A name that is starting to make the rounds in the international kiteboarding community is Jamie Overbeek. Being only 14 years old, this Dutch up and comer holds the record for the highest jump in The Netherlands at the height of 31.4 metres. He’s also the youngest rider to hold a score of over 30 metres on the Woo leaderboards! More recently, he had an impressive 4th place finish in the Cold Hawaii Big Air Games up against some of the world’s best kiteboarders. With so much excitement happening in Jamie’s life in the last year, we can’t wait to see what’s in store. We caught up with Jamie for a Q&A and to hear more about his kiteboarding story, and how kiteboarding changed his life!
It must have been incredible to finish in 4th place at the Cold Hawaii Games and be standing next to Kevin Langeree (3x Red Bull King of the Air champion) and Lasse Walker (2015 Red Bull Megaloop Challenge winner). Congratulations!! Looking at the list of athletes competing in the Cold Hawaii event, were you nervous going into it? How did you think you would do?
It was a big surprise to be invited at all! I knew I had a cool submission video, but being 14 is a bit of an obstacle. When I got the mail, I was stoked, but a bit sad at the same time because my brother Sean didn’t make the cut. It took some time to realise it was for real, and it was a big win for me to be invited to compete. I planned to do my thing and ride as best as possible, throwing the tricks I was sure to land and getting the height. I had hoped but never thought that I would make it to the semifinals in a lineup like this.
Were you happy with your 4th place finish? What was going through your head?
Of course, I was stoked, and the adrenaline was rushing! I just wasn’t happy about the decision to switch kites from a 7.0 to an 8.0 for the semis. Just before the heat, the wind dropped, but it got stronger again in the first minutes. Think I could have done better on the 7.0, but hey, I made the semis and competed against Lasse Walker. He had a brief chat with me after the heat and told me that at one point, he got a bit nervous. What a compliment from a world-class rider! It was awesome, and I’m thrilled with the achievement. Hungry for next year!
A lot of the competitors are legends in the kiteboarding community. Did they have any memorable advice for you?
The advice I always get is to keep calm and prepare a strategy for riding in a heat. Throw tricks near the jury and the public. You can see how much competition experience the pros have, and that’s something you have to learn by competing more often.
You’re only 14 and riding at such a high level! What is it like travelling and competing at your age?
I’m not doing this on my own… kiteboarding has become a family lifestyle thing. My parents and my brother Sean (who is also an Ozone team rider) accompany me everywhere. So we do it all together, and everybody has his or her role in it. Competing in the big air scene is a bit odd because there are very few other riders my age competing at this level. It would be nice to have a sparring partner my age!
I understand that you were diagnosed with PDDNOS (pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified) at the age of 4, which is a form of autism with a touch of ADHD. How did this affect you growing up?
I mostly had problems with finding a way to release all the energy and restlessness I had in me. People didn’t understand that because on the outside you look “normal” (whatever that means), but in your head, everything is on overdrive. In my case, the diagnoses meant acknowledgement and proper support. In most cases, people diagnosed with PDDNOS have a field or unique talent that they excel in; you have to find out what it is.
How old were you when you first started kiting? When you were learning to kiteboard, did this disorder have an impact on that process?
I started playing around with kites at the age of six on the beaches of Denmark. I seemed to be able to transfer my overload of energy to the kite and would be kiting and sliding for hours. At the age of 9, I had my first depower open cell kites and got a landboard course on Rømø in Denmark. After that, all got more and more serious. Kiting seemed to be a way to gain control and shut off every other impulse in my mind.
How has kiteboarding impacted your diagnosis? What does it feel like being on the water now that you’re an advanced/professional level kiter?
It’s a life-changer; I don’t see my life without it anymore, and it has brought my family and me so much. On the water, I feel free and in my element. I’m very competitive with myself and always push to reach new heights and land new tricks and combinations.
You’re an experienced hydrofoiler, snowkiter, landboarder, and big air kiter. Which is your favourite discipline, and why?
It depends on the circumstances. If the wind is blowing big time, it’s big air for sure! The sense of freedom and the adrenaline boost that kicks in when you are battling the elements in a storm… There’s just nothing to compare this feeling with.
Have you dabbled in freestyle? Are there any other disciplines that you are focusing on other than big air?
Freestyle is not my game. I like to keep my knees as they are. Of course, I do some of the minor tricks, but nothing more than that. Not yet, anyway! My second focus is hydrofoiling, particularly big air and freestyle on foil.
Who inspired you to start kiteboarding?
That would be my dad, who bought the first two line kite in Denmark and handed it over to me after getting bored. He noticed the positive effect that kiting had on me, and paved the way for me to get into the sport.
Which professional kiter do you admire the most? Why?
There is not one specific rider that I admire most; I respect all styles and pick bits and pieces to form a style of my own. Of course, riders like Kevin, Nick, Lasse, Jesse, Steven, and young riders like Stig and Janek are doing some impressive stuff and are guys I look up to.
What is your favourite trick, and what trick are you having the most difficulty sticking?
Favourite I think is a radical, high (15+ m) kiteloop late backroll. Most difficult to stick in high winds is the kiteloop tic tac and kiteloop tail board off.
Who are you currently sponsored by? How have your sponsors helped you throughout your kiteboarding career?
My main sponsors are Ozone kites, Levitaz foils, and newcomer Surfr. My sponsors mainly provide the gear I need to perform at a high level with trusted and safe materials. Let’s not forget my parents, who are always supportive and assisting me all the way.
Tell us a bit about your gear choices; what is your go-to set up?
This is where I differ a bit from most big air riders. I started my career with foil kites, and they never left my quiver. I ride the Ozone Chrono V3 in 9.0 and 13.0 and the R1 in 18.0. I use these with a hydrofoil for cruising and hydrofoil and twin tip for big air and airstyle. On the Chrono V3 9.0, my best jump is 26.7m. At around 25 knots, I change to the Ozone Edge V10. My favourite size is 7.0, where I jumped the Dutch record of 31.4m. The Edge is my choice for big air and crazy high loops. Recently, I got the new Enduro V3 which is also great for looping and is even faster turning, so more radical.
What are your long-term kiteboarding goals?
I want to travel, visit, and ride at the world’s top kite spots, and compete in more big air events and gain competition experience. Ultimately, I want to ride in the world’s top events like the Red Bull Megaloop Challenge, King of the Air, and hopefully again at the Cold Hawaii games if it’s going to be an annual event. Also, getting involved in promotional activities and prototype testing, all while still having fun and not getting injured.
If you could spend a season at any kite spot in the world, where would you choose?
Well, that’s an easy one! That would be Cape Town, South Africa. I was there in February, and there’s just nothing that matches their conditions.
If you’d never discovered kitesurfing, where do you think you would be, and what do you think you would be doing right now?
Hard to imagine, but I think hanging around with other kids my age, playing games, watching Netflix and maybe playing soccer (the national sport of the Dutchies). Luckily, I discovered kiteboarding and don’t have to suffer that doom scenario!
When you’re not kitesurfing, what are you usually doing for fun?
Going to school… uh sorry, you asked for fun! The usual stuff, a bit of gaming and watching kite videos on Youtube. But when the wind is blowing at home, I go to a local field and landboard. For the record, we live in the east of Holland, 2 hours away from a decent kite spot!
What’s next for you? Any exciting plans for 2021?
The plan is stepping it up, training to get more variety in kiteloops, and doing some stuff not done before. I’m getting my KOTA entry finished and hoping to compete at the Cold Hawaii Games 2021. Hopefully, the world opens up a bit again, and I’ll be able to travel abroad and start on the major bucket list of places I want to visit. I sincerely hope there will be more big air events spread around the world and riders will be able to compete at any level. I’m also getting involved in a great project for a charity that I can’t tell you more about yet. And I hope to get companies within or outside the industry interested in supporting me to make my goals reality.
By Crystal VenessFeatures Editor at IKSURFMAG, Crystal Veness hails from Canada but is based in South Africa. When she isn't busy kitesurfing or editing the latest feature article for the mag, she is kicking back somewhere at a windy kite beach or working on creative media projects.
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