Dutch rider James Van Drunen started SUP four years ago. At the time James was no sportsman, but he decided to make SUP a priority in his life and sought to become a SUP champion. Having made many sacrifices and invested in a lot of training, James makes the exclusive announcement to TotalSUP that he is becoming a rider for Mistral International over in Australia.
Hi James! 4 years ago, you claimed that you would become a SUP champion. After all the efforts and sacrifices you’ve made, you plan to announce a huge change in your life as a SUP rider. Can you tell us a little bit more about this?
My dream is to be a SUP champion and always will be. It’s taking its time but the hard work over these past few years is starting to pay off slowly.
My amazing sponsors at Mistral have invested in me and they are confident in helping me achieve my goals. The huge change in my life right now is that I’ve since moved to the other side of the world, to Sydney, Australia.
Why have you chosen to go to Australia to take on this challenge?
After a long 10 weeks on the tour racing around Europe, I came back home to see friends and family for a week and then got the chance to travel to Australia. Having only been home for a week, it was then a very quick decision.
But now that I’ve gotten to Australia, I have realised that the decision I made was the right one for me. I took on this challenge because its a place that I have always wanted to go to, its far away from home but with the technology we have nowadays it’s really easy to get in contact with everyone from anywhere in the world, so the distance doesn’t feel as great as it might have before.
Mistral and Marine Riley (a Mistral distributor) have given me the chance to learn more and gain a truly in-depth knowledge about stand-up paddle. With Mistral, I am fully supported and able to train for upcoming races here in Australia.
You are going to train for Waterman races in Tahiti. Can you tell us more about this?
My other dream is to compete and complete the TAHITI IRONMAN. It is truly one of the most challenging races physically and mentally-speaking.
Having raced two times at the 11-city race tour in Holland, I wanted to train for something more challenging and to push my body to the limits. It’s still a rather fresh thought for the time being, but it’s certainly an ambition I have in mind for the near future.
How did the deal with Mistral come about?
Very naturally in fact. Mistral approached me to offer me the opportunity to train and learn more under their tutelage. I saw it more as a chance to learn and get more knowledge on the sport and to train to a high level. It has also been an opportunity to get to grips with more watersports, such prone paddling, OC1 etc.
You underwent a real physical transformation since you first took up SUP. What are the biggest changes that SUP has brought to your life?
Stand up paddling has changed my life completely in every way. To start with, it has helped me lose 25 kilos over the course of a year, and it has taught me to lead a much more healthy life generally. Being a young overweight boy was never easy for me in school, but paddling really gave me was the gift of self-confidence.
What training methods and lifestyle changes did you adopt to attain such a high level?
It may seem silly to say, but the primary training method for me was getting on the water as much has possible and looking up to my idols and see what kind of paddle trainings they did themselves.
The other methods I adhered to consisted of going to the gym regularly, where I was helped by my personal trainer Phil Evans. The major lifestyle changes I implemented consisted of no longer eating so much junk food and playing 6 hours of video games a day. From this I went to training and being outside all the time. Quite a change.
How is your family helping you pursue your objectives ?
The way they are helping me is like every family should do, and that is by supporting me all the way. They saw that I love paddling and that I’m always working hard on my training. They support me without applying any pressure at all.
To see all my family supporting me makes me want to work harder and harder, but without their support I wouldn’t be where I am today.