Staying at the forefront of extreme Big Air is not easy and you were one of the first doing the big moves last winter in South Africa. How was the feeling last year when everyone started tossing double loops and S-loops?
I think we all were amazed by the videos of Giel Vlugt when he first did the S-loop and double loops. I’d been asked so many times if it was possible, and I guess we didn’t know until he proved it was. From then on it was just waiting on the right conditions for me. I borrowed a 7m Dice SLS from someone and visualized the perfect timing. Landing the first few tries was insane and one of the biggest rushes I’ve had in the last few years. Maybe I was a bit lucky – after I did it, there were a few hard crashes by other riders. It really shows the insane risks involved, especially with the doubles.
What are your favorite conditions on the water?
Over the years my favorite conditions have always been the extreme ones. Riding my 8m Dice on 22m lines in the toughest conditions… up to 50 knots with kickers… this really puts the biggest smile on my face and gives me that urge to go bigger and bigger…
What has been the best moment of your kitesurfing career?
For me the best part of my career is that I’m living the whole thing! Like so many kids these days, I watched every single kite video so many times. I even know every single episode of Kevin Langeree’s Cape Sessions. I actually regularly remind and correct him what actually happened and with which song haha! But if I’d say one single moment it would be KOTA 2016. Although I ended up in the hospital that day, I was there to show my riding and who I was, and back then I did exactly that and everybody showed so much love. I remember being very exhausted and literally fighting to breathe, but being very proud of myself.
In your recent video Skywalker, you spoke about trying to control everything to get mentally calm, but how do you deal with situations you can’t control like the wind for example?!
Yeah this is still a hard question and I can’t give the perfect answer. For me personally I’ve learnt to let go and not rely on circumstances that I cannot control. I focus on being myself, on my own skill and abilities, and on the positives. For example I have a great eye for detail, so focusing and trusting this ability will help me find the right options and decisions.
Cohan van Dijk
What was your journey towards being sponsored by Red Bull?
It wasn’t much of a journey actually, more a surprise! I was in touch with Red Bull about some competition and content projects, and I asked if there would be any chance of working together in the future. They told me they couldn’t say and just didn’t know what the plans were… A few weeks later I went to an event where the athlete manager put the famous Red Bull cap on my head and congratulated me on becoming part of the family! One of my proudest moments that I will never forget.
Why do you predominantly use the Dice?
For years I’ve been riding the Dice, and with the recent developments, the Dice SLS. I’ve been closely involved in the R&D of the kite, and together with Duotone kite designers Ralf Grösel and Marian Hund, we made this the high-performance, Big Air, extreme megalooping machine! The handling, speed, explosiveness and stability of the kite is like no other. I also use the Rebel SLS and Evo SLS sometimes which have a bit more lift and hangtime, but the overall handling on the Dice SLS has to be my preference, especially in extreme windy conditions.
Philipp Becker (Duotone Marketing Manager)
How hard, or maybe even easy, was it for you to speak openly about your feelings, fears and hopes for your latest movie project?
It’s been a long project, and overall with my performance coach I’ve been working since 2018 already. I think it’s always good to talk about stuff, and I’m very open to people around me. I didn’t see my nerves and stress as a weakness, more as a ‘less good’ ability that I wanted to work on improving. Harder was to really work out where it was all coming from, and really dig deep into my – sometimes chaotic and busy – head!
Did shooting such a personal project help you progress and make you a stronger rider?
The whole process has definitely helped me a lot, and shooting it all for this documentary was more because of the story we wanted to tell. Since the video has been released and I’ve received so much good feedback, it definitely gave me a lot of confidence and fulfillment. We all have a story to tell, and after telling the story and hearing from everyone they love it and got inspired… Well, that’s just the biggest compliment on the project and the whole trajectory I’ve done.
There is a crop of new Big Air riders who have focused just on this since they began kiting – is their riding style different or how can you see this?
First of all this new crop of riders is insanely talented and do stuff that I can’t, so fully hands down for that! But I do think it’s a different style of riding, and I try to ride the more extreme side, and they ride the more technical side. I’m trying to combine the two but it’s extremely hard and tough to learn… With hard crashes constantly…
Let’s say you could jump to an unlimited height. At what point would you start sh*tting your pants?!
I think every time we break our own personal records, we sh*t our pants a little. Whether it’s jumping your first 5m jump, or getting that crazy 50 knot gust in Cape Town. But besides that, I think we should all be sh*tting our pants more than we do sometimes. We jump high and land hard, and sometimes crash. Working smart on my body in the gym and staying fit specifically for kiting is something I’ve been focused on lately… postponing that scary moment!