In our last feature with Dennis Klaaijsenn we reported on his epic 24 hour windsurfing feat. There he told us about his future plans and one such goal was to cross the North Sea. Well, the time came much quicker than we had anticipated and Dennis has already undertaken the challenge with a huge amount of success. However, as you would expect, windsurfing 192km on one tack is no easy feat. So here’s the story on how this mighty challenge panned out.
North Sea Crossing: The Challenge
After a number of 24 hour windsurf sessions over the last three years I was looking for a new challenge.
In August 2013 I was approached by an old classmate, who now works at Wind Star Cruises. He asked if I was interested in joining a Caribbean cruise with one of their ships, the Windsurf, sailing on my surfboard. The cruise schedule would start in St. Maarten and go via Antigua, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, Saint Barths and return to St. Maarten. The total distance is around 750 kilometres and would be spread out over 7 days. Ribs would accompany me during the day and I would overnight on the Windsurf. The sailing schedule, combined with the north east trade winds, give a perfect sailing angle.
It seemed like a super cool challenge. My wife Louise and myself sailed many years on cruise ships from the Holland America Line, Louise as purser and myself as navigator so we know how much fun it is on cruise ships.
I measured the distance and realized that this really would be a killer week and that I had to go make the necessary training kilometres at sea. As a 7 year old boy I started surfing on the sea at Nieuwvliet Bad (The Netherlands) but for the last 15 years I had surfed mainly on inland waterways.
I gladly accepted the challenge and set up a tight training schedule. As soon as the wind was blowing from a northern direction I went to Domburg or Vrouwepolder in order to be able to make long reaches along the Walcheren coast. With South west winds you can surf from Vlissingen to Westkapelle. It soon felt like the olden days, surfing between the waves of the North Sea.
For organizational reasons, the cruise ship challenge fell through. I had the necessary training hours in the arms and legs and really wanted to put it to good use.
Through a work colleague I got interested in the North Sea crossing, from Lowestoft to Ijmuiden. A distance of 192 kilometres which many yachtsman and surfers have attempted in the past, the aim being to cross the North sea.