How To Progress As A Kitesurfer: Top Tips From Our Duotone Team Rider
Introducing Ieke van Winkelhoff, passionate kitesurfer, Duotone Kiteboarding Team Rider, Queen of the Pond! If you’ve ever been down at The Pond on a windy afternoon, you’ve probably seen Ieke tearing it up. Specialising in freeride kitesurfing and old school tricks, Ieke is always working on her kitesurfing skills and looking at new ways to progress.
Originally from the Netherlands, Ieke and her husband / kitesurfing partner in crime, Marnix, moved to Australia in 2012. They fell in love with Australia but after a lifetime of outdoor sports like snowboarding and motorbike riding in Europe, the only thing they felt was lacking with their new life in Australia was the adrenaline rush from extreme sports. This is where their inspiration to give kitesurfing a crack came in. After a quick trip over to Bali where they gave kitesurfing a go for the first time they instantly fell in love with the sport and have been passionate kitesurfers ever since.
Love of Kitesurfing
For Ieke, there is so much to love about kitesurfing. Top of the list is the opportunity to progress. Having always been into extreme sports, she is a confident rider but would be a little hesitant to do tricks as the risk of injury in other sports can be quite high. With kitesurfing, there is always something you can improve on whether you want to do tricks or not. If you’re freeriding, you can aim to add in a grab, a kite loop, make your landing better or a get a metre higher in a jump – there is always something you can progress with by being competitive with yourself, you don’t need to be competitive with others to get better.
Ieke also loves the kitesurfing community. When you’re out on the water and the wind is in your ears, you’re in the zone and kitesurfing is all you think about but off the water it’s a different story. Kitesurfers are always keen to have a chat off water about their session, the gear their using or just anything in general really. They also always look out for each other. If anyone gets in trouble out on the water, whether that’s losing a board, getting stuck or in a collision, the guys and girls out on the water will always do what they can to help out.
Best Spots to Kitesurf
According to Ieke, WA is THE location to kitesurf. The summers are perfect to kitesurf as it gets so windy in the afternoon, especially down at The Pond in Safety Bay. Some people might complain about all the wind but Ieke’s response? “Well make the most of it – go kitesurfing!”
Top of Ieke’s list of kitesurfing spots is The Pond, hands down. Flat water and consistent winds most days in summer make it the ideal place to kitesurf. She also loves Augusta for kitesurfing and will make sure she heads down there at least once or twice a year to kite.
Cocos Island is also an amazing place to kitesurf and is somewhere Ieke thinks all kitesurfers should experience. This little paradise is a dream for kitesurfing, flat waters with the occasional turtle or reef shark gliding under the water beneath you. You will have to deal with some currents which makes loads and pops a little harder but so worth it for the amazing experience.
Queen of the Pond
Ieke’s dedication to progress has led to her to gaining some pretty impressive results in a number of kitesurfing competitions over the years.
Her first race in 2019, the Red Bull Lighthouse to Leighton Race, was a big one. Despite losing her twintip board three times and dealing with some pretty major feet cramps, Ieke managed to kitesurf from Rottnest to Fremantle in 38 minutes, earning her 6th place in the women’s division.
In 2020, Ieke came 2nd in the State Nationals Freestyle competition and was also awarded the “Master of Style” – one of her proudest achievements as she prides herself on working hard to perfect the style of a trick, rather than the complexity of it.
Ieke keeps going from strength to strength, most recently winning 1st place in the women’s category of the 2022 BAKL Big Air Competition and being crowned Queen of the Pond.
When entering a competition, Ieke doesn’t have the expectation that she will win – even though with those results she’s obviously got some skill! Ieke enters competitions for the experience, they give her a goal to keep focusing and working on. She also wants to inspire other women in kitesurfing. Women in kitesurfing are still not very well represented and can sometimes be a little more hesitant to enter a competition. Even if you don’t think you’re going to win, give it a go – you’ll always improve and that’s a win in itself.
Duotone Kiteboarding Team Rider
We’re so stoked for Ieke to be a Duotone Team Rider for the upcoming 2022/23 kitesurfing season. Having been loyal to Duotone from the very beginning, Ieke knows a thing or two about the Duotone range of kitesurfing gear.
At the start of her kitesurfing days, the Duotone Rebel kite was always Ieke’s go to kite. The Rebel is a powerful freeride kite, built for big air and high performance. It was the perfect kite for her at the time and gave her everything she needed to learn the sport. Once Ieke started getting into more kitesurfing tricks she changed over to the Duotone Dice and hasn’t looked back since. The Dice is awesome for freeride and freestyle kitesurfing, it has powerful lift, huge jumping abilities and hangtime which make it perfect for kite loops and unhooked pop. It is also great for foiling and wave riding. While Ieke is an avid Duotone Dice kiter, the Dice is a more technical kite and she would recommend that you give this one a go if you are a more advanced rider as it can be a little trickier to fly and can be harder to launch out of the water. If you’re just starting out in the sport, give the Duotone Evo or Duotone Rebel a go, these kites are more forgiving and a great option to those just starting out.
When it comes to boards, Ieke’s weapon of choice is the Jaime SLS Twin Tip board. This carbon board is light, easy to load and pop for tricks and is the perfect freestyle and free ride board. It is a stiff board though so isn’t too keen on the chop. You’ll need to learn how to make this board work for you and ride with the chop to prevent bouncing around too much.
Becoming a Kitesurf Instructor
Did we mention that Ieke is also one of our awesome kitesurfing instructors? Never having thought she’d one day become an instructor, when the opportunity came up to do the Kitesurfing Instructor course Ieke figured ‘why not?’ and is now really loving the instructor side of kitesurfing too. Becoming an instructor has only made Ieke love the sport even more. Having a better understanding of the sport has made her a better kitesurfer herself and she loves to pass on her knowledge to other kitesurfers who are looking to learn or progress. Ieke will be running a number of kitesurfing clinics with WA SURF over the 2022/23 season.
How to Progress as a Kitesurfer
Whether you’re just starting out or have been kitesurfing for a while, here are some of Ieke’s top tips to progress in your kitesurfing:
“If you want to get into the sport, commit to it. Book in your lessons, try to get in three lessons within a week or two so that you can really get stuck into the learning motion. It is also a good idea to get your kitesurfing gear sooner rather than later so you can start practicing the exercises you learn in your lessons.”
“If you’re already kiting and you want to progress, focus on your own progression and don’t worry about what other people are doing. Also, don’t be scared to crash (be safe, of course!) If you don’t crash, you don’t progress. You will learn from your mistakes and do it better next time.”
“Get your hair wet! If you come off the water with dry hair, you haven’t progressed because you have just been cruising and staying in your comfort zone. You have to come off the water knackered, soaked, cold and wet and then you have made some progression. Even if your body hurts after your session you know to try something different next time, try a slightly different technique or maybe a different wind strength.”
“Choose the right kite and the right wind conditions for your progression. If it is 28 knots and gusty winds, don’t try a new trick. If its light winds, don’t try and beat your highest jump record because it won’t be successful. Adjust to wind conditions. Light winds are very good for learning new skills, stronger winds are very good to consolidate what you already can do then try to jump a little bit higher or add in that grab when you have the height you actually need to let go of your bar.”
Some awesome tips from Ieke there! If you’re keen to check out some of the clinics she is running over the 2022/23 season, check out our clinics page.
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