I traveled the world for several years. I always spent all of my savings seeing new places and then I’d take any job to save up money, in order to spend it again on travel. I’d get stuck somewhere else later and have to save up again. In a way, this became a bit like going in circles as time went by. The first time I ever saw a kiter was on TV after having arrived in Tel Aviv in 2002, only to see more kiters in real life the very next day in the Mediterranean. Having sailed and windsurfed for most of my life I was intrigued by a symmetrical sail. Soon thereafter I saw more kiters in the Red Sea, where I also had the most amazing snorkelling experience of my life. There I first toyed with the idea of becoming a Kitesurf Instructor or Divemaster in order to be able to combine work with travel. Back then kitesurfing was still quite dangerous, and I had a long list of places to see first. So I decided in 2003 to first become a divemaster. I worked in Dahab and on safaris in other places in Egypt and watched tourist divers damage the most beautiful spots. Then later working in Los Roques I witnessed the same. By the end of 2005 I was saddened by the environmental impact humans have on the reefs and I quit my job. I traveled all over Venezuela to find a place to learn how to kite and at the beginning of 2006 I finally did so at the only IKO school in the country, with Murray Sampson, owner of Margarita Xtreme. Kiting is truly addictive, no other activity known to me gives a feeling of such ultimate freedom, a serious dose of adrenalin and fun all at once. I have not stopped since, nor do I plan to stop at any time in the future.
Tell us about your favorite kite spot or kite experience.
I don’t have a favorite spot, but I do enjoy the warm waters of the Caribbean, of Venezuela in particular. If I had to choose only one place, I would opt for the sea in front of my school, in El Yaque in Venezuela, for the simple reason that it is the closest to where I live and with 300 days of wind a year we can kite on all of these days on a twin tip, and if we push we get up to 350 days a year on a hydrofoil. Our homespot is like a giant bathtub, ample space for everybody, different conditions from choppy to flat in our lagoons, we can do island crossings and other safaris, and in case something really goes wrong, everybody gets washed up eventually. Venezuela has many places that are worth visiting, especially for kiting. We have world-class flatwater spots in Coche and Cubagua, the most incredible safari-possibilities in the pristine waters of the archipelago of Los Roques, where you can see all kinds of creatures from mantas to whale sharks. And also in Adicora there is good wind and an even better vibe. After all, when we’re out at sea it’s the people that we are with that count, and Venezuelans are great!
Why did you decide to pursue kitesurfing professionally?
I took up kiting professionally in order to be able to combine traveling with work. My teacher Murray Sampson was very supportive, when I told him after my first kite lesson that I plan to become an instructor. He explained all the steps and time necessary for this to happen, even though he must have thought to himself “yeah, well, whatever…” He even suggested that I work for him once I’m certified, which was a moral booster, and an offer I later gladly took. When I finally got certified as an IKO Instructor in 2007, I realized from the feedback of my students that this kind of work was spiritually much more rewarding than I previously imagined. The beauty of teaching is that each student and all classes are different. This keeps the activity diverse and alive. There is also an inherent personal challenge to make each class better than the one before, something that not all lines of work have to offer, and with this attitude teaching cannot become boring. So what I initially took up as an activity to bridge time, over the following months and years became a much deeper purpose, and with my classes getting better, the challenge kept growing. In a way, teaching the sport can be seen as a big motivation machine.
Why did you become an IKO Examiner?
At the beginning of 2017 the IKO changed the structure on how to teach for the better. I qualified as an Assistant Trainer under the new system, and giving these courses is very rewarding. As we read and analyze students before, during and even after they decide to book a course with us, we do the same with Assistant and Instructor Candidates. The sooner we can identify the strengths and weaknesses of our candidates, the more quickly we can shape them, not only to become better, but indeed great, and this is both a very challenging and satisfying task. Being able to combine travel with work became a minor goal in comparison to being able to read people better, because at the end a good character analysis is the prerequisite of effective communication, and being an effective communicator is one of the highest goals a human being can achieve. At the end of an Assistant or Instructor Training Course there is a feedback session where the Assistant Trainer or Examiner passes or fails a candidate, gives the candidate a breakdown of their positive attributes and those they need to improve, and then the candidate does the same for the Trainer. It is at these moments where words are often exchanged that neither party is likely to forget. Such memorable moments are a spiritual enrichment.
How has this career affected your life?
It’s still too early in my Examiner career to answer the question deeply. The three Examiner Training Courses have given me very useful tools that I apply in daily life with activities and businesses other than teaching. Firstly, it is good to make use of the principle of guided discovery on people in everyday life, such as employees, friends, partners, etc. By asking open questions and applying the feedback loop, rather than merely stating what I would like to get done. The positive result is that delegating tasks has become more natural. Instead of wanting to do everything myself, I now get better results by incentivizing others to do things. Another big difference is that now I find it easier to anticipate events and reactions to these events. So in a way, I have become better at predicting the future.
What advice would you give to your colleagues?
Advice is always easier to give than to take, so start off by giving good advice! Try your best or let it be, keeping in mind that there is always room for improvement. This way you will feel good about the things you do, which will make you want to do more good things in the future.