Hi Winds Aruba is all about windsurfing and kitesurfing. If you’re looking for young athletes you’ll find them among the windsurfers. Kitesurfing is something for the old experts—up to this year. In the men’s open competition as well as in the women’s, two rising stars cannot be neglected. 14-year old Christiaan Zweers and 15-years old Annabel van Westerop not only stole the show but also ended up with remarkable results. Christiaan placed third position, leaving eleven older and more experienced kitesurfers behind. Annabel excelled among the five participating ladies, and won all competitions in her class with ease.
If you look for Annabel on the beach of Fisherman’s Huts you’ll probably find her on her kiteboard or behind the bar, helping her mother who is volunteering during the event. Annabel is Jos and Manja van Westerop’s only child. The three of them form a tightly-knit sports-loving family.
Via father Jos, Annabel became acquainted with kiting after trying out windsurfing for half a year which her mother Manja thought would be more suitable for a girl. Anyway, at 14, the tiny Annabel was too young for the extreme sport.
In the meantime Annabel was not sitting around. With her mother she shared another sports passion: horseback riding. Not just for a Saturday afternoon! No, if you Google Annabel’s name you can see her participating in the Pasofino Worlds in Medellin, Colombia where she won silver this year.
“I share horseback riding with my mom since I was very young” she says, “but I take kitesurfing more serious now. My mom let me practice gymnastics, but that was not my thing. As soon as I was allowed to join my father in kiting I knew: this is it!” Annabel took four lessons, and intensively and fanatically trained with her father’s help. After two months she participated in her first long distance race and grabbed third place.
Annabel moved to Aruba four years ago and is planning to stay for three more years before it’s time to move abroad to study.
“I’m so lucky living in a place like Aruba where the conditions for kitesurfing are near perfect. In strong winds I use my Cabrinha ‘5’ kite, but most of the time it’s an ‘8’ for me. At the moment I’m practicing new freestyle tricks like the front roll, back roll and a blind side, but my favorite still is the kite loop!”
The same night Annabel shows her tricks as if she’s never done something else. “I like “hang time,” a kind of competition to see who can stay in the air the longest”
Back on the beach Annabel reveals her next challenge: training and competing abroad. She surely will be heard of!