This week we are pleased to introduce you to Roderick Pijls. Born in Sommelsdijk, The Netherlands, Roderick is a Pro Kitesurfer who in his own words, “enjoys life to the fullest when crossing borders.”
You will see from his videos that sports and travelling are his passion and he is blessed to be living his passion as his career.
Check out Sportside’s EXCLUSIVE interview with Roderick and find out how he turned his passion for kitesurfing into a full-time career.
Roderick, welcome to the Sportside family. We are absolutely thrilled to have you on board and we’re all looking forward to seeing what an exciting partnership this could become!
First off, we all hope you are keeping safe during these times. Where in the world are you at the moment?
Hey, thanks for this warm welcome and I feel great to be part of this family! At the moment I am back home (safe and sound). Before Covid-19 became a Pandemic I was in South Africa and decided last-minute to travel back home to make sure I could still enter my home country. Happy I did it haha!
It goes without saying that you’re an awesome kite surfer, but can you tell our readers a little bit more about yourself?
hahah Thanks! I do my best. My name is Roderick Pijls, 27 years old and professional kitesurfer. Which actually means, that I get to kite all day everyday as a job. I don’t like to say that it is my job, as it is merely a passion that evolved into ‘job’, but I reckon if you do something that you love, it will never feel as a job, right?
I graduated in Business Administration at Erasmus University in 2013 and decided to give myself one year to see if I could become professional and now 7 years later I am still competing and traveling.
I like to challenge myself in all different ways, try to break boundaries and do things that would never thought to be possible. I kited on a toxic and 70 degree hot lake and soon I will kite inside a volcano hahah…
I see kite surfing hasn’t always been your main sport, you used to play hockey?
How long have you been kite surfing?
What was it that attracted you to kite surfing? It’s a little different to hockey…
Yes, I used to play field hockey and that was my life and passion during Primary and High School. I trained with the national team and we were training for international competitions.
During the weekends, when I had no hockey trainings or competitions I went often with my brothers and parents to the beach to play and enjoy the openness. One day I saw many people kitesurfing and flying though the air. I said; ‘Dad, I want this’. He promised me that if I would get good grades on school he would get me a lesson. Well, that happened hahahaha!
When I was 15 years old I got my first lesson with my brother and we were completely hooked from the beginning. I knew that this would be something I could be doing in the future.
The difference between other sports and kitesurfing is the freedom and adrenaline rush. If I am on the water and I want to go left for 10km, there’s no one telling me that it is not allowed. I can do whatever I like.
Sometimes I kite for 15km to the open ocean (all by myself) to feel the freedom again, the openness and that nature is always in control and that we need to respect that. That feeling is indescribable.
The adrenaline rush that flows through your body after an intense session with high wind speeds or 5m waves that are chasing you and trying to catch you is something unreal. I honestly suggest anyone to try it once.
It’s a sport that I’m sure many of our readers will have tried for fun but never competitively. At what point did you think to yourself that this was something you could make a career from?
Never hahaha.. I just enjoyed it so much that I tried to spend every free minute on the water. One day someone approached me with the question if I wanted to be sponsored. My dad joined me on my first sponsor meeting and we signed the contract.
After that my sponsor guided me in the pro-circuit and suggested me to try a competition once. I promised to myself to keep the fun and joy in the sport.
After university I gave myself one year to prove myself and I reckon that was the point that I decided that I wanted to continue this as long as I keep the fun and joy and as long I stay on top of my game.
Tragically there was an incident at Scheveningen beach two weeks ago where five local surfers were killed by stormy weather and sea foam. Our thoughts go out to their families and their friends who will be mourning their loss. Do you think things need to change to ensure that people who are out there doing what they love come home safely?
It was such a sad day for the surfing community 🙁 That day I had two amazing sessions (one with sunrise and one in the afternoon). When I got home my phone was full of messages as people were questioning if I was safe.
But I reckon nothing has to change; Watersports is a lifestyle and if you are on top of your game (also amateurs) are always taking a little piece of risks for granted, as we love our sport so much. So we try to keep it as safe as possible, but there’s always a little risk that we cannot take away. If you are not able to accept that risk, then this sport might be not your cup of tea.
Other than that I reckon it is always safe to let your family or friends know where you’ll be kiting and never go alone (though, I sometimes break that rule to go alone, but that the risk I accept).
Your kite surfing career has taken you to some amazing places so far, and I’m sure it will continue to do so for a long time. Do you have any highlights of countries you have visited?
There are several trips that come to my mind now. Some adventures are highlights because of their amazing conditions (big waves and good wind). For example; Mauritius and Indonesia. They hold crystal clear waters, 5 meter waves and just a paradise on earth. We kited with dolphins and whales along side us.
But in 2017 I traveled to Lake Natron, Tanzania to kite on a toxic and 70 degree hot lake. It took us 3 days by car to go through no-mansland to get there.
We slept in-between lions and hyena’s and when we got there my nerves where skyrocketing because I knew that I shouldn’t fall in the lake (otherwise I wouldn’t be typing this story). That was something completely outside my comfort-zone and because of that one of the biggest highlights.
Competitions and tournaments are also vital, it’s not all about taking in the beauty! Any career highlights that you look back on fondly?
Good results are always something great to chase and something a sportsman likes to achieve. I became 5th in World Championships in Austria and last year 8th in the World Championships in Australia.
I’m sure you’ve not been able to compete recently due to international restrictions. Do you have any competitions coming up in the near future that our readers should keep an eye on?
Unfortunately not. Due to the pandemic all the competitions has been cancelled until further notice. It’s really a bummer but I think in 2020 we will not have any competitions happening.
One huge change that has happened recently is the closure of gyms and exercise areas. How have you been managing to keep in shape over the past couple of months?
Luckily we’ve been having loads of amazing good condition here in the Netherlands. Last 3 days I spent on average 7 hours on the water each day.
Next to that I got myself a barbell and some weights to train in the garden and otherwise I get my race-bike out the garage and start cycling for 3 hours. To be honest, I fell a little bit in love with the race-bike. It pretty addictive I must say hahahah
But I cannot wait that everything gets back to normal and we are able to travel, train and break boundaries again 🙂
We suspected that you would have been keeping active! Roderick, we’re all really looking forward to working with you over the coming months, take care and we’ll see you soon!