Meet The Team: Dan Hallam
Meet the team behind the OTC - the talented group of individuals that keep the brand afloat with energy, enthusiasm and passion. You will always get a warm welcome at the OTC, where the atmosphere is all about progression for watersport enthusiasts, from beginners to those more advanced. The team are always happy to help and will give advice on anything from how to rig a sail through to which gear would suit you best.
Dan Hallam is the OTC’s very own jack-of-all-trades. Whilst not teaching windsurfing, kitesurfing or wing-foiling, he'll be helping to run the centre, assisting customers in the shop, capturing footage with his drone, gimballed camera or GoPro, or editing his latest piece for the OTC Blog. His wealth of watersports experience, interest in tech (read gadgets!) and candid outlook means he's perfectly placed to push the useful content the company produces through its various platforms.
Dan started working at The OTC as a freelance instructor and used to be the Assistant Manager at the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre, also based within the National Sailing Academy. Dan said: “The OTC is somewhere I’ve known about for a long time, as I used to do road trips to Portland Harbour with friends to come and do some freestyle sailing."
“I have always been a bit of a ‘jack-of-all-trades’. If I went to the beach I would choose the sport that suited the conditions."
Originally from Essex, Dan has moved around England's south coast and abroad, working for many different watersports centres. Dan said: “I learnt to sail boats a long time ago and the work experience at school I did was at a small sailing centre on the River Thames. That’s when I realised I could make this a job. I then went to the United Kingdom Sailing Academy (UKSA) on the Isle of Wight to do their career course and become a qualified sailing and windsurfing instructor at the age of 16."
“Lots of things motivate me, but probably the enjoyment of things keeps me motivated more than anything else. I would rather be doing something that puts a smile on my face or makes me laugh than anything else.
“I was never that great at school. Easily distracted and being dyslexic, I never found the work straight forward. The watersports industry gave me somewhere my energy could be used and my brain somewhere I could learn at my own pace."
“I am always looking for an adventure, whether that is a mini-trip to the beach, mountain, hill or wherever; just to go with family and friends - the people and places keep me inspired to want to do the sports I enjoy more.
“Teaching the sports I enjoy keeps me on the water and keeps me fit and active. There wasn't a time in my life I wanted an indoor job and getting people out on the water and enjoying the outdoors is great, especially when you see them come back for more and start becoming active watersport enthusiasts.
“I’ve been teaching watersports for around 20 years and have taught a whole host of outdoor sports, including sailing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, kitesurfing, powerboating, outrigger canoeing, climbing, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and a few other things. I started out as a sailing and windsurfing instructor and through a course at UKSA and then each year tried to push myself towards a new qualification.
“In terms of qualifications you need to start out at OTC, the RYA Start Instructor is a good place to start! But if you are motivated and enjoy windsurfing and paddleboarding then coming down and getting some experience teaching and becoming an assistant instructor will get you in the door and start moving you in the right direction for a career in watersports.
“Having worked in lots of different centres and places, time on the water is always a perk of the job, but at the OTC the kit makes it even better. Getting to use the latest kit in all the watersports helps keep me wanting to go out."
“I have always been a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’. If I went to the beach I would choose the sport that suited the conditions. I don’t really have any preferred gear; whatever works on the day ... but I would usually steer myself away from any of the big kit and racing side of things if I had the choice.
“What I enjoy most about my job is being on the water. It doesn’t matter whether I am teaching or playing - being on the water is somewhere I enjoy being. It's somewhere I can relax and also somewhere I can push myself. It's also somewhere I will go to get my mind right. It’s a great leveller – it doesn’t matter who you are (old, young, rich, poor) you can just turn up and be great. You need to put the time in and take the same steps as everyone else to get better. It also doesn’t matter what level you are, as you will be enjoying the same thing as the person next you, and that will give you something in common.
“Some of the kit testing trips have been super memorable. Driving to the depths of Cornwall or up to North Wales with the newest windsurf kit and then getting paid to try them out - definitely not a bad part of the job. The trip with Joe and Tris to Daymer Bay was one to remember. Big waves and loads of wind meant giving feedback on the boards was a bit of a challenge, as half the time I was concentrating hard on just making out back!
“This is where my jack-of-all-trades comes in again. What I like about the job is that there is no typical day for me. Sometimes I will be on the water teaching and sometimes behind the scenes helping with the website or marketing for the centre.
“I think the experience of doing bits and pieces of everything is probably my biggest asset. Being able to teach all the sports on the water on any day, then to switch into more behind the scenes work."
“The location of the OTC itself makes it a great place to work. It’s somewhere people travel to from across the country to go on the water, so being able to finish work and step onto the water is pretty epic. The people also make it; having a group of like-minded people around you makes you enjoy the place even more.
What does the future hold for Dan? He said: “Who knows! I’ve always said I will get a proper job one day! But who knows what that will look like! What gives me the biggest buzz at work? A windy day when we are all out on the water with a big group. As a boss, what Tris doesn’t know about windsurf kit isn’t worth knowing.”