With consent from Queen Beatrix of Holland, On the 1st of May I received a recognition for being 6 times world champion from the Aruban governor Fredis Refunjol. With this recognition I became a knight in the order of Orange Nassau.
Getting this recognition was quite special for 2 reasons: I was the youngest person to be knighted this year in the Netherlands and this was the last time Queen Beatrix would give her consent for these recognitions as she has abdicated in favor of her son King Willem-Alexander.
When I first heard I would receive this recognition I wasn’t sure what to think of it and was making jokes about soon having a black stallion accompanied by suit and sword very soon! Finally they announced all the people that were knighted on the 26th of April in the Netherlands. Including me. That’s when all the congratulating messaged flooded in. Wow ! That’s when I started realizing that it really is an honor to get this special recognition and that it was something to celebrate. I was quite overwhelmed by the support but really appreciate it all.
A ceremony was held especially for me in the “Aruba house” in The Hague where I received the recognition from the Aruban governor Fredis Refunjol who resides in the Netherlands. My parents flew in from Aruba and my brother had just flown in from the world cup in Austria. Also My friends and some more family as well as some Aruban parliamentarians were there, including prime minister Mike Eman.I usually don’t say much because on occasions like this because I get pretty nervous from the attention but this time I put some time in writing some things down so I could properly thank people.
First of all I had to thank God for blessing me with all of these achievements and giving me the opportunity to practice this sport around the world.
Furthermore everything I achieved up until now has been because of the input of so many people! Biggest thank you goes to my parents Ruud, Esther and my brother Quincy for being my role-models in everything they do. But also all the people who have helped me from when I started all the way to where I am now, from teaching me to windsurf in Aruba, to helping me rig my sails, repair my equipment, Sponsors providing me with equipment and the means to travel, sailors on tour giving me advice at competitions and people wishing me good luck and showing me support for upcoming competitions. This is what keeps me motivated to do my best!
I actually made it on national television as well with some freestyle footage. Which I think is nice for people who have no idea what windsurfing nowadays looks like (No we don’t sail with 200l boards and triangle sails anymore!). Anyway it would be nice to get some more exposure for the sport.
In the end it was a really special day and I enjoyed every second of it. I felt really blessed having my family and friends with me.
Again… I’ve received massive support for this I can’t thank you all enough and am completely humbled.