Turning Windsurfing Passion into Personal Growth Project For Kids with Learning Disabilities

Tell me how did windsurfing start for you?

When I was a young girl, my parents always took me to a lake for recreation. My brother started windsurfing and that is why we were there on weekends and holidays. When my brother was on shore I quickly grabbed the sail and ‘surfed’ on the shore. When I was about 8 years old I started windsurfing myself.

Are you a pro rider? Tell me more about that.

Unfortunately, I am not a pro rider. As a teenage girl, I was certainly interested in the life of a windsurfer and I certainly fantasized about it … but I didn’t get any further than a passionate amateur. When I was 23, after college, I dropped out because of work and moving further away from a lake or sea. When I returned to the Grevelingenmeer after 20 years to reminisce with my mother, the weather was lovely and the wind was pretty good. I asked my mother to sit on the terrace with a cup of coffee and rented a windsurfing set. I was stoked again. In a very short time, I bought some stuff and found a nice spot near my hometown. From that moment on I can be found regularly on the water!

Do you have a “regular” job?

Yes, I have a regular job as a lecturer at a university of applied sciences. In addition, I have my own company supporting children with learning disabilities.

Do you have a family?

I have a family with a partner and two teenagers; a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy. I allow them to come along to learn windsurfing, but they are not showing much interest yet. So until then, I enjoy the time I have at the beach and on the water to myself and my surf friends.

I see you are windsurfing “all the time” - how does that work with the rest of your land life?

What you see of me on social media is often about my windsurfing sessions, but unfortunately, I can’t go often. At least, for my taste, not often enough. On the weekends, when the wind blows, it’s possible and now and then I have an afternoon or evening session.

I hope to reduce my working hours soon so that I can be a little more flexible. Because the wind cannot be planned ;-).

Do you have a coach?

I don’t have a coach, but I do have a few surf friends who advise me and help me further. With one of them I often discuss my windsurf sessions and any issues. They also help me with the purchase of equipment and the rigging. Soon, I hope to be able to sail with someone a little more often to increase my speed.

Do you also train on land,.. specifically for windsurfing - running, gymnastics, etc.?

I only do some floor exercises to train my muscles in the legs and arms and abs. Due to a long-term injury to my knee, I can no longer run, which was great to keep my condition up for windsurfing.

Any other “wild” Hobbies and Interests?

Wild interests? Hahaha. No, not specifically. Well … before the lockdown due to Covid ’19 I did Top rope climbing in a climbing hall. If that is possible again, I will gladly pick it up again. During the summer holidays, I like to go via Ferrata in the mountains. For those who don’t know, via Ferrata means “a protected climbing route”.

What are your windsurfing plans for the future?

As an amateur surfer, these are not big plans. But I still hope to make a surfing holiday at a “paradise-like” spot with blue warm water and white beaches with surf friends. I also think it would be great fun to participate in Defi Wind in Gruissan in the south of France. But to keep it closer; my goal for this year is to get my speed up significantly. Last year I upgraded my sails and boards to racing gear so nothing should stand in the way of getting the speeds higher…except myself. So I work on my technique and go for that 32+ knots average!

Do you have other activities related to windsurfing?

Last year I started a Facebook group for windsurfing ladies who surf (with some consistency) on my homespot ‘Strand Horst’. At the time it started with 12 women and now this group has grown to 109 women. How nice is it to chat with each other about our passion for windsurfing, help each other and meet at the beach. This year we also started organizing various activities. It is nice to be involved in some way with windsurfing during windless days.
Here’s the link to the group if you wanna join:

Do you also teach windsurfing?

No, I don’t.

But I do work with children with learning disabilities and I have discovered that windsurfing can take you “further in your personal growth”. It helps you to exercise physically, but relax mentally and forget everything. It appeals to your persistence and courage. And it feels so good when you step off the water with a sense of satisfaction that you’ve outdone yourself. I would like to help children, who are sometimes so damaged by their learning difficulties, to grow personally and to be able to give them the “windsurfing experience”. So who knows what will come out of that… work and hobby combined.

Any last thoughts, words?

I wish you wonderful sessions in which you constantly challenge yourself to the next step, but in the meantime enjoy the moment itself to the maximum. There is always something to be happy about. If it is not your surfing result, then it is nature or it is your surf friends around you. I hope to see you on the water!

By Matjaž Hrovat

Hi, I’m Matjaž. I love windsurfing. I also love to design and make fun things. I wanted to do more windsurfing but I ran out of time for whole day trips to the sea. Every time it’s windy I get butterflies in my belly. I just had to figure out something. If I only have an hour an a half… how can I do some windsurfing? So the Urban Breez was born...

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