BECOMING AN OTC TEAM RIDER: A DREAM COME TRUE
What does it take to become a Team Rider for The OTC? How do you become an ambassador on a board? A new younger generation of windsurfers are honoured to fly The OTC flag; in this interview we speak to James Faley, 16, and find out why he is prepared to shout from the rooftops about why The OTC is such an awesome brand?
James passionately and enthusiastically promotes The OTC to everyone and the reason behind this is a real grateful acknowledgement of everything The OTC has done for him. In his own words, 'windsurfing sets him free.' James is an incredibly inspirational young man, someone that has had to face up to more than most his age, yet he carries himself with a strength from within that is admirable. He attributes his inner strength to the escape he feels when he windsurfs.
James had his first taster session at The OTC in 2013 when he was 10. He didn't windsurf again until he was 11 and then he was hooked for life! He said: “I used to sail with my old school and I thought how cool it was that these windsurfers could fly past me at what looked like 100mph. I got into windsurfing by booking a Start Windsurfing Course, at The OTC when my grandparents were looking after me whilst my mum worked. I don't think they quite realised that it was going to become one of the biggest parts of my life!
“What I enjoy the most about windsurfing is the freedom of just being at one with the elements. Sounds cheesy, but it's true. Oh and I just like to go fast! It is impossible for me to pick just one windsurfer I look up to, but names that spring to mind would be Tris Best, Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers, Ross Williams and my parents.
"I windsurf because it sets me free from the stresses of life. It allows me to switch off and put things into perspective."
“The OTC have been supporting me since day one. I would spend every waking moment thinking about windsurfing and what I could do to improve, and I still do! (If my teachers see this sorry, but it's true!) I would go down to The OTC and just feel like I could be myself, what with the pressures of trying to fit in at school, it just allowed me to relax. It is not just a place I windsurf, it is my second home!
“To be a rider for The OTC is honestly a dream come true. I had always looked up to the original Team Riders and wished that one day I could be like them. I accredit the centre with a lot of who I am as a person today and to be able to spread the influence that the OTC has given me is really rewarding.
“A windsurfer that inspires me, there is too many to mention, but my standout would be one of the riders who often trains down at The OTC with us - the legend that is Ross Williams. I ride slalom and foil equipment from JP and Neil Pryde and Foil Worx fins. I enjoy slalom racing the most, as I am very competitive! What I get out of windsurfing is the obvious answer of physical fitness, but for me more importantly is mental stability, as it keeps me grounded and motivated to continue pushing.
“Tris has been there for me since day one. He has not only allowed me to do what I love to the highest level, but also been my mentor and guidance in many ways beyond windsurfing. By having Tris believe in me has boosted my confidence and by helping me with equipment he has made anything possible. I'm lucky to have been to some pretty cool places now to windsurf, but my favourite place has got to be Portland Harbour, it’s where my friends are and it provides top notch sailing conditions.
"There is more to being a Team Rider than first it might seem, it is not as clear cut as many might think. It is not only about sailing to the highest standard possible, but also offering genuine advice to those that need it. I just want to share the amazing support that I had when I was learning to others.
"The OTC has been so important for me as it has been like my sanctuary, it has saved me in so many ways and allowed me to live my life to its fullest. I’d be lost without it."
“I compete on the slalom tour in the UK, where we travel around the country displaying our sport. I also compete in the Youth World and European Slalom Championships. I would say to anyone thinking of trying windsurfing, go for it! Whilst the learning curve is steep, once you have been fast forwarded through this stage with The OTC, you will realise what a truly amazing sport you have become involved in. Most important thing is to stick with it! If you are looking to improve your windsurfing, ask around the beach, and book into one of the frequent clinics that are at The OTC. Personally I look at the videos of all of the top pros from around the world and try to break down their movements, so that I can understand why they work so well.
“I became a Team Rider for The OTC due to hard work and dedication. I was suffering from the sad loss of my father from a sudden accident and Tris effectively gave me a hand up. I was so low after this and it gave me the strength to keep going. So Tris, Thank you! You did not only save my windsurfing, but also me from a very dark place. I have been a Team Rider now for just over a year and have loved every second of it and I hope to continue for many years to come.
“I am currently a student studying A Levels. I try to get all of my work done, so any free time I have I can get out on the water as much as possible. I will often work through lunch breaks, so that if I don't have a lesson at the end of the day I can dash to the water to get the last bit of light. I windsurf because it sets me free from the stresses of life. It allows me to switch off and put things into perspective. When I’m stressed my mum and I have an on-going joke that I need some Vitamin Sea. (Ooooh that was cringy, sorry.)
"To be a rider for The OTC is honestly a dream come true. I had always looked up to the original Teams Riders and wished that one day I could be like them. I accredit the centre with a lot of who I am as a person today."
“When I windsurf I experience pure joy to be out on the open ocean. It gives me adrenaline, yet at the same time it keeps me grounded. The OTC has been so important for me as it has been like my sanctuary it has saved me in so many ways and allowed me to live my life to its fullest. I’d be lost without it. Windsurfing has taught me how to talk to people. Before I started I was very very shy, but now I am quite comfortably able to have many great conversations with people.
“I’ve met so many people from so many different places through windsurfing. Windsurfing has allowed me to see many parts of the world and therefore I have met so many amazing windsurfers from all over the world. The people who I sail with at The OTC are awesome and I can't ever really see those friendships changing.
“The best part of being on a board is the freedom it gives you to go anywhere and do anything. It makes you feel unstoppable. There are so many great parts of being a Team Rider, but for me I would say being able to help others down at the centre and hopefully inspire some of the younger guys coming through. Just don't let them get too good though!”