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TheKiteMag Feature Mission Unknown Roderick Pijls 5 1200x800 - The Mission: Mission Unknown

The Mission: Mission Unknown

Roderick Pijls agreed to accept a mission not knowing anything about it other than where and when he had to be with his kite gear. Without giving too much away, there was an open ocean kite crossing involved, a trek up an active – and smelly – volcano, and some philosophical pondering… It was mission successful, and getting back home brought Roderick more joy too.

PHOTOS: Rein Rijke (Cape Verde) & Jaco Kleijwegt (the Netherlands)

A while ago Rein and I were approached for ‘Mission Unknown’ organized by Samsung, Rein as a photographer and myself as an athlete. Neither of us had any idea what we were going to be doing as they kept it a big secret until the day itself. The only thing I knew was that I had to get a plane to the island of Praia, the capital of Cape Verde on the island of Santiago, bring along my kite gear and meet them at the beach. As I arrived at the spot, full of anticipation of getting a warm welcome by everyone, I received a message on my watch with the words: “Your Mission Unknown is to be on the top of the Pico do Fogo within six hours.” Pico do Fogo is Cape Verde’s highest peak, on the nearby island of Fogo, and is an active volcano…

From there the craziness – but mainly joy and enthusiasm – started, and the adrenaline began to flow freely through the blood. We decided to do the crossing kite foiling, using my Appletree Mini Foil board and Levitaz foil, to make sure I was super comfortable while crossing the chop, but still able to enjoy the powerful swell between the islands. At one point I looked back and my departure island was as far behind me as the new land that was looming in front of me. To be honest, this is what I loved the most – being there all by myself, in that moment and knowing that I could not make a single mistake, as there are not many safety boats… Well, none to be precise…

TheKiteMag Feature Mission Unknown Roderick Pijls 10 - The Mission: Mission Unknown

While doing the crossing I saw many flying fish darting out of the water just in front of me, trying to fly uncontrollably next to me for as long as possible. I started thinking of these fish as a metaphor of our life – them darting out of the water and trying to look as if they were super in control, when even the tiniest gust could change the direction of that particular flying fish, reminded me of us living our life and trying to make it look as if we’re fully in control, when eventually a little ‘gust’ can have a life-changing impact. Probably this sounds really spiritual, but maybe that’s what long island-crossings will do to people, haha!

On the beach just in front of the cliffs at my destination, I saw a boat with someone splashing in the water with a big lens. I did a couple of laps in front of Rein’s camera, had a chill in the water and told him all about my flying fish metaphor, and after that I continued the trip towards the beach to make sure I still had enough time to reach the top of the volcano within the six-hour window.

We decided to take a quick ride with some available quads towards the volcano ridge and from that point a three-hour hike started. A magnificent scene started rising up in front of us and I could imagine how it must have looked when there was a massive volcano eruption happening. The insane force that nature displayed to create these mountains must have been incredible. The typical sulfur smell started penetrating our nostrils and we decided to pick up the pace to spend as little time as possible inhaling this rotten-egg smell! After an exciting and tiring mission of six hours we managed to get to the top of the volcano and ‘Mission Unknown’ was successful.

Now I’m back home in the Netherlands with lasting memories of an incredible trip. The kiting conditions in Cape Verde were absolutely mind-blowing – crystal-clear waters, perfect wind, and the most picturesque beaches you could imagine. But you know what? Coming back home hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm one bit. I’ve been fortunate enough to have fantastic summer temperatures and ideal conditions right here at home. So I’ve been making the most of it and hitting the water with my STOKE kite. I recently got my hands on the new Appletree Skipper board, and let me tell you, it’s a game-changer. The moment I hopped on it, I could feel the difference. The board’s smooth control and maneuverability allow me to effortlessly glide across the water.

And let’s not forget about the new Falcon board from Lieuwe! I’ve been having a blast pushing my limits and attempting all sorts of tricks and jumps. The freestyle board’s design is tailor-made for Big Air, but it definitely doesn’t stop my progress in freestyle, allowing me to experiment and hone my skills. With the summer season in full swing, I’m determined to keep riding these sweet conditions and make the most of what the Netherlands has to offer.

So here’s to an epic summer of kiting missions, both at home and abroad. Let’s keep the stoke alive and embrace every moment of this incredible sport!

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