With age comes wisdom, respect and experience. For OTC team rider, Simon Pettifer aged 44, it was love at first sight when he discovered windsurfing aged 10 in Cyprus. Young windsurfers look up to our more experienced team riders and the vital knowledge they pass on inspires the next generation.
Simon said: “I started windsurfing in Cyprus when my family moved there. There was a club on the beach I gave it a go and fell in love instantly. School finished at 1.00pm and I was at the windsurfing club by 1.15pm every day.
“The things I enjoy most about windsurfing are getting out on the water, away from everything. The feeling I get, the adrenalin from slalom sailing: it's a real buzz.
“Going to Weymouth, down to The OTC has been a major part of my windsurfing life for the last few years. The atmosphere down there is awesome all year-round; it's a hive of activity."
“I also love the scene, the people and the friends I've met and I'm still meeting now, you can’t beat it. I've been a team rider for The OTC for about two years now, but before that I was an undercover team rider for about six years.
“I became a team rider, because I spent so much time at The OTC, Tris in the end, felt sorry for me and invited me to join the team! Tris has helped me out a lot, with sponsorship and makes my slalom racing all possible; without him it just wouldn't happen. He knows his stuff too, so he’s always good to get advice from about all sorts of stuff.
“Being part of The OTC team is amazing. We have some of the best slalom/speed sailors in the country - three of the top five in slalom - Kev Greenslade, Scotty Stallman, Sam Anstey, James Faley and Tyler Baker mixing the old and the new together, we have a great time sailing and training together.
“Going to Weymouth, down to The OTC has been a major part of my windsurfing life for the last few years. The atmosphere down there is awesome all year-round; it's a hive of activity.
“Being a team rider involves being there when Tris requires some help; when I'm down there training I always try to be helpful - it gets busy at The OTC. I also help out at training camps and generally spreading the OTC love.
“The type of gear I ride is slalom race gear, Fanatic boards and Duotone sails. My inspirations in the windsurfing world? So many! Of course Bjorn Dunkerbeck when I was younger; then there's Antoine Albeau, but closer to home, Ross Williams is fairly inspiring I guess! It's good to be able to watch the PWA slalom and see one of our own kicking arse. On top of that he's super good at any (and every) type of windsurfing, but please don't tell him I said that, for god's sake!
“My favourite type of sailing is slalom sailing, as that's what I'm best at. I like to try my hand at a bit of speed sailing too and I'm even getting some wave gear this winter; it's been a while but I love wave sailing too.
“My favourite place to sail? Well that's easy: Weybitha! The OTC in the summer, 20 - 25 knots, 7.7m weather with the team, champagne windsurfing all day long. Having said that, Mauritius is also a stunning place to windsurf - hmmm it's a tough choice!
“I do take part in racing, I compete on the British Slalom Tour (UKWA), I've been doing it for maybe nine years and I'm still improving, so I'll be doing it for a few years yet. I won't be happy till I've finished a season on the podium. I'm always 4th or 5th it seems! Also there is Weymouth Speed Week: a must in the yearly calendar, a lot of fun but super tiring.
“To anyone thinking of trying windsurfing or wanting to improve their windsurfing I would say, get yourself down to The OTC. They really know what they're doing down there. Joe, Maurin, Bryony, Dan and all the others make it happen for so many people it's fantastic, and they love passing on their knowledge. The speed they get people up and sailing is incredible and they're keen to help and advise all levels and abilities too.
“I do have a regular job, which I fit around windsurfing. I'm a carpenter. So if the wind really blows I sometimes get to sack off work and go for a sail; but on the whole, it's after work in the summer, and weekends in the dark months of the winter.
“Through windsurfing I have met many awesome people and it's still happening now. New friends are made every year, and my best friends have been made through windsurfing; you know who you are!
“Memorable moments down The OTC? There are just too many! Along with many other sailors, helping Scotty Stallman and Sam Anstey turn into awesome windsurfers, then taking them to the Mauritius Attitude Challenge this year. So many sunset sessions with Kev Greenslade and Scooter and Andy Stallman (the boss photographer!). Speed sailing on the OTC tandem boards, again with Kev and Scott. Sailing from Portland to Lulworth Cove with Tris, Kev, Ross and Joe and many many more.
“I’m looking forward to making loads more memories down at The OTC. I really can't thank Tris and the crew enough, they make windsurfing in Dorset totally awesome.”