Your bags are packed, you’ve left your home behind and… off to Costa Verde in north-west Portugal you go. I have spoken to Timo, an emigrant, who has made his dream of owning his own water sports school a reality. He is now enjoying the sunny side of life.

The dream of leaving your own country and resettling in a new place, perhaps even a place where the weather is different, and the culture is completely alien to you – this is a dream which many of us have. But who really has the courage to pack up their things, say goodbye to their loved ones and start a whole new life? Probably only a few of us. It is all the more interesting to talk to someone who has dared to take this big step and does not regret it. And I found exactly this person, whose story has absolutely fascinated me – I do not want to deprive you of it.

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Emigration – Why not?

What if your passion for water sports grows immeasurably, but at home, the conditions for surfing, kite surfing, and paddleboarding are simply not good enough? Well, why not head to Costa Verde and emigrate to Portugal?! Admittedly, what sounds so simple, should be a very well thought-out step. The risk of leaving your own country and separating yourself from everything you have ever known is quite big.

From dream to career

When I heard that Timo had turned his dream into a career by living in Moledo, Portugal, it wasn’t long before I was out of my seat and on the phone to him. He is now the founder of AllYouCanSurf. I wanted to know exactly what made him want to become so independent and move to a foreign country. Thus I made an appointment with him, so that he could tell me his story. This allowed me to dig a little deeper so that he could tell me every little detail of his adventure. We started talking right away and without having to delve deep at all, he told me about everything he’s experienced – it was fascinating!

My initial assumption, that Timo had been surfboarding from a young age, and therefore wanted to fulfil his childhood dream, was proven incorrect at the start of our conversation. Various sports, such as football, tennis, judo and stunt kiting, were a large part of his childhood. However, the first time he stood up on a surfboard was at the age of 17. He actually taught himself to surf when he went to the Atlantic Ocean for the first time with his friends. Nevertheless, he was a real water rat in his early years, and what is a surfboard today, was a snowboard back then – he started early.

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It’s no big surprise, that Timo’s study of sports science would come into question. And there were, of course, other sports on his timetable, including sailing and a windsurfing, which Timo was very enthusiastic about. The focus of his study was, above all, teaching sports. This led to him teaching 15 different sports during his studies. So why not earn some money with this skill? Said and done – if you have a theory in your mind, you can easily put into practice.

And so Timo taught himself to kitesurf within a few weeks so that he could teach the sport at the weekend. This soon sparked his own passion. As a result, at the end of his studies, he was faced with the decision of starting his doctorate or joining a water sports teaching team. For Timo, however, it has always been clear that he wants to do what he enjoys, as a profession. As he wrote his thesis on kitesurfing, the thought of his own surf, kitesurf and paddleboard school, became more and more concrete. Since 2011, he has been on the road around the world as a kitesurfing instructor, for the International Association of Watersports. He worked as part of a team, providing an international assurance of the highest quality teaching standards at water sports schools.

But Timo would not be Timo if he didn’t have a number of other qualifications. What also awoke his interest from early on, was inner satisfaction. For this reason, in 2009 he founded the non-profit educational institution Paidaia, in cooperation with two professors. This institution supports socially disadvantaged children and young people, during the search for their identity. He is currently studying economics and working together with people, to find the meaning in life. “Everyone should be free of social constraints and do what makes them happy,” he explained to me. This sentence alone got me thinking. One thing’s for certain: his opinion is spot on. As with so many athletes, health and nutrition are very important to Timo – this allows him to work as a personal trainer and nutrition coach as well.

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A true all-rounder or just interested in many things? Whatever it is – from my own experience, it’s not often that you meet people who have a goal so clearly set in their mind and know exactly what they want from life. And Timo knows exactly what he wants. “My dream has always been to make money, by doing something which makes me happy. And so it was clear to me that I wanted to align the components of sport, nutrition and the mind.”

What makes you happier than inner satisfaction, a healthy body and a hobby, which takes you to your limits? Why not make a plan yourself? Surf schools are everywhere these days – but there are none which take both mental and physical well-being into account. But that wasn’t the only fundamental idea for the creation of AllYouCanSurf. As you know, every surf spot has its own particular weather conditions – if the weather doesn’t cooperate, then you’ve simply been unlucky. But you don’t want bad luck on holiday, do you? No! And that’s exactly why Timo came up with the idea of founding AllYouCanSurf.

AllYouCanSurf

  • Kitesurfing
  • Surfing
  • Paddleboarding
  • Catamaran kite-safari
  • Yoga
  • Fitness
  • Workshops
  • Trekking tours

A water sports school, where you can learn to surf, as well as kite surf and paddleboard. And if none of these three sports is for you, you can head to a yoga class, attend workshops on nutrition or fitness, enjoy the wonderful nature, or take day trips to various places around Moledo. Porto is also nearby and will entice you with its vineyards and exquisite culture. The Spanish town of Vigo it also just a stone’s throw away and trumps the Costa Verde region, with its breathtaking rivers, forests and national parks.

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“It happens often enough,” says Timo, “that couples visit us, but only one partner is interested in water sports. But in order to go on holiday together, a holiday resort has to offer more, so that both get their money’s worth.” And Costa Verde offers this wide range of possibilities. This is why the young sportsman decided on Moledo.

This destination was a secret tip from a friend, he told me. By the time Timo started setting up his business, there was no competition at all – which is really rare in this industry. And because of the favourable conditions for both surfing and kitesurfing, as well as paddleboarding, Moledo is a paradise for active holidaymakers. It’s also far less crowded than the Algarve. As Timo was so enthusiastic when describing the idyllic nature and prevailing calmness here, I was able to vividly imagine Moledo. This destination is now on my imaginary travel list.

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Every emigration is connected with sleepless nights

But even if you have a concept in mind and are willing to make your vision come true, it’s still difficult for you to take such a big step. Timo had numerous sleepless nights over this decision, he tells me. Is it crazy to turn down three offers for his doctorate (and thus acquire the title of a doctor), and instead found a water sports school? Honestly, yes. And that’s exactly what Timo knew, but he still decided to turn his dream into reality. With six semesters of Spanish in his pocket, he didn’t find it too difficult to learn Portuguese. This made the beginning of his life in Portugal considerably easier for him. Almost 15 years have passed since the idea was formulated. Timo has now lived in a foreign country for four years. He now owns a successful surf, kitesurf, and paddleboard school.

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But anyone who believes that he’ll call it a day here, doesn’t know him well enough. In total, Timo would like to open up 5 to 6 AllYouCanSurf schools in different countries. These should all meet the same standard, as well as Timo’s high demands of sports and motion science expertise. Timo recently opened a school in Petten in Holland, and there are also plans to open one up in Brazil.

His own training centre in the middle of nature is high on his list of things he wants to achieve in life. This would be a place where people are viewed for their integrity. Components such as contentment, sensuality and health education would be brought into focus, and combined with stress reduction, yoga and natural events, to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Who knows, we may hear from him again in a few years. ;-) I’m sure he’ll keep us all up to date!

Back home in the offseason

As I’m sure you can imagine, with so many plans also comes a lot of ‘office work’. That’s exactly how it looks – when the season in Portugal is over, the seriousness of life, so to speak, begins for Timo. He usually spends most of his time in the off season back at home, at his desk. So he hasn’t completely left his homeland behind! But even when he is in the country, he isn’t held down to one place. He’s always travelling around giving lectures, on the subjects of exercise in the workplace, nutrition or inner satisfaction. He also teaches courses and trains kite surfers.

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Wanderlust was not the main motivation

Although Timo loves to travel around the world and has already visited all the continents, I had the feeling, that his main reason for emigration was not his desire to travel. Although he seems to have fallen in love with the Portuguese coast and the entire Iberian peninsula, his reason was different. Everything he’s worked for so far, is to know where he stands in life, and what he’d like to achieve: his greatest wish is to show other people this. Namely, to show what everyone’s individual purpose in life is.

Behavioural patterns which stand in everyone’s way should be discarded. Instead, everyone should realise what is important to them, so that they can achieve their individual path to inner satisfaction. Of course, it is obvious that both fitness and nutrition play an important role in physical well-being. And as kitesurfing is his passion, Timo has united all of these things in his AllYouCanSurf school. Timo has actually managed to bring together the things which are most dear to him and has made them into a profession. I’ll tell you now, after our conversation, I was speechless. I was speechless with respect and admiration, because of what this emigrant has achieved. And believe me, I’m sure that we’ll hear more from Timo in the future.

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