The Man Behind The Kite – Youri Zoon

We’ve been working on something special with two time kiteboarding world champion Youri Zoon. Youri joined Team LifeProof in January of 2016 and is currently sitting in second place in the world rankings with a huge drive to make his title 3x world champion. In advance of releasing our Virtual Reality video based on the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland we wanted you to learn a bit more about Youri. Check out our Q&A where Youri describes how he started kiteboarding and how he comes back from injury time and time again to be the best in the world.

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“as soon as I tried kiteboariding I knew it was for me”

Q. What was your first experience of kiteboarding? 

A. I was windsurfing, sailing and competing in so many other extreme sports and kiteboarding was the last step. In all of the other sports, I was missing something, but as soon as I tried kiteboariding I knew it was for me. It had the adrenaline, the emotion, the freedom and everything coming together in one package made it the perfect sport for me.

Q. How long after you tried kiteboarding did you buy your first set of gear?

A. Really quick actually, after 2 lessons I picked up some old gear to get me on the water. I was pretty young and didn’t have much money so I made my own board to help me get on the water as soon as possible.  Over the years I built up my gear and eventually became good enough to get a sponsor to help me with that. Back then there weren’t many schools where you could rent gear, it was basically if you took a lesson you purchased your gear directly after. 

Q. What beach did you learn on?

A. My home spot Brouwersdam in the Netherlands. I grew up windsurfing here and then developed into learning to kite here too. I have a strong connection with this beach as it has always been my go to spot with great conditions throughout the year.

Q. How does your phone fit into your schedule while traveling and competing in the most exotic places in the world? 

A. My phone is basically my office; it’s on my 24/7. I keep in contact with my friends, girlfriend. Then in relation to my kiteboarding I’m constantly checking the surf and wind conditions on Windfinder. Prior to joining LifeProof i could never bring my phone down to the water, but now i can bring my phone out on the water with me while i’m riding and capture some amazing footage. 

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“I knew straight away that I wanted to be the best”

Q. How and when did you know that you wanted to make kiteboarding your life?

A. It was pretty young actually, no matter what I was doing I just wanted to be the best, whether it was running or soccer in school I just wanted to be first. As soon as I picked up kiteboarding I knew straight away that I wanted to be the best. I didn’t take anything for granted though, I worked hard and pushed myself to the limits day in and day out and eventually I made it all the way to the top.  I won the world title and then have I kept pushing to stay here. 

Q. What has been your most memorable moment in your kiteboarding career?

A. Winning the world title has been the biggest moment in my career. It’s a bit cliché but I was dreaming about it from a young age and then finally the day i stepped on the podium and realised i had made it, it was such a rush. I was like wow, ok finally it is here, it was just incredible. That didn’t last long though, I was thinking what’s next now? 

Q. What has been the biggest air you have caught?

A. 20m in competition, but I’ve definitely caught higher air outside of contest. 

Q. Walk me through how you learn a new trick?

A. For me it works best to get out and try it, think about how it should happen. Get out and try it, you will smack down really hard time and time again, but after each fall you learn what you’re doing wrong and eventually your mind and body will come together and you will land it.

Q. You were the first to complete the Kiteloop 900, how did it feel after landing it. 

A. It was amazing, I was with a bunch of mates, we constantly pushed each other to try new tricks and push the sport. We all were all talking about it for a long time and I just went for it. It was an amazing feeling, but it was short lived. Straight away i was thinking about what I will do next and where will I push myself to, it is a never ending chase.

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“As soon as I want something I will do anything for it”

Q. You’ve proved time and time again that you can come back from injury and still be the best in the world. How do you do this, is it more of a battle with your mind or your body?

A. I’ve always been driven, I will never give up. As soon as I want something I will do anything for it. So this is what I think about when I’m coming back from an injury. There’s no shortcuts or easy ways to come back, i train every day and do everything the physio asks of me until I’m ready to get back on the water. After my last injury I was training all the time, eventually you get back to the level where you were at. It’s not winning the world title, but it is a great satisfaction that you have once again chased your goals and have made it.

I find it a challenge in both the body and mind for me, but the body is the toughest for me. My mindset pushes me to be the best but it can be challenging to overcome the physical issues.

Q. Who’s been your biggest inspiration in your kiteboarding career?

A. No one has been a really big inspiration for me in the kiteboarding scene. I’ve always looked up to people from different sports. I think Travis Pastrana embodies the persona I have always pushed towards. He’s great at so many sports and just loves what he does, he’s not there for fame, he’s just there to be the best at anything he sets his mind to and that inspired me. In kiteboarding there has never been a true inspiration for me, I looked up to them and said I can do this too. Kiteboarding has grown a lot since I began and we’ve pushed the sport much further. 

 

If you haven’t seen the sizzle of what is to come check out the below video:

 

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Alan Lund

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