North Sea Windsurfing in Bredene, Oostende

EP3: What windsurfing is really about (Q&A)

A laid back Q&A with our newest members of the family: Team riders Emiel and Ward De Malsche :)

Questions & Answers

Q: How old are you ? 

A: 19 and my brother is 16 .

Q: How old were you when you first started windsurfing ? 

A: my first surfing experience was actually when my father took my bother and me paddle boarding in the Wadden islands. While I was only 3, the sound of seals squeaking on the beach and the feeling of eating our picnic on the paddleboard have stuck with me. 

Q: What is your favourite surf spot in Belgium and the world ? 

A: My go to surf spot in Belgium would have to be the Surfclub Windekind at the groenendijk in Oostduinkerke. There are little to no water breaks and the waves are huge. 

The best surf spot in the world though ? I would have to say Podzo on the island of the Gran-Canarias. It’s a small spot but a constant wind of about 50 knots, just to put that in perspective: the wind blows so hard it’s impossible to insure your windsurf gear. 

Q: Have you managed to win any prizes yet ?

A: Last year I became the Belgian youth champion in windsurfing, it was a really weird feeling during the final, as I had to compete against my brother. He deserved that prize as much as I did to be honest. 

Q: If you could give any tip to someone starting windsurfing today, what would it be ? 

A: Just have fun, doesn’t matter what level you are at. At the end of the day the best windsurfer is not the one with the most medals,  the sickest tricks or the coolest gear. It’s the one who has the most fun in the water. 

Q: Are you practicing any new tricks?

A: My backloop. That is a backwards somersault with your windsurf board. Extremely difficult but totally worth it!

Q: Since your father and brother are both windsurfers, how has the sport impacted your relationship with them ? 

A: Sharing the same passing is something that always brings people together, and it isn’t any different with us. Windsurfing provides a much needed contrast to the normalised structure of our daily lives, much of the time a lot is planned yet with surfing anything can happen really and you have to be able to adapt to the conditions quickly.

Q: Are there any lessons you have taken from surfing or the ocean in general ? 

A: The oceans power demands us to be humble and respect nature.  Having experienced sketchy moments at sea, such as heading into the rocks, material failing in the middle of the ocean have really demanded me to be humble and respectful, if not the ocean will be unforgiving. While on the waterfront one can have a big mouth but once in the water everything changes.

Q: Why do you think people should take better care of the ocean? 

A: The ocean provides us with so many great thing : food, relaxations and a means of travel. The utilities of the oceans are not highlighted as much as they in my opinion that way we lose touch with the reality of what is actually going on. The accumulation of plastic and trash that ends up in the ocean is really becoming a significant problem for both animals, the environment and people alike. 

We ought to take better care of the ocean in our own way. You can be very passionate and participate in beach clean-ups or you can just spread the right culture and mindset about the problem by buying an awesome t-shirt from wave thirteen. It won’t solve the problem with it’s a step in the right direction to put the conversation of the degrading oceans and its effects back on the table.  Everyone has a role to play in this, just figure out what yours is. 


EP2: Empowered women empower women

Ask any surfer and they will all tell you the same thing: surfing is not a sport, it’s a lifestyle. Even though I grew up in the middle of Belgium, far away from the ocean, it’s the lifestyle that always attracted me.

A free ride from nature

I was 14 years old when I had my first surfing experience in Spain. I still remember the first time my feet touched the board and I rode my first wave. Being pushed by the ocean towards the beach felt like flying –  a free ride from nature. I had never felt anything like that before and ever since that moment, I was hooked. Chasing waves became the most important thing in my life.

One-way ticket to India

Growing up, I was always interested in nature and science, which is why I later studied biochemical engineering. However, when I graduated, the idea of getting a job in that field didn’t appeal to me. I couldn’t stop dreaming about exploring the world and living in places where I could walk barefoot and surf every day. So instead of finding a job, I packed my backpack and booked a one-way ticket to India. Together with Jonas, my partner at the time, I left Belgium to travel the world, surf as much as possible and figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

exploring the world and living in places where I could walk barefoot and surf every day

 

Something that changed my life forever

In India, we spent a month with Samugam, a grassroots organisation where Jonas had worked as a volunteer a couple of years before. For more than 15 years, Samugam has provided a home and education to orphans and street children in Pondicherry. In addition, they run various projects to help people living in extreme poverty to become more economically independent. Amongst these projects, there was one, in particular, that would change my life forever: The Sewing the Seeds Project.

Feeling guilty won’t help anybody

The Sewing The Seeds Project empowers disadvantaged women by teaching them applicable skills. In their tailoring centre, single mothers, widows, and ex-sex workers receive free sewing and vocational training that they can then use to find work. Visiting the centre and getting to know the women was incredibly eye-opening for me, to say the least.

In India, I learned that gender discrimination continues to be an enormous problem within Indian society. Therefore, the empowerment of marginalized women through education and the creation of vocational opportunities are essential to the sustained growth of India – or any society for that matter. Traditional patriarchal norms have degraded women to a secondary status within the household and workplace. This drastically affects women’s health, financial status, education, and political involvement. I was shocked to learn all of this and it made me realise how privileged I had been my whole life.

 

All this time, I had been concerned about having the freedom to design my life so I could surf every day. But these women had no freedom of choice when it came to their lives. Realising this made me feel guilty for taking for granted all the opportunities I was given throughout my life.

Nevertheless, I quickly realised that feeling guilty wouldn’t help anybody, and instead, I would try to help these women. The project was already very successful by providing a safe space where the women build confidence and could expand their horizons. But it didn’t always result in them actually finding a job and generating an income to support their family. That’s how we came up with an idea to create jobs in the tailoring centre. And this idea became a social enterprise: Fair and Square

 

What I learned through the years

Fast forward four years. Today, we provide a dignified workspace for about fifteen women by creating reusable, organic cotton bags for zero-waste shops in Europe. The women receive a fair wage for their work and at the same time we are making a sustainable alternative for one of the main polluters of our oceans: single-use plastic bags. Every year, I spend a couple of months in India to help develop the project alongside Samugam. The rest of the year, I manage it remotely from a place where I can walk barefoot and surf every day.

Surfing has taught me to respect and care for nature. Chasing this lifestyle made me realise how privileged I am and that I want to help women who weren’t provided with the same opportunities as me.

Together with these women, I now work to protect what is most near and dear to me: the ocean.

It goes without saying that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done when it comes to women empowerment, pollution and climate change, but I believe together we can make a difference. And I hope you believe this too and that you decide to make an effort to care for and support our planet. Because it’s the only one with waves.

Follow @lienuten and @fairandsquarebe on instagram!

 


Portrait Vincent Maes

EP1: Crafting values

Introduction


When looking to buy a new surfboard one can get easily overwhelmed by the sheer variety of shapes and sizes. Whether you just want to shred some lips, nose ride a longboard or just have fun on a fish, there is surely a board out there to suit your needs. Yet there are always those who crave something more, something better and something more personal.

Vincent Maes


When he is not designing the next sustainable home of the future, one can find him on the beaches of Guincho or Biscarrosse, riding waves of all shapes and sizes until sundown. Like many, Vincent too was overwhelmed by the variety of board choices but there wasn’t one board that could satisfy his vision of surfing. So, he embarked on a project to shape his very own board, without any prior knowledge of how do go about it.

The creative process


Just like Wave-13, Vincent values sustainability and quality above all. “Most boards today are made with Polyurethane and Polystyrene, both materials aren’t very kind to nature, as they are not degradable or sustainable materials. Throughout the process, it was comforting to know that I was completely in control of the materials I used. By sourcing the wood from a local carpenter, I not only supported the local economy but this way I could enjoy all that which nature has to give without disturbing its equilibrium.”

Development


During the creative process, he had to learn new skills, improvise and adapt to the problems at hand, working with what was available to him. “ I think in our modern society we have become too dependent, we over-consume and discard what we don’t need anymore. We crave the instant gratification and neglect its effects on our society and nature. I believe creating something with one’s own hands is much more rewarding and fulfilling.”

Upon reflection


"While the board still requires some detailing, it gives me great satisfaction and pride knowing I have made it myself. Going through the process, really puts into perspective what we can accomplish as humans when put to the test. I believe we need to challenge ourselves more, we ought to go off the beaten path once in a while and create. That’s the only way I believe we can live a truly fulfilling life”.

Wave - 13


It is pleasing to be part of a culture that shares my values. Wave-13 for me is much more than just a clothing brand, it is an idea, a community and a vision for the future. With the motivated team of creators and developers at Wave-13, the path to sustainability seems ever more in our reach. The grander of its aspiration and ambition is truly inspiring.

Co-author: Vincent Maes
Photocredits: @visio_imaging