windgirls-portrait: Nina Heiberg, N-10

Nina in her own words

Interview with Nina



I was born in Hong-Kong on June, 1st 1978 and lived there till I was six, so English was the first language I spoke. Later, when my whole family (my parents, who are both Norwegian and my two elder brothers, "Elling"– now 25, and "Eric"– now 22) moved to Norway and I learned Norwegian. I did most of school in Norway, but at the age of 16 I moved to Gran Canaria and finished off highschool there. There is a Norwegian highschool, so it was perfect! I could finish my highschool studies at the same time as I was learning how to windsurf. I spent most of my time on the canary islands untill I was 20. At 20, I felt it was time for a change, and I moved to Maui to continue my studies there.

So now I live and study on Maui. I live with Kelly Moore, in her house which is located less than two minutes away from Ho'okipa Beach park and study at the Maui Community College. I am a major in Liberal Arts, and I am going for a business degree, but since this is my first year, I am still doing the "core requirement courses". Next year I might have to move over to Oahu to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

I would like to stay here on Maui for longer, because the sailing is better here, but I have to put my studies in "first place". Anyway, if I have to go over to Oahu, I'll be sailing "Diamond Head" and "Backyards"...

I started sailing slalom and got my own gear when I was about 16, and to be honest I was a REALLY slow learner in the beginning. It took me forever to learn how to do the waterstart and the jibe (probably mostly because I started out on the wrong gear: fully-cambered, heavy slalom sails, which were hard to get out of the water). I sailed slalom for a while and did some races in Norway with my brothers. I didn't start wavesailing untill september 1996, in Gran Canaria. I got my own waveboard and little by little I started figuring out how it works… The very next summer in July (less than a year later) I sailed in the Grand Slam on Gran Canaria, and placed 16th. I kept on sailing in the canaries, and I sailed A LOT.

The year after (1998), I placed 7th in the same competition. Now I still have the ranking from 1998, which is 7th in wave and 8 overall. I have stopped racing, simply because the gear is too expensive and I don't have sponsors that can help me out with that. But: wavesailing has become my true passion anyway, and I just love it. Now that I live on Maui, I get the chance to sail good waves, and I can't even explain how much I enjoy it. Currently I am sponsored by "Quatro" boards and am on the Simmer Style Maui team. I am "stoked" about that, because I have been breaking quite a lot of gear lately and it is really expensive to get new gear all the time.

I have got other interests though: I used to telemark-ski a lot, (before I moved away from Norway) and I was in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games at Lillehammer 1994 (telemark skiing). I still go skiing when I go home. I spent a lot of time rock-climbing (mostly indoors, but also outdoors), but I haven't been able to do it lately, because I don't have anyone to climb with, and I don't know where to climb here on the island.

I also used to waterski a lot, but unfortunately I don't ever get the chance to do that anymore (I need my dad and his boat...)
Now I mountain-bike, roller-blade with skipoles, swim, longboard-skateboard and dance (modern dance/ballet; I have danced most of my life) – when I'm not in the water and windsurfing or surfing.
Other than that, I hang out with my friends, drink coffee, go to the movies and all that stuff that people of my age do…

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"I want to sail like the guys!"

? Norway is known for sportsmen like Lasse Kjus and Björn Dählie, the Jensens grew up on the canaries. How can a girl from Norway become a passionate windsurfer?

! Good question…
It's all about knowing what you want and following your dreams. Knowing that if you really want to, you can do it. My dream is coming true.
My father and brothers introduced me to the sport, and I liked it a lot. I am pretty stubborn, so when I make up my mind about something, I usually end up doing it. I really wanted to learn how to windsurf, so I did.
? Every sportsman/woman wants to get well known for his/her performance: What is the headline of your dreams?
! If I was to get well known some day, I wish it were JUST because of my waveriding, and wave sailing skills. But I stillhave to wait for a while till that happens, because I have to learn it properly first.  ;-)

? If you have the choice: Do you prefer Pozo or Maui?

! Maui, because I love the place. It's mellowness, it's waves and wind, it's beautiful nature. Everything about it.

? What is your favourite windsurfing-spot?

! Without a doubt: Ho'okipa. Especially on days where it's not too crowded, and the waves are good.

? As far as I know you have learned windsurfing in Arinaga, Gran Canaria. The water tastes awful there, doesn't it? And how long did take you to do your first planing jibe?
! The water there is contaminated and has actually made me sick a few times, it also infects all your cuts - and I always have about 1000 cuts on my feet.
I don't know how long it took me, but as I mentioned, I was really a slow learner in the beginning, and it was not until I started to wavesail that things "worked out" for me and the learning-process got a lot quicker.

? Is it sometimes hard for you to be in the men's shade? Do you have the impression that the girl's performance is not given proper attention? How do you deal with that?

! Who says we're in the men's shade? Maybe the PWA don't give us the appropriate attention, but we will get it sooner or later (starting with windgirls!) and people will realize that they were wrong to keep their eyes "set" on the men. Look at women's surfing… – now who's in the shade there? The female surfers are going off, and they are getting the attention they deserve. It's only a matter of time till the female windsurfers get their "share" of it.
I don't really deal with it. I mean, of course it's bad that it is that way, but I just try to stick to a positive attitude. All I want, is to sail. I really don't let that kind of stuff annoy me too much. I think that if I did, it might take away some of the fun, and I can't let that happen.

? Some people don't think that the girl's windsurfing provides radical action. What do you answer such people?

! How can I find an appropriate answer to that without being rude?
I guess I'd just have to make sure they understand that they are WROOOONG…
If they don't think girl's windsurfing provides radical stuff, they are not looking. They should come here to Maui and watch the local girls like Kelly Moore, Jennifer Henderson & Jennifer Ellefson rip it up, or go to Japan and watch the Japanese girls rip, or to Gran Canaria and watch the Moreno-twins. Come on: there are PLENTY of girls out there who are ripping…

? Do you have any models – in Windsurfing, in life in general?

! I have many models, people who I look up to and adore. These people are people who teach me stuff about life in general, people who make me realize things that I don't see myself. Such people are for example my parents and brothers, my grandmother, my friend/sister/extra-mom/room-mate Kelly Moore.
In windsurfing I look at Keith Teboul's style and just hope that ONE DAY, I'll be able to be remotely close to sailing like him. He surfs the wave like a surfer. Forget about the sail, he surfs the wave.

? Which move is – at the moment – the biggest challenge for you? Which move do you train right now?

! I don't really think of it that way. I'm not training on a move. I go out there every day, having fun, and improving that way. I want to waveride well, and the only way I can do that is by spending time on the water. I don't think I would be able to learn anything at all if it wasn't fun. I don't think about training, I go out, sail & have fun and automatically improve. I see it as a "time & effort" kind of thing. I am willing to spend most of my time on the water because I love it so much, and it makes me relax and gives me a "kick". Sometimes I stay out there even though I feel tired. I keep saying to myself "ok Nina, you have to go back in now. – One more wave only… Ok, ONE more. Then another one and so on". I end up staying out there hours longer than I had planned for…

Women windsurfers are going off!

? Freestyle seems to be the most dynamic discipline at the moment. Is freestyle the future of windsurfing? If possible – would you like to freestyle at the Austrian event (Lake Neusiedl) next year?

! Freestyle has a lot to it, because it is something everyone has a chance to do. It doesn't require perfect conditions, and is "open " to everyone. I must admit that I am a bit spoiled, because I haven't spent much time freestyling, because the conditions for wavesailing have been so good, but now that the summer is coming and the winter-swells are going I might have more of a chance to put some time into it.
Of course I would. That sounds like fun!
? This year there may be a chance to freestyle at Sotaveno, Fuerteventura.
Do you train all the new moves like air tacks, volcans, willy skippers and so on?

! No, but I probably will in the future.

? Which move do you consider to be more difficult? A high forward in the waves or a "Spock" on flat water?

! A spock. A forward is just about "going for it", while the spock includes a lot of awareness of what you are doing.

I want to win, and I want to be the best waverider.
I want to sail like the guys. 

Nina, what does life mean to you?

Life is about being happy with yourself, by yourself. If you can manage that, I think you will be ok, because in order to achieve anything in life, I think it is important to start out with yourself and move outwards.
If you are not happy by yourself, how are you going to be happy with others? Happiness comes from within, and if you are happy, good things come to you.

? Concerning groupies: Can you imagine to "enjoy life" like some of the boys do? Or is sex a question of love?

! Sex is definitely a question of love.

? Who are your best friends/comrades at the tour?

! I am pretty much friends with everyone. Kelly Moore is probably my best friend though.

? What are your aims in windsurfing, especially on the PWA-tour?

! I want to win, and I want to be the best waverider. I want to sail like the guys.


Top of the Page People HOME text: Andy Aichinger, photos: Rick Leeks; © windgirls 1999