With a podium dominated almost entirely by Caribbean and Venezuelans over the last years it has been a hard fight for any European riders to break into those much desired trophy spots. Only Steven Van Broeckhoven has managed to put a halt to the domination, until now. After a self-admitted less than ideal start to the year, it was to be Dieter Van Der Eyken’s charge in Fuerte that ultimately left him standing above all at this years podium here in Sylt.
We caught up with a an ecstatic yet humble Van Der Eyken earlier in the day, at the point where he already knew the title was to be his.
Over to Dieter…
BS: World Champion, how does that feel?
DE: Haha, I’m still the same person but yeah for sure it feels like a dream come true, I think it will take a few weeks to realise it. Just like winning the fuerte event took a few weeks to sink in, but yeah I’m just totally overstoked.
BS: So you join Steven as a Belgian World Champion in freestyle, what’s in the Belgian blood?
DE: Motivation I think, I think we have don’t have perfect conditions, we have a lot of different conditions, so we go out whenever it is windy and so we have so much motivation. I used to wait often for weekends and wednesday afternoon sessions and I think this has carried on through my career to keep my motivation high, even to this day.
BS: Word on the street is that you are the youngest Euro PWA champ ever, is that true?
DE: Yes, actually there are only two others, Antoine Albeau in 2001, and Steven, these are the only other European Champions. I guess that is nice to be a part of.
BS: So what do you think you have done so differently as a European rider to take the title?
DE: I think I had a Dad who was even more motivated than I was, he used to windsurf all the time and because I was there I did too. I was good at school, this also helped, by working hard there I got more time on the water. For sure the guys I was training with when I was younger as well; myself, Davy, Steven would push each other at Brouwersdam to the max, and now we have 3-4 rides in the top 10 just from the same spot. I think that is one of the biggest influences, to have friends who are pushing the level with you at the same spot, it’s what the Bonaire guys have, what Gollito used to have with Ricardo, so who you grow up with is really affecting you as well.
BS: So who was doing the moves first, and who was the guy who you were all looking up to?
DE: I did my first air gybe when I was 11, Steven was 19 when I met him and I was just 13 and Davy I met when I was 12 because he came to a clinic where I was learning the spock and he was learning the air gybe.
BS: Do you think the guys were chasing you for a while?
DE: For Davy, yes I think so, but Steven was doing grubbies and spocks when I met him, I guess he has been the leading figure in all this.
BS: So what about this infamous rivalry between you and Davy, how has this developed?
DE: Right from the very first contest, we straight away were wanting to get one up on each other, to be honest if this ‘rivalry’ didn’t exist there is a strong possibility we wouldn’t be at the level we are now. We met at all national events and he would win and I would win and so on, he would learn this move and me that and we would step it up. It was a rivalry that was around 7/8 years but it has worn off a little since we grew up a bit and spend less time together.
BS: Back to the world title, tell us how you plan to celebrate?
DE: Errr, well there’ll be a few bottles at the bar tonight… but to be honest I want to do something with my family and friends at home. We will celebrate a bit at the EFPT event as well with my windsurfing friends at Brouwersdam next week. Knowing my family I’m sure it’ll be quite a big thing… Then there is still the rest of the wave tour to focus on.
BS: Talking of which, how do you want to do in the last two wave events?
DE: Well in France, because Maui might be hard for top 16, I would like to get in top 16. My main focus is on next year, top 16 is where I want to be, obviously better, but I’ll keep it realistic for now. I just need to work on my jumps really.
BS: So you have some decent winter training plans?
DE: Yes I’m off to Australia for the winter, two and half months training with Jaeger Stone and Amado Vrieswijk, this is where I plan to train the jumping and then off to Morocco for one month and six weeks in Bonaire. A packed winter.
BS: You told us that you didn’t spend a lot of time training freestyle last winter, so wave sailing helps modern freestyle? Why is that?
DE: Yes, well I spend a lot more hours on the water when I am training waves as well. I spent one and half hours freestyling then when I was done I would go to the beach change gear and keep sailing. Yeah and you learn more from jumping, I don’t believe it is more the hours you spend on a certain board but more the hours you spend on the water that helps. The more you sail, the more you practice, the more you get better as windsurfer and to get a world title you need to be a good overall windsurfer, not just good at moves, in the end I think this all helps to adapt to conditions.
Thanks Dieter and congratulations on your incredible result.