Surfing and skipping school
“Without surfing my life would’ve looked a lot different,” says Sacha Bongaertz. Knowing Sacha, he’s not wrong: Sacha lives to surf. However, it turns out he means it in a slightly more literal sense: “As a kid I had juvenile rheumatism. Before, I was the best at any sport I tried my hand at, but suddenly my body stopped working the way I wanted. For years, I felt handicapped until I discovered surfing.”
Sacha’s first time on a board was during a school trip, which he wasn’t excited about at all: “I was terrified of the sea, but I discovered the kick you get from moving on the waves.” Ever since that first time, Sacha was in the water nonstop, sea phobia be damned. “I skipped school and surfed as much as possible, even though the sea still terrified me. I was too stoked to quit.”
Around the world
Sacha’s appetite for waves couldn’t be stilled; even when he was only fifteen, Sacha made day trips to surf spots in Portugal by himself. After what seemed like forever, Sacha finished school. He started working as a surf instructor in the summer, traveling around and surfing wherever he could, whenever he could: “I am drawn to these wild, far away adventures.” Even though it was during one of these trips that Sacha encountered and conquered his first big wave, it would take some years for him to focus completely on big wave surfing.
“My first goal was to surf spots on every continent. Big wave surfing always felt good, you know, but it’s financially very hard to keep going.” Eight months out of the year, Sacha traveled the world and surfed nearly every country where good surf is found. Spots in Hawaii, Indonesia and Portugal became his favorites. It was three years ago when big wave surfing reentered Sacha’s life when he met team VIKING’s other member: Crispijn Hartzema.