From our October issue we caught up with Dutch all rounder Arrianne Aukes for the following profile. Since this magazine was printed we hear that she has had her baby girl Aya, so congratulations go out to Arrianne and her family!
2019 proved how versatile Dutch sailor Arrianne Aukes is, with second place on the IWT wave tour and fourth place on the PWA freestyle tour. For 2020, Arrianne is looking forward to being a first-time mother; we caught up with her to learn more about her lifestyle.
Words Arrianne Aukes // Photos John Carter, Berky Algin.
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I spent this summer with my boyfriend who lives in Datca, a very windy and beautiful peninsula in Turkey close to many Greek islands. I had to cancel all my windsurf (and yoga) clinics in Bonaire and Turkey because of Covid-19, but I managed to organise a few windsurf clinics in Holland in May which I enjoyed so much!
During the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic I found out that I was pregnant, which was a surprise as doctors had told me I could not get pregnant without treatments. I think my pregnancy has helped put things in a different perspective though. Cancelling the clinics was very hard, as I depend on them financially and worked a lot this year to make them grow. But I was very sick, tired and nauseated in those first months of my pregnancy and would have struggled a lot if I had to run all my clinics at the same time. I stopped doing freestyle when I found out I was pregnant, but I still feel good and confident cruising around a little on my windsurfer.
Being a professional windsurfer is a very uncertain job and Covid-19 showed me how hard it is to be an entrepreneur. My brother and sister kept getting paid by their jobs, while I lost all my income and it made me question a lot of things. At the same time, I really believe that the past few years have taught me so much and that I will always be able to find a job if I need to. I see now that Covid-19 has made windsurfing grow so much in Holland, so like every bad thing it also brings new opportunities.
It was a great experience to do the full IWT Tour last year and although it was quite hectic to combine it with both freestyle and all the PWA wave events, it was a memorable year. Because of the IWT competitions I went to places I had always wanted to go to, but had never been to before, so I am very grateful that I had the chance to do that last year. Japan, Peru, Oregon and Maui were all amazing and unique places. It’s a very friendly vibe and not having a tour this year makes me realise even more how much I miss hanging out with all the girls on tour!
I don’t make any money competing as I don’t get paid and prize money only covers travel costs. I organise windsurf and yoga & windsurf clinics and retreats in Holland and other countries and that is mostly how I make a living.
HIGHS AND LOWS
One of my high points was definitely the IWT event in Japan last year. This was the first event of 2019 and I came straight from Australia where I had been training non-stop for six weeks. Just being in Japan was such an experience already and the organisers of the event were so incredibly kind to us all. On arrival in Japan I suffered a sudden severe shoulder injury, which was very bad timing. I had a cortisone injection, but the day after they started the competition in very strong, onshore conditions. Even with the cortisone injection I could barely move my arm, but somehow I still managed to go out and sail, and even won the event!
My low point was in Oregon, where I managed to win the single elimination. In the double elimination Sarah Hauser was leading with some really good wave rides, I was using a 3.4 sail as it was so windy, but I still managed to land a clean back loop which I was really happy with. I was pretty sure I won, due to having two jumps in the bag. The result came a few days later, without showing us the judging sheets or the possibility to check our results. Afterwards I saw they scored my clean back loop lower than a forward. I got apologies that the scoring was not right, but at that moment, coming all the way from Turkey to America I was sad. It’s hard to find the balance to simply accept these things or knowing when you have to step up for yourself when things don’t feel fair; it’s a judged sport and sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes not. I think it is important that you have professional judges at big events with prize money to avoid situations like that.
WAVE OR FREESTYLE
I love them both! Wave is more of a challenge for me now after giving freestyle all I had for so many years. I like how determined you have to be for freestyle, and how learning new moves can be like a little puzzle, where you slowly get closer and closer to landing it. Also, freestyle is more social. I loved all those uncountable hours on the water with friends, training freestyle, watching, pushing and helping each other. In waves it’s you and the wave. During the PWA in Maui we had huge waves during the competition, I would normally never push myself in such big waves. I was scared to go out, but competition helps me to put away my fear and go for it. I had a few nice waves and was SO full of adrenaline after! That feeling is just incredible.
For me yoga has helped me so much being a windsurf athlete. My grandad was already doing yoga 30 years ago, so I guess it is in my blood! When I started doing more yoga at the beginning it was mainly to stay a little flexible with all the windsurfing I was doing. But as I got increasingly into it, I realised yoga is so much more. Yoga is very beneficial as an athlete as it helps you to connect your mind and body. Yoga also made me realise I did not use my breath right. With competitions I was always out of breath after a 6-minute heat. Meditation and breath work helped me a lot to be calm and focussed during competitions, and to use my energy in the right moment.
Yoga is beneficial to all ages, it’s important to listen to your body. Yoga is not about how good you are at it and not about getting better, it’s something you do for yourself to create awareness about your mind and body.
Believe in yourself! I always doubted if I was good or young enough and I think it had a bad influence on my career. Just enjoy practising and start with doing as much competitions as you can so you can get used to competing, and to meet other girls in the scene so you get more motivated. At the moment Sarah-Quita Offringa is definitely still on top of her game and she is pretty tough to beat, but everything is possible!
I think doing many different sports helps to make you a better windsurfer. I love stand-up paddling and surfing in the waves, and I believe they are very good physical training to strengthen ankles, knees, legs and to get a better feeling for waves. In Holland I like to go for a bike ride and of course I do a lot of yoga too! Now I am pregnant I like to go for a swim in the ocean every day to keep my body fit and strong. I still teach yoga online and windsurf as well, but no crazy sessions, just easy-going cruising around a bit.
I definitely miss travelling, but at the same time it was nice spending some time at home in Holland and Turkey and to not constantly live from a suitcase. The first months of Covid-19 were difficult as my boyfriend and I could not see each other for a few months while I was pregnant. I could have never imagined living during those special months without each other. Covid-19 has disrupted my plans, but then with my pregnancy in a way it was the perfect timing. I won’t miss out on any competitions this year because of my pregnancy as they are all cancelled anyway and it makes it easier to accept what is happening in the world. There will be no travel or competing for me this year for sure, my belly is too big! But I am planning on competing again next year; hopefully it will be possible with the Covid-19 situation.
I want to keep growing and improving as an athlete and I hope to inspire more girls and women in windsurfing. I love the feeling of freedom windsurfing gives me. I love how it makes you feel strong, humble and hungry for more, all at the same time. I love how it clears your head and how it’s a full body workout. How you always want to improve, because no matter what your level, there is still so much to learn. And mostly because it connects me so much with nature and the elements.
Follow your Heart!