Meet the Team: Luke Williams
Luke is one of the calmest, centered people you will meet, kind, patient and attentive. Luke is all about the holistic approach to life with a passion about helping others to learn, develop, and enjoy their time on the water. He holds a flotilla of RYA qualifications including; Advanced Windsurf Instructor, Wing Foil Instructor, Yacht Master Coastal, Senior Dinghy Instructor, Powerboat Instructor and Paddle Sport Leader. A self-confessed adrenalin junkie, when Luke is not on the water, you'll find him on the slopes, pounding the pavement, climbing mountains, marshal arts or mastering the downward dog! Luke joined Team OTC last year and we are all so grateful he has anchored with us! Welcome to the team Luke!
By Emma Nicholson.
I started off asking Luke when did he start working at The OTC and what is his background? Luke said: "I started working at The OTC in June 2022. I grew up dinghy racing (and messing around a lot!) at Pevensey Bay Sailing Club. I then got into windsurfing at a centre in Eastbourne called ‘Spray’ - now called BuzzActive. These are the people that sparked my interest in watersports, and I am forever grateful to them!
"The guys at ‘Spray’ were very good to me (Richard Wilson, Oliver Richardson, Craig Coupe, and many more). They lent me equipment for Zone Squad Racing, put me through various instructor courses, and just helped me get out on the water! From age 13 I volunteered there, and the moment I turned 16, I started working there as an instructor. I went on to work many seasons in various interesting places including Spain (Tarifa), Greece(Vassiliki), France, and Canada.
"At University I studied Sport and Exercise Psychology. This really improved my awareness of how people learn, as well as giving me a tool box of different teaching methods. I would then spend the summer teaching lesson after lesson, trying out different session ideas, and putting theory into practice!
"So to sum that up, I’ve spent a lot of time on (and in!) the water developing my instructing skills, and I am passionate about helping others to learn, develop, and enjoy their time on the water."
"I think encountering wildlife is always a pretty special and memorable moment."
What is your job role at The OTC? Why did you decide to come and work at The OTC?
Luke said: "I am a Senior Instructor at the OTC, which gives me more responsibility for managing sessions and safety on the water. Every session is thought through and discussed as a team with safety backups in mind. This way we can maintain our relaxed ‘surfer vibes’ if things get busy or there is a sudden change in the weather! We have a strong team of instructors with plan a, b, and c in their back pocket. Most of the time I am getting stuck in with instructing – I like to be on the water!
"I came to work at The OTC because it is at the centre of windsurfing in the UK. There is equipment testing, wing foil clinics, e-foils, and instructor training. The OTC is quite literally ‘ahead of the curve’ and I enjoy being a part of a forward-thinking team."
What do you like the most about working at The OTC? Luke said: "The team and the toys...
"The team is great because when it comes to work everyone is professional and good at what they do, but we also know how to joke around and enjoy a day working by the sea! There is a lovely community of people around, you are always seeing the same faces popping down for a chat about the wind!
"In terms of toys, I get to play with all the latest and greatest kit! It’s like working in a candy shop! I’ve really enjoyed getting involved with equipment testing. It definitely feels like a dream when an afternoon at work involves testing out four different 85 litre wave boards!"
"Watersports can shift people into a more mindful and present state of mind."
What is one of your best memories, professionally or water sports related?
Luke said: "Wow! Too many to choose from! I think encountering wildlife is always a pretty special and memorable moment, and I’ve been pretty lucky. Firstly, I’ve had a pod of Orcas swim past me when sailing in Canada. Secondly, I’ve had flying fish racing next to me while windsurfing in Spain. And last but not least, the dolphins here! They just make everyone smile and it never gets old!"
What watersports do you like doing in your spare time? Luke said: "I enjoy a little bit of everything... windsurfing, wing foiling, yachting, e-foiling, surfing, wake boarding/foiling. Windsurfing on a wave day has to be the favourite though!"
"I am always hungry to learn more!"
What do you think the benefits are to people’s mental health by taking part in watersports? Luke said: "The benefits are huge. I’ve heard countless things from people about how mentally refreshed they feel after a session on the water. I think that with the right level of challenge, watersports can shift people into a more mindful and present state of mind. It requires 100% of your focus to balance in the waves whilst controlling the wind. All of your headspace is occupied with the task at hand. There is no time to worry or dwell on negative thoughts. If you get distracted, YOU’RE GOING IN!!! You have to be in the moment, and this is healthy for the mind!
"On top of that; there is the social connection, you’re welcomed into a friendly community, people will encourage you, you’re in and out the water, breathing in fresh air, and getting exercise. The list goes on…"
"The OTC is at the centre of UK windsurfing and always ‘ahead of the curve’."
How do you find the time to take part in exercise, be that watersports or on land whilst working? Luke said: "If it is windy, I will go windsurfing/winging before or after work. If it is not windy, I’ll do other activities such as running, climbing, or jiu jitsu. I enjoy a very active lifestyle, and I look after my body. I want to be riding waves when I am an old salty sea dog! So you might catch me doing the odd yoga stretch at work!"
"I am very happy to be part of an experienced team who all work well together."
What is your favourite spot to windsurf or wing? Luke said: "The OTC of course! Can’t beat a sunset wing foil! Aside from that, I managed to drive up to Scotland for the Tiree Wave Classic in October, and I came away feeling absolutely stoked for wave sailing! It’s a little island in the Hebrides, and it feels pretty wild out there! There were literally a selection of beaches to choose from. Definitely worth checking out the event. I also love the vibe in Tarifa, Spain."
Do you prefer winging to windsurfing? Luke said: "I am pretty sold on wing foiling at the moment... A little after work sunset with an 11-16 knot moderate breeze, grab a foil, pump up in a second, and go float around for an hour? No brainer! Once you get past the crashing phase, it is such a nice, relaxing, smooth feeling. I’m hooked. However, nothing will ever beat a 35 knot windsurf wave day! Windsurfing is always going to be my first love!"
What is your biggest achievement either professionally or personally? Luke said: "Difficult question! In terms of recent achievements… In October, I placed 5th Amateur at the Tiree Wave Classic. I was really pleased with this considering I had never competed in waves before! Then in November, I qualified as a Yacht Master Coastal, which tested my sailing knowledge and leadership skills. I’ve spent many years developing my knowledge in the watersports industry, I enjoy the process and I am really proud of how far I have come. But, of course, I am always hungry to learn more!"
"At work everyone in the team inspires me in different ways, they’ve genuinely all got something that they are really good at!"
Why do you think The OTC is so successful, as a brand and a place of business? Luke said: "The OTC is at the centre of UK windsurfing and always ‘ahead of the curve’. It feels like a very forward-thinking business with unique developments. There is equipment testing, wing foil clinics, e-foils, and instructor training. I am very happy to be part of an experienced team who all work well together, and I look forward to seeing how things develop!"
"Just focus on being the best you can be at whatever you choose to do."
What is a typical day at work for you? Luke said: "In the simplest terms... Open up. Check the forecast again! Check the calendar. Check in with everyone. Session Brief. Get kit ready. Get on the water! Session De-brief. Chat to nice people. Pack up. After work instructor playtime! Head home!"
Who inspires you? Luke said: "At work everyone in the team inspires me in different ways, they’ve genuinely all got something that they are really good at! On the water, there is a lot of talent around, you’ve got the Olympic team training on your door step. But I think I am most inspired by a few of the young rippers who always seem to be out first and in last, even when it looks pretty miserable!"
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt throughout your career, so far? Luke said: 'Don’t be a donkey – make a decision and enjoy the ride it takes you on. Just focus on being the best you can be at whatever you choose to do, and the rest will work itself out."
"We all have the same healthy obsession with watersports."
Why is The OTC such a great place for people to learn? Luke said: "It is the perfect location for learning. No matter what the wind direction, the water state is always pretty flat. This allows you to practice and develop at an achievable pace – without being knocked off by a wave every other second! It is also great for learning beach/water starts, as there is a nice waist deep sandy spot on the left side at low water."
"Learn. Inspire. Teach. Enjoy the Ride!"
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a watersports instructor?
Luke said: "Do it! Give us a call or come down to the centre and have a chat with us. We will be able to answer any of your questions and get you booked onto an instructor course."
What does it mean becoming part of the OTC Team? Luke said: "It’s great. It feels like I’ve joined a team of very like-mindedpeople. We all have the same healthy obsession with watersports, and it seems to keep everyone smiling!"
"When you are immersed in learning something, you forget about all your worries, you’re just in the moment."
What is your biggest motivator? Luke said: "In terms of work, I am passionate about the development of people. I’ve taught some people through from being beginners, to advanced, to becoming instructors. It is really motivating, when you see someone overcome a challenge and have a ‘break through’ moment. I love it, they get so excited and fired up to do more, and that fires me up.
"In my eyes, the more I learn, the more I can teach. I practice the sports that I enjoy and it feeds into my teaching knowledge. When you are immersed in learning something, you forget about all your worries, you’re just in the moment focused on what you are doing. You’re moving forward, dealing with challenges, and eventually it all comes together."
The future what does that hold for you? Luke said: "I would like to become an instructor trainer. I have spent over 10 years practicing and developing my knowledge of instructing in a range of environments, with a variety of people. I have a degree in sports psychology, a good awareness of how people learn, anda tool box of different session ideas. This is definitely a pathway that I want to pursue, and I am confident that I would thrive in this role.
"On a personal level, I would like to compete in some more windsurf wave events, and maybe even have a crack at wing foil racing. So, plenty to focus on! Learn. Inspire. Teach. Enjoy the Ride!"