Bart Van Maelzaeke - Responsible surf club Absolut

What gives you the most energy in your life?

I have been an avid water sportsman for more than 30 years: windsurfing, wave surfing and so on. I still find a good surf session hugely energising. Surfing makes everything very simple in a way. You can’t help but be completely in the moment. Your full focus is on the wave and the wind and there’s not a moment to muse away on life’s worries. Bliss!

After a surf session, I always come back full of energy. Apart from my own surfing sessions, I also get a lot of energy from sharing my passion with others. For instance, I guide numerous youngsters through their first metres on the water at Absolut surf club in Oudenaarde. It’s amazing to see them completely absorbed by the sport of surfing and the surfers’ way of life. The thrill on surfing their first wave, the first metres they windsurf full speed or their first jump...

What is the biggest challenge/the most important lesson in your life? And how do you deal with that?

Our 12-year-old daughter, Elena, has autism and significant developmental delays. That is without doubt the biggest challenge in my life. The daily worries, the almost non-stop alert when Elena is at home, are immensely tiring. That did turn my life somewhat upside down. I’ve never had big life goals (except for surfing as much as possible of course!), but if I had any I’ve had to adjust them to make them compatible with a life with Elena. It is a continuous search for the right balance between that all-consuming care for Elena, a quality family life, relaxation and professional ambition. It is not always easy to deal with that situation, sometimes I really feel like I am trapped in it. On the other hand, it has taught me at the same time to enjoy those typical little moments (it sounds like a cliché) all the more. Go with the flow: some things we just cannot force, it is sometimes much easier to take things as they come and then make the most of them.

Bart Van Maelzaeke sun

What would you say to your younger self today?

Hmmm, I don’t really feel that I have made many wrong decisions in the past. I’ve always steered my own course.

If I were to say anything to my younger self today, it would be this: seize every opportunity that presents itself.

Who do you look up to and why?

I don’t have many real idols. But when I look up to people, they usually have this in common: they are all people who think for themselves, who are not afraid to sail against the tide in the process and who, above all, do not give a damn what others think about them. I also look up to people who can see the positive in everything and approach life in a stoic way.