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  • Writer's pictureTeam OTC

Getting your kids on the water, it is child's play!

With all the teams expertise at The Official Test Centre and our store Surf Doctor, we are really well placed to give you the best advice on how to get your youngsters involved in watersports, whether windsurfing, paddle boarding or winging. Our team of experts can help guide you in choosing suitable equipment and the right clothing. The OTC and our qualified Instructors, has first hand experience of actively encouraging the younger generation to love being on or in the water, planting that seed that grows as they grow and forming a life-long love of watersports. A healthy way of life away from screens and developing skills of confidence and resilience that are all transferrable to the school environment helping them grow into well-rounded children and eventually on into adulthood. In this blog we look at how to safely get your groms ready for their watersports adventure. Getting your kids on the water, it is child's play!

By Emma Nicholson.

A member of The OTC Team15 club
OTC Team15 Windsurfing Club

Here at The OTC there is so much opportunity for your youngster from our Team15 club nights, Team15 is a nationwide network of windsurfing clubs where young people aged 16 and under can get together to learn new windsurfing skills. You can start off with a windsurfing taster or you can book some private tuition, we also provide RYA Windsurfing Courses, there is a whole world waiting for your kids to discover and who knows what doors will open when they jump on board!

children watching an OTC Instructor teach them how to windsurf
Youngsters learning to windsurf at The OTC

An important part of enjoyment is ensuring children are kitted up right. When taking a course with The OTC, we provide all the equipment your child will need, including wetsuits and buoyancy aids. Once bitten by the bug, it might be time to buy their own wetsuit and the team at Surf Doctor are here to help with dedicated children's wetsuits, boots, rash vests and more - We have all the kit for sale including everything from specific junior wetsuits to junior Dryrobe's and everything in-between from our dedicated surf store Surf Doctor.

kid windsurfing in an ION CAPTURE SEMIDRY 3/2 FZ DL '21
Kids wetsuit from SurfDoctor the ION CAPTURE SEMIDRY 3/2 FZ DL '21

What about giving stand up paddling a go? Once your child's age is around 5-6 years old, they should have the motor skills to paddle their own paddle board. Once your child is in their preteens, they can become quite proficient at paddling. The trick at that age is to make sure that they have friends that want to try paddle boarding with them. There are so many wonderful benefits for kids who stand up paddleboard. Besides it being a great physical activity that is fun it also gets them outdoors and disconnected from mobile phones or computers, it encourages independence and problem solving as they learn how to proficiently use the board and paddle. At Surf Doctor we sell a specific kids paddle board, click on the link.

A child on a HONU paddle board

We speak to The Official Test Centre, Centre Manager, Bryony Webb all about the opportunities for your youngsters and what sort of kit she recommends, she said: "Our Team15 youngsters if they are in our beginner group or our younger participants they tend to start off on our JP Funsters which are around 180 litres, super wide and stable boards, really user friendly. That will get them through their first experience of windsurfing and maybe a handful of hours after that.

OTC Centre Manager Bryony with her dog
OTC Centre Manager Bryony Webb

"We then look to progress the youngsters onto the Sealion boards, a crossover of windsurfers and SUP boards, great for kids, super user friendly and quite playful as well, so that combined with a soft sail or a fully batten rig, designed for the youngsters, super light, slightly lower boom cut out. it means they are slightly lighter or shorter, participants can still get out on the water in stronger wind conditions, we have batten rigs all the way up to 8 metres. We have the youngsters covered all the way up to when they are in the footstraps and fully planing.

"In terms of clothing for the youngsters, if we are looking at the autumnal months we are about to come into, youngsters tend to start changing over to winter wetsuits offering extra warmth on colder days. The OTC has a range of wetsuit people can borrow when they are doing a session. As the weather gets chillier, layering up is also a good idea, beating off the wind chill with a wetsuit jumper or a base layer or thermo top.

"As young as six we take them at the centre, we have had a young lady was slightly younger who did some private tuition with one of our instructors Joe North, over summer 2023 and summer 2022 (pictured below). I think she was four when she started, she has now completed her stage 3 and stage 4 and I think she's 7 now, so she's smashing it! about as young as six we can teach here at the centre.

Joe North teaching a young girl to windsurf
OTC Senior Instructor Joe North and a rising star!

Bryony added: "Kids will always be in buoyancy aids until they are wearing harnessing with us, then it is down to the child/parents discretion as to if they want their child to wear a buoyancy aid, as well as a harness, we leave that to parents.

"It is all about layering, with boots, gloves - mittens are essential, something like a palm less mitt, these are essential for youngsters over the winter months to keep the extremities warm and combine that with a hood or a beanie keep the heat in from top half, you should be pretty much there. Dryrobe's depending how lucky you are, neoprene jackets, wear these as outer layers.

"If you are looking to windsurf through the winter you are looking for 4-5mm of neoprene on your top half, whether that's two garments that are slightly thinner or one thick wetsuit.

"I think for us as a centre we have the learning, the fun factor, and the safety factor covered for your children to be able to come down and progress with us. A key factor is them having those warmer layers over the winter months, it will be a game changer, it will stop your child from either not being able to finish a session or even want to get out of the car. We are really good at adapting sessions here as the centre to sharp punchy sessions in the winter months, just trying to get one or two things done in the session, we may come in and do short warm ups to keep the kids moving.

"Being on the water gives kids a sense of freedom, whether that's windsurfing or stand up paddling, if you are on your own or with a group of like-minded people, escape. We see the children grow with confidence and resilience, learning to problem solve and being a team player, I think if someone can break a fear factor of windsurfing or water or learning a new skill and then being able to put that into everyday life, start a conversation with someone or apply for a job it all adds to self-growth."

OTC Team Rider, Scott Norman windsurfing at a competition
OTC Team Rider, Scott Norman

Now lets hear from a parent of a young talented windsurfer, who has supported his son to sail his way up the ranks John Norman, dad of Scott Norman (pictured above), aged 16, who is an OTC Team Rider, said: "Young people these days have so many opportunities to not only experience incredible sports like windsurfing, but if they make the most of facilities like The OTC they can go as far as they want. Having the right equipment means they can go out and enjoy themselves and progress quickly. Additionally as we head into the colder months a decent wetsuit is fundamental to not only safety but enjoyment. "It’s really important that Scott has positive experiences when he is being active so they associate positively with physical activity and want to make it a part of their lives. By ensuring he had a good quality wetsuit meant being cold and uncomfortable wasn’t an issue. This in turn meant he could concentrate on having more fun!"

Want to find out more about Team15? A taster for your youngster? Private tuition for your off-spring or kit specially tailored for all your aspiring windsurfers, call The OTC centre, 07817 717904 or speak to the team at Surf Doctor, 07944 254561 and we will help your kids sail to new horizons, confidently, warmly and safely!


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