TeamAllianz water sports talent Sam Aben (kiteboarding)
Of all the water sports, kiteboarding has Sam Aben in its grip the most. Judging by his enthusiasm, it will stay that way for a while. That is why the water sports talent is looking forward to the Allianz Regatta during Dutch Water Week like no other.
Young, talented, eager to learn and optimistic. Sam Aben in a nutshell. The 19-year-old TeamAllianz kiteboarder has big dreams, but knows he has to work hard for them. And so he does.
It is clear where Aben’s passion comes from. He grew up in Scheveningen, spent hours staring at the rugged sea and as a child let fly his kite there. He’s sure that’s where his fascination with kiteboarding began, even though the sport didn’t exist in its current form back then. “I’ve been doing it for three years now. First it was kitesurfing, then foiling came in. This is kind of my thing yes.”
The speeds, the extremes, Aben lives for it. “You can do it with a lot of wind, or with little wind. The speeds you can get are the highest in water sports. The statistics show that. And you can keep the playfulness in it. I like that. Making jumps, you can do that with the same racing equipment. Sometimes it is even functional, if there is seaweed around your foil, for example. You can easily remove that during a jump, though.”
The past winter months he and TeamAllianz spent mostly on Fuerteventura, where kiteboarders often find ideal training conditions. Six days a week, hours on the water. You couldn’t do him a greater favor.
“I hung out with a group of experienced guys and that helped me a lot. From them I learned how to better use my experience in races. Because in trainings I do reach a high level and I’m close to those guys, but in matches it’s a lot harder.”
That’s why Aben wants nothing more than to sail races and why the Allianz Regatta comes in handy. Making meters and getting the best out of himself under pressure is what makes him better. “It is also a piece of mentality in which I still have to grow. Last year I unfortunately couldn’t compete at the Allianz Regatta because of an injury but was there to support our team. This year I hope to peak myself.”
Not only in waters near Almere, but also during the World Cup later this year in The Hague. “My town, where I grew up. Hopefully also with family as support. That is quite a nice prospect.”
Next year in Paris, kiteboarding will be an Olympic sport for the first time. Aben would love nothing more than to compete there for the Dutch team, but he realizes that qualifying will be a hell of a job. To finish among the top eight countries on a cleaned list (one spot per country) in major competitions, then the Olympic adventure might beckon.
Aben: “Maybe it’s not very realistic yet and I should set my sights on 2028, but as long as it’s possible, I want to keep believing in it and go for it.”
In Olympic and world champion Kiran Badloe (windsurfing/kitesurfing) and world champion Floris van de Werken (49er class), he has examples to look up to. “I talk to them and learn from them. They are nice guys. In that respect, I am spoiled and blessed to have so many top guys in TeamAllianz, our national sailing team. I can only benefit from that.”