Meet The Engineer Who Spends Her Summer Creating Art & Kiteboarding In The Caribbean

"When you’re surfing, kayaking, camping, you stop rushing and start enjoying sunsets"

Photo: Jan Wachtmeester

Renske Herder grew up wanting to speed skate.

In her native country of the Netherlands, speed skating is one of the country’s most famous sports. It’s a form of ice skating where competitors race each other around an ice rink.

When you’re surfing, kayaking, camping, you stop rushing and start enjoying sunsets

A nostalgic pull to spending time with her family skating on frozen lakes and getting a hot chocolate together after made Renske want to become a professional speed skater.

Although she never went pro, her passion for surfing and kiteboarding was ignited by a love of the lifestyle.

Photo via. Renske Herder

“I liked the whole surf lifestyle and surf world a lot,” she explains.

“After my speed skating career, I thought now I can finally learn how to surf. We have a lot of wind in the Netherlands and not so many nice waves, so it was an easy choice to choose kiteboarding over surfing.”

Combining a passion for kiteboarding, art, illustration and design, Renske Herder spends her days travelling and drawing inspiration from her experiences for her art.

After her sister posted a video of Renske named The Art of Kiteboarding while she was living on the Caribbean Island of Bonaire – famed for its kiteboarding – Royal Kiteboarding caught wind of it and got in contact.

Now sponsored by Royal Kiteboarding, Renske has been testing out their kite and will be flying the Solo of Kiteboarding for a year.

For many kiteboarding – or kitesurfing – is unknown territory. Renske insists that it’s pretty easy to pick up because “the only thing you really need is water and wind – many countries have that.”

Photo via. Renske Herder

She’s adamant that “the surfing itself is just a little trick and once you have it it’s really easy and you are ready to learn the next trick.”

For Renske, it’s the “feeling of freedom on the water” that really excites her – that and being able to master the many tricks that kiteboarding has to offer.

I love the adventure, freedom and the physical workout that often comes with an outdoor activity

Whilst outdoors, action sports are often seen as quite ‘masculine’, Renske tells me that in her view there are “a lot of initiatives exist to encourage girls to get involved with outdoor sports already.”

“I think it’s a good thing because us girls might be a little more afraid to take that first step. But, of course, there’s always more that can be done and I think for girls it’s mainly about making the first step easy and comfortable.”


Photo via. Renske Herder

Although Renske is an outdoors enthusiast, she decided to focus on the creative side of her personality when choosing a university course.

Rather than applying to art school, Renske decided upon a subject – industrial design engineering – that had a somewhat scientific integrity to it, yet still allowed her to express her creative mind.

“At that moment in my life, I felt like I needed a bit more of structure in school. For my future, I thought it was best to go to a place where they really teach something about a certain subject.”

Admitting that if she really had to she would choose “art over kiteboarding”, Renske spends most of her time cooking up ideas for her next project, whether it’s a kiteboarding paintings, drawing on old surfboards or re-exploring her love of film photography.

“I’m currently working on patterns and the slightly more abstract decorative works,” she says of her most recent artwork. “Those that can be used for interior decoration, but also on bikinis and boardshorts.”

Photo via. Renske Herder

But for Renske Herder, it’s the great outdoors that is her biggest source of inspiration. It is what keeps her going as an artist, creative and sportswoman.

“I love the adventure, freedom and the physical workout that often comes with an outdoor activity. Both sports and adventure make it easy to enjoy the moment and not think about other things like work, appointments or money issues.”

“When you’re surfing, kayaking, camping, or anything like that, you have the feeling that you have more time. You stop rushing and start enjoying a sunset.”

Check out more of Renske’s work on her website:


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