Prolific kiteboarding photographer injured

Published on March 2nd, 2021

Ydwer van der Heide

The beauty of sailing attracts participants but also artists who seek to capture it through their lens. Scuttlebutt is always grateful for contributions of photos and video, so it is heartbreaking to learn that one of the media soldiers is suffering.

Ydwer van der Heide, one of the significant photographers in the kiteboarding industry, suffered a terrible injury and now has a long and uncertain journey ahead. Here’s an update from the Global Kitesports Association:


On February 4, Ydwer was surf foiling near his home at Noordwijk in the Netherlands when his foil hit the ground and he was thrown forward. Landing on his head, he crushed the C6 vertebra in his spine.

Unable to move in the water, he was rescued by the friends he was surfing with and rushed to hospital by paramedics where he was immediately taken into theatre.

After a day on a ventilator and two days without it in ICU, then three more days in a neurology ward, Ydwer is now a resident at a specialist rehabilitation centre, Heliomare in Wijk aan Zee, where his treatment will continue for the foreseeable future.

Ydwer is one of the most prolific photographers when it comes to creating inspirational magazine cover shots, evocative action images for advertising campaigns, and for capturing sensational moments at international kiteboarding competitions. His images have helped riders develop careers and inspired a great many more to take up the sport.

Truly dedicated, he is also one of the only photographers to make his living purely from shooting kiteboarding. In a moment everything has changed but, as a testament to his immensely positive character, he has already promised the rehabilitation centre staff that it’s his mission to somehow take some good photos of their facilities as he couldn’t find any online!

Still without movement in his hands and legs, the next six months are crucial in terms of how Ydwer’s long-term recovery will look. Although his treatment at the rehabilitation centre in Holland is covered by insurance, the concern now is a loss of earnings due to self-employment.

A fundraising page has been set up to help make a difference at this very early stage of his recovery. To contribute, click here.

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