Since Valentin Böckler won his Vito Mixto at a windsurfing contest, he can be found surfing in various places, mostly accompanied by this vehicle. Suitably converted with bed as well as space for all kinds of sports equipment such as surfboards and bicycles, the vehicle serves him as travel vehicle – and as a mobile living room and bedroom. But not only surf trips, also weekend trips with his family and dog are on the extreme sportsman’s program. He’s always ready for new adventures. Just back from Vietnam, the route continues directly to Denmark and Austria. Valentin Böckler documents his travels and adventures on his blog of the same name. There he uploads photos, videos and articles about his latest trips and competitions.
MYVAN: How did you come to use the Vito on your travels?
Valentin: In 2016 I won the Mercedes-Benz Surf festival Contest and the first prize was a V-Class for three months. I took a wonderful trip through Italy with it. But after signing as brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz Süverkrüp Automobile Kiel in 2017, the whole “Vanlife” thing really got going. The Vito Mixto is best suited for me as a windsurfer. Sufficient space for my windsurfing equipment and I have adapted the conversion to fit to my needs.
MYVAN: What was important for you during the conversion? Would you tell us more about it?
Valentin: As I travel a lot, a bed was essential to me, because I often sleep somewhere on the beach or on trips in the van. There must be enough space under the bed for surfing equipment and I wanted to have space for bicycles on the side. There should also be some space for a rear seat if I want to take more than two people with me. There should also be some storage space for clothes and such. First I did a rough drawing. I picked out the material myself and got it. But my dad helped me with the realization.
MYVAN: What were the biggest difficulties during the conversion?
Valentin: Next to the bed there had to be space for bicycles and in front for the bench and storage space. Thus it was difficult at first to create a construction at all, where you have an “adjustable” part and you can pull the bed in or out sideways. Plus, it couldn‘t be too heavy.
New projects come in every month, so it is never boring and always very varied.
MYVAN: You travel a lot. How do you choose your destinations?
Valentin: Most of my travels are based on the schedule of the competitions. But of course the wind at the destinations has to be right, because without wind I can’t train.
MYVAN: What is your dream destination?
Valentin: My dream destination is Hawaii. My sponsor GUNSAILS has already fulfilled this dream and taken me to the international photo shooting in 2013/2014 for two years in a row. After that, I honestly had few more dream destinations. In 2016 I was among the top 5 in a video award for drones and was invited to Norway. I was more than enthusiastic about Norway! If time allows, I’ll definitely go back there. I could also imagine the country as a destination for a road trip.
MYVAN: Do you have another travel anecdote you want to tell us?
Valentin: We went to the Hotel Pier at Lake Garda over Easter, because there is the most wind at noon. But unfortunately there is only one parking possibility on the roof of the hotel, because it is located directly on top of a high cliff. The path up there is very steep and feels as if it is only a meter wide. The difficult thing about the whole situation was that in 2016 I still had the extra-long Vito and therefore had huge problems keeping all four wheels on the ground in the curves. On the way down I had to get momentum, because it felt like I just had air under my front axle. I will never forget that and would not recommend anyone to go up there with an extra-long Vito, even if it was a fantastic session!
MYVAN: When and how did you start windsurfing?
Valentin: I was born in Esslingen near Stuttgart, but at the age of six we moved to the north and since then I have been on my windsurfboard every weekend either at the North Sea or Baltic Sea. My dad has been surfing for a long time and he infected me with the virus and taught me everything I know.
MYVAN: Cool. And how did you become a professional windsurfer?
Valentin: Good question. You have to train hard! However, this is no longer sufficient for windsurfing. It is quite difficult to earn money and make a living from it. But if you really want it, you can make anything happen. The key point is actually to push your name in the scene as best you can. This can only be achieved with publications in magazines, cool videos and photos as well as a large online network. During my studies I specialized in online marketing and did an additional PR training program. This has enabled me to make many contacts over the last few years and to embark on a kind of sports career. You have to make sacrifices to practice a sport professionally…
MYVAN: Are you often injured?
Valentin: When windsurfing it can happen that you strain or break something. In 2015 I broke my metatarsus while training in Egypt. After I had the green light to go on the water again, I broke exactly the same bone again in Brazil, this time plus two more. This is not unusual, of course. After repeated tests, we did a blood test. The result was a total lack of iron and nutrients. That’s why my bones could never grow together 100%. After an intensive infusion therapy I was able to get back on the water a few months later without problems or pain. In that year I almost put my sporting career behind me…
MYVAN: Luckily you kept going! How did you get fit again?
Valentin: I am fortunate to have the best doctors and physiotherapists around me through the Olympic base in Hamburg. Furthermore, my personal trainer helps me to keep fit. The most important thing is to listen to your body! Even if it’s just a cold.
However, in this “injury year” I was able to further advance my second mainstay and thus my independence in online marketing and media alongside all the therapies and physio appointments.
MYVAN: What do you do when you’re not travelling or surfing?
Valentin: Due to the many contacts I was able to make through my sport, a solid customer base has developed. This means that there is always something to do on the laptop. New projects come in every month, so it is never boring and always very varied. Nevertheless I am always happy to be home and spend time with my dog and my family before the next trip starts again.
MYVAN: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Still on the waves?
Valentin: Windsurfing is a passion and a way of life. I can’t go on without this sport, so I’ll just wait and see how it goes. The mix between sport and my independence fits optimally and I connect many projects with sports and travel. Without windsurfing I would not be where I am today.
Model: Mercedes-Benz Vito Mixto
Length: 5,140 mm
Width: 1,928 mm
Wheelbase: 3,200 mm
Gross vehicle weight: 3,050 kg