years ahead.

 

Here Annabelle talks about her kitesurfing journey, who her biggest mentors have been and goes into detail about some of the highlights out on the oceans of the world.

 

When did you start kitesurfing and who encouraged you to give the sport a go?

 

I first got in touch with kitesurfing when I was just 13 years old and my dad got into the sport. Because I was still so little I first started windsurfing for about six months. After those first months I realized that windsurfing wasn’t for me and I wanted to jump and fly like my dad and the other kiters so when I was 14 I took lessons and was immediately hooked.

 

What were your opportunities like to practise at the beginning and who were your biggest mentors and supporters?

 

My parents and I moved to Aruba when I was 11 which completely changed my life. I was always riding horses competitively before and it was a big change for me to move to Aruba and leave all that behind. I did keep horseback riding for a few years, until kiting came along and quickly took over my life! Living in Aruba was obviously the best place to get into a sport like kitesufing so I consider myself very lucky!

 

My parents are always my biggest supporters in anything I do. They would always be there at the beach and my dad would help me out in the water. Even when I had to make the choice between trying to go pro or continuing my studies after high school, they totally supported my decision to go pro!

 

Annabelle van Westerop

Starting out young it wasn’t long before Annabelle and those around her realised she had a real talent for the sport.

When was it you realised you had a real talent for the sport?

 

What started as a hobby soon became more, and as I have always had a competitive spirit, I joined the annual competition in Aruba which I ended up winning. Not much later I wrote my first sponsor email and got a free board, and before I knew it I continued like this, participating in a few local competitions in Aruba and Venezuela. When I was 18 I signed my first international contract on the day of my high school graduation and I took a leap of faith stepping into this incredible world of pro kiteboarding!

 

What have been some of your biggest kitesurfing achievements to date and where in the world has the sport taken you?

 

This sport to so many places already and I’m only 23 years old which I still find astonishing at times! Some of my favourite travels have been to Brazil, Hawaii. Thailand, The British Virgin Islands, and New Caledonia! My biggest achievements have been this current year because I am currently ranked second in the world! I absolutely love what I do and it is amazing to have it show in my results and it only makes me more grateful for all these opportunities.

 

Annabelle is currently training hard and will be heading out to Brazil and Egypt for competitions in the coming weeks.

What’s the kitesurfing community like and what message would you like to give to those interested in the sport?

 

I consider the kitesurfing community to be very special because unique and different people from all over the world join together with a mutual love for a sport. When travelling it is so easy to meet people through the sport and kitesurfers are usually very open and happy! I would recommend everyone and anyone to get into the sport because it will not only give you a super fun hobby, but it will also give you a very new lifestyle where you’re usually surrounded by happy people and you can spend a bunch of time around the ocean!

 

How hard are you currently training and what competitions do you have coming up in the near future?

 

Competition season is in full swing and we are soon heading to Egypt and Brazil for the continuation of the World Kiteboarding League! Training between competitions to stay fit and be prepared for the next one is very important. I am balancing my trainings and competitions with my university which is sometimes a challenge but it is very motivating! I can’t wait to travel to Egypt and compete again from November 5-12! You can follow it live on the World Kiteboarding League website!

Reader Comments

  • Thais Nierop

    Even though Annabel has travelled the world and is ranked second in the world, she is a super down-to-earth girl. Simple and approachable. I love her charisma combined with her determination to not only excel in Kitesurfing but also in her Academics. All the best Annabel.

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