Whilst in Morocco last month we met a lovely girl over dinner the first night we arrived. Neither of us knew each other but she was just one of those people who is instantly warm, friendly and gives you a really positive feeling when talking to them.
So, as is customary, before we went to bed we asked her what her name was, to which she replied Annelous.
To those of you who were not as quick as us at putting two and two together, Annelous Lammerts is one of the top female riders on the PKRA circuit and one of only a very small group able at the moment to challenge the dominance of Gisela, Bruna and Karolina, yet as we spent the next 12 days with her throughout the PKRA stage in Dakhla we learn’t that she is also a shining example of character in our sport. Hard working, humble and happy.
So, now it is our great pleasure to introduce you to Annelous Lammerts.
KSm: Hi Annelous, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Can you tell our readers a little bit more about you?
Annelous: I’m 20 years old and living in the south-west of The Netherlands. My homespot is the Brouwersdam where I started kiteboarding 4 years ago. When I’m at home I’m working in the kiteshop Natural High where I started working 3 years ago. The past 3 winters I have been travelling to warm kite destinations and in summer I work and travel around for the competitions.
KSm: We ran into you in Dakhla, can you tell us a little bit more about how the competition went for you?
Annelous: The competition went pretty well. I decided to come a week before the first day of the event since I didn’t get a chance to kite since the last PKRA stop in Panama. We had wind every single day and with the choice between choppy water and a perfectly flat lagoon right in front of Dakhla Spirit it’s a great place to kite.
During the competition we had to deal with very strong winds which we didn’t have the first week. The past winter I spend 3 months in Brazil where we only had light wind I wasn’t really prepared to compete on my 6m. Luckily all the riders were struggling with the strong gusty wind and in the end I was really happy with my 5th place.
KSm: What made you decide to focus on the competition side of riding and how did you get into it?
Annelous: After my first winter abroad some professional kiteboarders I met told me that I should compete. I wasn’t sure if I was ready but I tried it anyway. My first year competing I entered the five stops of the Kitesurf Tour Europe (KTE) and I enjoyed it so much. Meeting many new people and going to places I haven’t been before. Competing keeps me really motivated and makes me set goals. At this moment I wouldn’t be as motivated as I am now if I wasn’t competing.
KSm: With the constant travel obligations of the different stages of the tour, is it a much harder choice to train and compete than just to travel as you wish.
Annelous: After two years of competing in the European tour I was ready for a new challenge. This is my first year competing in the PKRA world tour and I like it a lot. Sometimes we have competitions at really challenging spots with strong wind and cold temperatures. Those tour stops are not as much fun as going to the nice places but it’s part of the tour. We have to be able to do the things we do in all sorts of conditions. After a competition with rough weather I always look forward to the next warm place that the PKRA world tour goes to. I like the variety and when I get tired of the travel obligations I can choose to do something different.
KSm: We know from the outside a lot of people think that as a competing professional kiter you live a life of 5 star hotels and first class plane tickets, however we know the reality is very different. How hard is it to meet the financial demands of competing and training for the tour, and what sacrifices have you had to make to help you do this?
Annelous: This is my first year on the world tour and I am learning that’s it really hard to meet the financial demands to do the whole tour. With 9 tour stops located all over the world the travel costs are very high and that makes it for newcomers like me hard to enter. The most difficult part is to find a balance between working and earning money, but on the other hand still spending enough time on the water to train. One thing you know for sure, your competitors are training somewhere windy and we need to keep up with them!
My sponsor Brunotti is really helping me this year, not only financially but also helping me to arrange clinics and find new sponsors. The most important thing is to keep trying and not give up when things get a bit hard. I am happy I can share my experiences with Kristiin who is also competing on the PKRA for the first year. Together we are trying to make it work. We are helping each other find the cheapest ways to travel and find cheap places to stay and train. Sometimes we will camp at parking places with our tent, sometimes we will find a great place to stay thanks to the help of nice people. We are just trying to make it to as many stops as possible, ‘gypsy style’ !
KSm: We know that us girls like to kite and train together and that you often travel and train with Kristin Oja. How difficult is it to put friendship behind you when you are lined up against each other in a competition heat?
Annelous: All the girls I travel, kite and train with I met during the competitions so I have been competing against friends since the beginning. It has never been a problem and that’s definitely one of the best things in kiteboarding. During the heat we just give the best we have and the one who’s riding better wins. We are just happy to train with each other, share our passion and push each other to improve more.
KSm: In the last few years the boys have really pushed their competition style and scoring criteria in the direction they wanted, as a result the girls have had to just follow suit. How do you see the development of the girls style and competition?
Annelous: The guys are riding super powered with the kite really low and of course the girls are trying to follow that. Some of the girls are doing some really sick mobes, just like the guys. Of course there will always be a difference in power, but I think the girls can ride with more elegance. With clean landings and maybe some nice grabs we can still make everything look very good, even though it’s not as powered as the guys.
KSm: We have seen you in the morning with your special muesli. How much attention do you pay to what you eat when you train and compete?
Annelous: I always try to eat healthy because I feel better and have more energy. I don’t pay too much attention to what I eat, I just make sure I get the nutrients I need to feel good and recover from my training. Travelling around means having to adapt to different cultures and ways of eating but there are always ways to make it work.
KSm: Other than your muesli what other essential travel items do you always have with you?
Annelous: I never travel without laptop and iPod. Travelling without music would be the worst and with my laptop I can stay in touch and spend my time waiting in airports in a good way. And of course I always take pretty much all my kite gear everywhere I go.
KSm: You left your shampoo in our shower so we know what you use to wash your hair, …but what girly products are most important to you when you are on the road and constantly covered in salt and sand?
Annelous: I also always travel with conditioner to take care of my salty hair; otherwise it will change into dreadlocks. Furthermore I always take some nice body lotion to take care of my skin, and of course loads of sunscreen. Thanks for the warm shower in your fancy bungalow btw!
KSm: Where are you off to next and what are your plans for the coming months?
Annelous: At the moment I am waiting in Tangier for my flight home. I don’t have too many plans for the rest of the year yet. I am going to the next PKRA stop in France next month for sure and then to Egypt. Kristiin and I are going to give a freestyle clinic together with Bigdayz. I have never been to Egypt so I am really looking forward to going there. It is the perfect place to do a clinic, train and compete. The rest of the season I don’t know. I am going to try to do as many tour stops as possible and we will see what happens next.
KSm: As is customary we let you finish with your choice of words of wisdom or thanks to close your interview.
Annelous: I want to thank Kite Morocco for my awesome stay at the Spirit Camp. It is definitely the best place to stay in Dakhla. The people are really friendly and there is just a really nice and warm atmosphere. I can’t wait to be back there! It was nice to meet you there see you somewhere around. KiteSista is a great magazine and hopefully we will get some more girls motivated to start competing.
Thank you Annelous, it has been a pleasure meeting you and we wish you all the best of luck for the coming stages of the tour and the rest of the year.