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 The Official Test Centre is a watersports school, retailer and test centre located right on the water’s edge, within the grounds of the National Sailing Academy on Portland, Dorset.

 

Due to our location, we are in the perfect place to get out on the latest kit and give it a go. On this blog we share our thoughts with you. And having tested for magazines for over two decades, we love to put the kit through its paces. 

  • Team OTC

Meet The Team: Maurin Rottenwalter

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.


Maurin Rottenwalter, our hugely experienced Operations Manager, is a fountain of knowledge. Maurin has been Tris’ right hand man for eight years. He has a wealth of watersports knowledge hidden under his harness; having worked at numerous European centres, he always knew from an early age that windsurfing was his destiny. He still has a huge passion for teaching and watching others unlock their potential.

Maurin moved to the UK with his wife in 2012, initially working for Boylo’s in Lyme Regis. Maurin had an epiphany when he went to Italy for a holiday and went windsurfing again; he had given up on his hopes of working in the watersports industry in the UK, and had resigned himself to the fact he may never work in the industry again.


However, that trip to Italy changed Maurin's path. He recalls, “When I came back from Italy I knew I really wanted to teach windsurfing again. So I gave Tris a call - I think he was in a boat taking a lesson at the time - and he said to come down to see how we got on. I came down to the OTC the next day, met Tris properly and got stuck in. The job was only part-time, but two weeks later, after I had worked everyday non-stop, Tris asked whether I would you like a day off?! It all started from there; we got on really well and our working relationship just flourished from that moment.


“I am from Germany originally. I have worked in Italy for six seasons, all watersports based. I worked in Lake Garda for two seasons, Sardinia for one season. Then I ran a centre for someone in Tuscany for two years and I went to Formentera for one summer. I then moved to Gran Canaria for three years, before changing to Fuerteventura for another three years, always in the watersports industry. And then I moved to England!


“I have always been a water rat! But I didn’t actually know windsurfing existed when I was younger. Originally I wanted to dive, but everybody told me it was too dangerous. I really wanted to do something and I stumbled across a windsurfing taster course in Italy. I was 12 years old. I did it, loved the sport and have been hooked ever since.

“I am just really passionate about teaching people, guiding them along and seeing their potential. And in a way finding out what makes them tick. Crack through the layers and they suddenly see how they can progress. I enjoy making the whole process as smooth as possible for them. Without throwing them in the deep end or scaring them off. We have a lot of customers who are either really scared of the water or not confident.


"Even if someone has been windsurfing for a long time you can give them those little tips and suddenly they go, "Here we go!" And they finally understand what they are doing. The team is lovely at the OTC; working with Tris it has always been a pleasure ... and with Joe, Bryony and Dan and all the rest of the team in the summer – it is always a really good vibe.


“In the past when I was working seasons abroad you obviously have a lot of holiday-makers who come for one or two weeks. You might give them an initial love for the sport, but then you never see them again. But working at the OTC, it is amazing to see some of the kids progress from their first year when they're on tiny little 1.5m sails. Today, some of them go out consistently on much bigger sails than I would even want to use! They are going into competitions and thriving on that, or they have become instructors as well, either working with us or at other places. Seeing their development and how they have grown through windsurfing is really rewarding - in a way, it's tangible how grounded it's kept them, and helped to influence the nice young adults they have become.


"Some kids that may be struggling have taken great motivation from windsurfing and it has really helped them develop in other parts of their life - that really inspires me, because that’s what windsurfing did for me. Seeing that happen with others is really fantastic."

“I still get the same buzz out of teaching, even now with the foiling or even a taster course. It is great seeing the clients coming off the water, buzzing after a really good session. I have been very lucky to grow my role within the OTC; now I am guiding some of the younger team. Helping some of the ones who haven’t run a centre yet give them the little tips. I have never been someone who says "that is my knowledge" and keep it to myself. I have always said if they want to use my ideas, they are more than welcome. For example, you can make one change and that makes you a better instructor.

“Because I come from the Germany I had to convert all my German instructor qualifications into the RYA version, which Tris helped me with. I have gone through all the ranks from windsurf instructor, intermediate, planing, advanced, windfoiling, and now I am hoping to go into the trainer stage, which is my next goal. Everybody always used to nag me when I was younger about what I was going to do when I was grown up. To be fair, I didn’t know what I wanted to do! I knew I didn’t want to take over my parents' business: flowers wasn’t really my thing! I didn’t want to study and be in an office, but I knew I really liked windsurfing. I remember being in a café with my mum and my Nan, and I turned around to say, "I am going to become a windsurf instructor!" I was 14 or 15 and I have not diverted since; it didn’t win me any popularity competitions!

“Windsurfing is my favourite watersport, and two years ago I would have said wave sailing was 100% the best discipline. But it changes year to year. Recently I'm more into foiling, just because it is easy and accessible and you don’t have to be on the water very long to have a good session. The conditions are always nearly right and with my own young family now, I don’t fancy going windsurfing for ages and waiting around for the tide to be right! So foiling has definitely become number one.


“My best memories of working at the OTC? There’s so many, almost too many to mention. The times that stand out for me are running big groups. I remember right at the beginning there was just Tris and me. I think it was the first or second day we worked together and it was really windy; we had huge groups and to be fair we just smashed it, and that’s when we realised we worked really well together. So I am sure that was one of the reasons why it worked so well, moving forward. Since then there have been so many memories from teaching, running the centre on busy days; courses with clients, going testing ... these are all good memories.


“A typical day for me includes a bit of everything. Either way I go down the centre. I help out at the centre day to day, helping customers that want to buy stuff; helping to put packages together; helping to get gear ready for sessions or hires; going out teaching; helping out with foiling hire or tasters; maintaining the website; sorting out products; keeping new stock update; invoices and the more boring side of life on the computer. Boring ... but all very necessary!

“The biggest skills I bring to the team are my versatility and my drive to make the most of what we have, using all the resources and keep everything running in the best possible way.
“The best thing about working at the OTC, other than the team ... is the location! It is literally location, location, location! It is a fantastic place. We can run courses in pretty much any wind direction and tide state and at any time of the year. And with the best kit possible, you can't really ask for a better centre of gear.

“My short term goal is to become a RYA Windsurf Trainer and to train others to become windsurf instructors. The biggest buzz at work is seeing other windsurfers coming in smiling; or running a session and it goes super smoothly. Customers being happy on a nice warm sunny day; it doesn't get much better. Teaching is the part of my job I enjoy the most, especially one-to-one: a nice session and a really nice client ... it is very rewarding.


“Tris has a tireless work ethic. He is a fantastic instructor and since working with him we have always been bouncing ideas off each other. Seeing how he approaches a problem could well be very different to how I would, but he has inspired me to do things differently. He is a really kind boss and nice to work for.”

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