Een interview met Arrianne Aukes, "From Holland to Brazil" (engelstalig).
'From Holland to Brazil'
We do not read that much women's interviews in the windsurfing magazines. However, they have their own competitions in the slalom, wave and freestyle divisions. Addicted to ride since she is a kid, dutch girl Arrianne Aukes chose the freestyle discipline to express herself on a windsurf board. 4th on the PWA Freestyle Tour and 2nd on the European Freestyle Championships in 2016, the ice eyes blondie shares her story and experience with us as a 'windsurf girl' from a different perspective: through questions asked by another windsurf addicted girl.
It is during a trip last december in Brazil, Jericoacoara, that my girlfriend and I met Arrianne. In 'Jeri', everybody knows her because she comes here every winter since 2008. Last year, my girlfriend got hooked up with windsurfing. She became so addicted to the sport that she started to watch all kind of videos, followed the riders on facebook and instagram, was reading the magazines and spotted Arrianne on a few pictures. As an amateur, she was wondering about the dutch pro's lifestyle and career. Since when did she practice ? How did she get there ? How does she pay her winter trip ? So many questions that simply gave me the idea to write this article - a pro rider's girl portrait done by another curious and passionate girl, amateur rider.
Age : 30
From : Sonnega (Nederlands)
Best results : 4th on the PWA Freestyle Tour 2016 / 2nd on the EFPT European Freestyle Championships 2016 / 2nd on the PWA Freestyle Tour 2013 / Dutch Wave Champion 2015 / 2nd PWA INDOOR Warsaw 2014
Sponsors : North Sails / Fanatic / Ion / Maui Ultra Fins / Pousada Windjeri / Telstar Surfclub
Sail number : H131
When did you start windsurfing ?
I started very early as my parents were both windsurfers - now they still windsurf. But I think I was 9-10 years old. I have a younger sister and an older brother. Besides the fact that my younger sister does not windsurf anymore, we are pretty much a windsurf family !
How did you get hooked in ?
With my parents, we always went windsurfing during the holidays and during the week-ends. From that time, I have always loved to windsurf and liked the feeling of windsurfing.
When did you decide to do competitions ?
I never really choose to be a professional. In fact, in 2008, I went to Brazil for a surf trip and my plan was to learn the 'duck jibe' during this trip. But it was then that I saw freestyle for the first time. Perhaps because I always used to do gymnastics, I loved the mix of tricks and windsurfing. So I said to myself 'wow ! This is amazing' ! That is how I get hooked to freestyle. But I was already 22 years old at the time I land my first Vulcan. From then, I finished my studies and focussed on freestyle. I tried some local competitions in Holland, then started to be part of the Dutch Championships and got my first sponsors around 2010.
As a girl, was it easy for you to find sponsors ?
I first got some help from a local shop in Holland, they knew me since I was a kid and as my results got better I got more sponsors. But it is definitely not easy to find sponsors and I think for a girl it is even harder than for a man.
Did your parents helped you and supported you ?
I think some riders who compete might have a financial help from their parents from the start. It is an expensice sport. I never get any financial help from my parents. I have always paid my trips by myself, I have always worked in between and also now, I wouldn't accept any money from them. But you know, they are still my biggest supporters and I couldn't do it without their help. They were there for me since the moment I could use their gear when I was young, they always pick me up at the airport, I can always stay in their house between trips; they supported me in that way.
And when did you start to compete on the European Championships and the World Tour ?
In 2010, I entered the Professional World Tour for the first time. I finished in the last position !
But why did you go for freestyle - and not wave, or slalom ?
I love the feeling of doing all sorts of tricks. Maybe because I always have practiced gymnastics. It is so challenging and it can be so frustrating. The freestyle discipline can be frustrating too, as you need to try 500 times to launch a perfect move. Every time you crash, you improve. It's a really mental game as well. But I also love the other disciplines and done the entire Wave Tour as well last year.
Was it difficult, as a girl, to be part of these international events, without knowing anybody ?
I feel that the girls in freestyle are really close to each other. They really help each other. So the welcome was pretty warm and they took care of me. But I recon it can be scary for a girl at the start, just to come in and finish last.
So you mean there is not much concurrence between the girls in competition ?
I think it's harder for the girls compared to the boys, maybe because we are not so many and we are always facing each other. In the boys division, it is different. So for that matter I think there is more concurrence between girls. Outside competition, we are also really close and good friends, like a family.
Do you have the same feeling with the girls doing the wave discipline ?
Yes, but I think the women in this discipline are a bit older and perhaps therefore they are less scared to take the step and enter for the first time. In freestyle, the girls that come in are younger. So we have to help them and support them a bit more.
How does your contract work with your sponsors actually ?
It depends on the sponsor. One sponsor finds Social Media important, another finds good results or me being at an event more important. For some sponsors I have to participate in the freestyle events as well as in local events. I need to show up there and keep in touch with them. But I have no big obligations.
So how do you plan your year ?
I am pretty bad in making plans (laughs) ! Because it is so hard with the competitions to decide where it is good to go, but I always spent 2 months in Brazil for training before Christmas. Then I spent some time at home with my family. After that, I just look where it is windy and where the competitions are gonna be, so I fly there in order to get used to the spot before the event starts. But I also do some 'girls clinics' at home in Holland and around.
Is it your main activity now ? Do you live from your passion ?
I cannot really say that. I do live of it but this only works because of the clinics I organize, because I work on the side in places like Brazil (in a restaurant), because I live very cheap (I still live with my parents when I am in Holland) and because I have the help of a sponsor that pays some of my flight tickets. But it is not like a normal job where you can save some money.
Do you have a coach, a training coach or someone that takes care of your image ?
No, I do everything myself. I get some help from my local gym in Holland, but besides that I have to figure it out by myself what to eat, how to train, where to go, which moves to learn. I’m not so good in making websites etc, and as a windsurfer pro it is necessary to be good with Social Media and video editing, etc. But almost nobody has a coach, so we do help and teach each other a lot. The boys can get an income from their sponsors, so they can pay a coach. But I always try to stay fit in between the events or trips and eat healthy.
Do you have a boyfriend ? If yes, how do you organize your love life ?
No, I don't have a boyfriend. I had one for a few years when I was on Tour already, we were travelling a lot together. But it's hard to be with someone while I travel so much. I think it is a bit easier for the boys who compete to have a girlfriend. They are always happy to travel and join them, they make photos and videos or go shopping (laughs). But in the opposite, the boys do not like to follow the girls. You know, in freestyle, they don't want to be worse than the girls. And it's also hard if you meet someone that is a non windsurfer, when it is such a big part of your life ! I prefer it when I can windsurf together with somebody as for me it's nice to share.
As a professional windsurf girl now, how do you see your future as a working girl, as a wife, as a mum... ? Is this something you think about or not ?
Yes, it’s definitely something I think about especially because I can barely live of this passion. It is a question I ask myself every year : do I have to stop ? But it is such a big passion, and now I start with waves and I feel 'oh, maybe I can get better next year' and this challenge is so nice. I know that it is special that I get this chance and I want to take it and enjoy it. But at the same time I know that one day I would want to have kids and a family, and I would also want to give them an opportunity like my parents gave me. I think this is important. But I believe sometimes you should not worry or think too much about it. I never expected myself to become a professional windsurfer but it happened. And I think that is how it goes with many things in life!
Text : Steve Palier - Open Ocean Media & Agnes Haury
Pics : Emanuela Cauli / Andrea Montorfano / Laura Watts / Matthew Watts / Agnes Haury