During my trip to Bonaire this past winter, I met this small, white, dutch kid, whose talent just blew me away. Whether it was sliding in the Mangroves on superflat water, or throwing Shakas and Ponches in the choppy middle of Lac Bay; 14 years old and already schooling the older guys. Mad skills. His name is Schmidt, Youp Schmidt.
But, let's take it from the top.
Coming from a family of five, being the youngest of three brothers, he had good competition in the water, even though his brothers were more into regular surfing. Moving from Holland to Bonaire was the kicker for his windsurfing. Every day after school he lined up on the road outside the classrooms, hitchhiking his way to the beach together with his brothers. His brothers left him at Sorobon as they went to Baby Beach to get some waves, and he just went on training until the sun went down - move after move, trying new things all the time, dreaming of making it like the Frans brothers.
Even though you might be living on Bonaire, where the wind is pretty much 24/7, 365, there are times when you can't windsurf. When the wind was not playing ball, Youp would be messing around on the streets of the city, skateboarding or just hanging out with his friends.
About two years ago it all started coming together, he got the Spock down after a really hard time trying to make it work. This was the point where his sailing got more confident, and progression was on it's way. To this day, landing the Spock for the first time is still one of his most fond memories from his windsurfing life.
Fast forwarding to the present time, countless hours hitchhiking and practice on the water has laid the foundation for a really solid set of skills, as well as a sickly smooth style. Being so young and so talented - and a really bright dude for that matter - he knew that it was time to step up into the big league and take his game to the international scene.
This is about the point where I met him, every day trying to beat each other with new moves in the Mangroves, busting each others heads on the beach or just tipping over girls in canoes. He's still just an ordinary kid, doing ordinary things. But when Youp's on the water that ordinary kid is lost somewhere between a Double Spock and a high Shaka; most of many kids in their early teens can only dream of sailing with his flair and confidence.
Pretty recently the Starboard World Championship for kids was held in Sardinia, Italy. This had been Youps' goal from the beginning of the season. He had even been trying to raise money on the beach from the tourists, to be able to afford the flight to Italy. This soon proved itself to be a really good idea, and as soon as summer rolled around he was on his way to Sardinia, where he performed out of the ordinary. He convinced the judges with a smooth repertoire of freestyle moves to take the Prokids under 15 world title.
Right now he's in Holland, surfing Brouwersdam, getting some experience of life in Europe. He even managed to put together a video of his sessions, which shows a lot - but certainly not all - of his skills. I can tell you this much: Come to Bonaire and he'll blow your mind.
Finally, I just want to take the opportunity to make y'all understand how good Youp really is. My qualified guess is that he - praying that no injuries cut the pace of his progression - will make an impact on the Pro Tour before he hits 20. Until then it's all about having fun, and being able to handle losing to me in the Mangroves next winter...