‘As a surfer you live for days like these. It’s the kick’

Windsurfer Mike has a great day on the IJsselmeer at Beach Resort Makkum.Statue Harry Cock / de Volkskrant

The wind, the weather, the tide, the time: no, he cannot pass up this opportunity. ‘You experience this a few times in your life’, says Erik. The experienced windsurfer is just standing in his underpants in the parking lot behind the beach hotel in Makkum in Friesland to shoot into his wetsuit. Not exactly beach weather, with the torrential rain lashing the head of the pier. But the IJsselmeer is for him.

The trains stopped running. Planes were grounded. Schools remained closed or closed early. The garbage was no longer collected. There was certainly no football. Storm Eunice turned the weather code for the coastal provinces so red that the KNMI website became overloaded. Even the food delivery guild, which withstood the curfew amid the pandemic’s heyday, called it quits on Friday.

As a precaution, the Strandhuys in Makkum can only be entered via the side entrance. But the surfers, they surf. In the spirit of Slauerhoff, perhaps: ‘And hear the wind that complains, the tale / Of sailing, harbor, coast and endless.’

balancing act

See Jasper (38) from Tzummarum skim past the pier, a front loop make and land. Around half past two he beams with bliss in the shelter of the parking lot. ‘Delicious. When the rain front moved past, the wind blew in.’ The art of surfing? “Knowing when to get on the water – and when to get off.” With a small plank and 3.6 square meters of sail, he managed to beat Eunice.

To the laymen ashore, who marvel at them, they are daredevils. Even the administrator of the NL Kitesurfers Facebook group gave the compelling advice for the first time in its existence: ‘Stay at home, stay inside, it’s simply getting too extreme!’

But at Makkum Beach the surfers know exactly what they are doing. They say. It’s the balancing act, explains Jasper, dealing with the elements. The head empty, but certainly not the mind at zero. ‘It’s getting very violent now, thrusts to force 10. When you see haze moving over the water, there’s no stopping it.’ He can often be found near Wijk aan Zee, on the North Sea. “But if the wind blows that hard, it’s no use.” He also just heard that surfers are already being stopped there.

Mike also dares it on the IJsselmeer. The boy from Makkum is only 17 years old. ‘As a surfer you live for days like these. It’s the thrill. Jump, go fast, go hard.’ Irresponsible? The group of surf friends has a self-proclaimed ‘weatherman’ in their midst who warns when necessary. “But it’s shallow up to the pier. And we’re just adrenaline bombs.’ Only his weight (less than 70 kilos) can hold him back. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to do that after three hours.”


Opposite café-restaurant Beaufort, it already screams and sings and hisses and howls fearfully in the masts. There are approximately three hundred boats in the Marina Makkum marina. Port workers make another round of the quays, armed with extra ropes for a double, preventive belay. ‘We’ve been busy with that for three days,’ says Leo van Meerten. “When it gets dark tonight, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

In the harbor building the telephone is red hot, many boat owners are slightly worried. The biggest threat is that the water from the IJsselmeer will be pushed so high into the harbor that the lines will snap from the tension. ‘We’re doing what we can. But at a certain point the strength of man falls short against nature.’

On the beach that is now bathed in the backlight, two girls imagine themselves to be a sail, hanging in the western storm. Mike flutters the elements from his arms, his muscles relax. ‘Was it beautiful? I’ll go again in a minute.’