Hermel was crowned the world champion in the 2011 WWA Wake Park competition in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Spending eight to 10 hours at a stretch in the water may seem impossible to most people, but for Fabien Hermel it is an everyday affair.

The 38-year-old Frenchman, who was born and raised in the UAE, spends most of his waking hours cruising the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf. From slaying the waves on a kiteboard and gliding on a wakeboard to just surfing till sunset, there are many things he does when he is on the sea.

Co-founder and trainer of Eywoa Marine Sports at Yas Marina, Hermel pursues extreme water sports, both for a living and as a passion. “I got hooked on to water sports when I was four,” said Hermel who was crowned the world champion in the 2011 WWA Wake Park competition held at Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi.

“Now it is an addiction. I cannot sleep if I don’t get my daily dose of adrenaline,” said Hermel, never mind the fact that he has broken many bones while conquering the waves.

“I have almost ended up on a wheelchair by breaking my back. My knees, neck, elbows – nothing got spared,” he said.

“But over the years, you understand your limits and learn not to push too hard. I made those mistakes as a youngster because I did not have a trainer.” Hermel said he became a water sports coach to benefit others and help them avoid the mishaps he suffered. “I train more than 500 people at the Eywoa Marine Sports Centre. There are many who come from outside the UAE,” said Hermel who has been a certified coach for 25 years.

When he is not in the waters, he works as a sports consultant organising competitions and helping set up marine sports centres in different parts of the world. He claimed he has been consulted by such names as Rageboat, the floating water sport centre in Paris and the Al Forsan Centre in Abu Dhabi.

He said he hopes to see more government support to promote water sports at the professional level. He has a piece of advice for anyone who aspires to take up water sports: “It is not just about the adrenaline rush. You have to be disciplined and focused to enjoy extreme water sports safely.”