Leander Vyvey, the most professional and successful Belgian kiteboarder in the world. Ever since 2007 Leander has achieved great success in his sport and is ranked amongst the world's top kitesurfers. Many envy his dream life: endless travelling to the most beautiful and exotic places, and recognition all across the globe. Here is an inside interview with this extreme watersports athlete.
Some basic info:
Junior Champion of Belgium 2005
Champion of Belgium 2007-2009
Double vice World Champion of the KPWT 2008-2009
Gold on the lap of the World Championships by KPWT, Italy 2008
Numerous prize winner at World Championships by the KPWT and PKRA 2006 through 2009
Kiting since: 2002
Sponsors: O'Neill, JN-Kites, Canon, Woodyfish boards, Dakine, Skull Candy and Swatch
Hello, Leander! What have you been up to recently?
Hi! I was busy last month finishing my final exams at the university this year and over the past months I've been mainly involved in promotion and ambassador work for brands like O'Neill and C-Power. I've also been working with some media projects, and without the competition pressure this year, I've had the chance to train some of the moves I really enjoy most.
Why did you decide to quit competitions for 2010?
I've lived intense and very busy competition seasons over the past few years and wanted to use this year for some different promo activities. In the meanwhile it was a good idea to take some time and let my body rest.
Last winter I spent my training in Hawaii and injured my shoulder doing a back mobe. A wave resulted in me spinning faster than expected which led to my shoulder getting pulled out. Even if I had wanted to compete full on, a break of a few months would have been necessary.
Kitesurfing takes a great deal of strength and concentration, not to mention the balance and flexibility. Can you give us an idea of the type of training you do in order to be fit enough for professional kiting?
Kite surfing is a very physically demanding sport. I usually base my exercises on combining cardio and strength training. Most of my exercises train the core muscles in order to improve my balance. I sometimes use a stability ball and do interval training to improve my cardiovascular strength. This is important for when I need to run several heats in a short time period.
Usually I workout six days a week and change my workouts in order to keep my body and mind challenged. After each session, I spend close to a half hour stretching every muscle in order to maintain the required flexibility to stay loose and avoid injuries while kiting.
For my cardiovascular exercise, I cross train by running, playing squash or swimming for one to two hours, 5 days a week. This keeps me from getting bored with my workouts. It also stimulates my muscles in different ways to help prevent injuries. When the wind conditions allow me to, I kite seven days a week, which also helps to keep me in shape.
Do you use food supplements to keep your body at the optimal level?
I basically try to eat healthy, organic meals and I drink a lot of water. My diet consists of high protein and low carbs, which can be challenging when traveling so much.
You travel a lot and visit the most beautiful kite destinations around the globe, a life that many would want to change to. Does it have negative points?
Traveling has been a big passion and a great source of inspiration for me ever since I was little. I get energy from visiting these different places and meeting such a variety of cultures, although there sometimes is a darker side to being away from home, sometimes up to 10 months a year. For example some small negative points like delayed flights, stolen equipment, surf bags lost with connection flights, no or no good internet, lost hours waiting in airports and airplanes, dragging those kitebags all the time, etc... and this put together is often a very tiring pressure on your mind. Even though you meet a lot, too many, but often very interesting people all the time, you are not really 'at home'. And then, most of all I miss hanging out with my real friends and family.
How do you see your nearest future?
As soon as my shoulder recovers, I want to continue training freestyle and prove myself capable of reaching the top of competition again. It has always been exciting for me to compare myself and compete against others. Wave riding is also a big passion to me and will definitely be a focus for the coming months, as this is less intense on my shoulder. Apart from that, I have had some great opportunities to take part in interesting kite projects, and I will also be working on the third version of my "Leander Pro" signature board.
What's the role of music and film in your life?
As much as the flight companies allow me to, I take my guitar wherever I go. I love the guitar and the evenings of jamming at a BBQ with some drinks and friends at night. Music has an important place in my life and sometimes my mood can completely depend on the songs I was listening to before. Some of my favourite groups are Muse, Eminem, Jack Johnson, Amy Winehouse, Yann Tiersen and some of the movies I recently enjoyed a lot are Rock & Rolla and Snatch.
Thank you Leander for the interview!
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