• Team OTC

Peter Hart: Rising To The Top!

A man that needs no introduction, windsurfing royalty, with an aura of greatness and impressive longevity, respected across all generations of windsurfers. A gentleman who is humble, approachable and kind. A legend that has experienced so much and has so much passion for his chosen calling. It was an absolute privilege and honour to interview the one and only 'Harty'. Get ready for a rollercoaster of emotions as Peter invites us into his life, giving us an insight into a sport that became a career. The treasured memories, his sparring partner Dave White and his impressive motivation.

When did you first try windsurfing?

"It was way back in 1977 when I was teaching English in France as part of my language degree. One of the gym teachers had one and lent it to me for the weekend."

What interested you about windsurfing, what was that first moment that you were hooked?

"I was (still am) a keen surfer, so windsurfing looked like an ideal bedfellow – especially since where I was living, good waves were hard to find - plus the fact, and this may sound weird, that it looked difficult! I’ve never been much of an instant gratification person. If it’s easy, what’s the point? That first weekend gave me the full gamut of human emotions. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. It was way too windy for a first time (the Mistral was blowing) - but having been totally beaten up and with my tolerance and energy running out, I finally made it go … and actually planed. And that was it - totally hooked!"

Can you talk me through your windsurfing journey, right from the beginning, right up to today?

"After that first experience I bought a board. Back at Southampton Uni for my final year, I started the windsurfing club. The following year I ended up in Switzerland as a ski instructor and in the summer got a job teaching windsurfing in the valley in Interlaken. It was hardly Maui, but the owner of the school was unbelievably progressive. He’d managed to get hold of some of the first footstrap boards. So when I returned to the UK I was well ahead of the game. After running a couple of schools, I started competing and by 1983 joined the fledgling pro-tour on the Mistral team. I had a suspicion that although competing could be rewarding, it was also pretty fragile and that to make a living, I’d have to be nimble and diversify. There were so many opportunities. The RYA took me on to develop the advanced teaching system, write the manuals, make instructional videos (a new thing in 1985) and train instructors. I began writing monthly features for the magazines (and still am) and even ended up co-presenting a windsurfing series for ITV. I also bought into a production company and as well as windsurfing, we made instructional videos in skiing, snowboarding , yachting and rowing. Life was totally full on, non stop! Since I gave up competing in 2000, I focused more and more on my international clinic tour – and of course, my family."

What is one of your best windsurfing memories?

"Wow! How long have you got?! I guess it’s always been meeting new people. I’ve made so many life long friends across the world. The sport seems to attract the best kind. It’s not a quick fix, so career windsurfers tend to be solid, resilient, laid back and funny – when you’re hauling yourself and heap of crumpled gear out of the shore break, it helps to have a sense of humour. I think some of my best times have been on the speed tour – the camaraderie was unmatched. Dave White and I were first, first and second in the first production board would champs. That party was a bit special! More recently – for about six years we home schooled our kids so they could join me on my clinic tour – having the whole family with me on some wild amazing places was about as good as it gets."

What is your biggest motivator?

"Well for the last 17 years, the need to put food on the table has been pretty motivating! But also since the age of zero, I've always done sport and just hate being sedentary. I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie and the thought of getting into the water and splashing about always thrills me – even in January!"

What is your favourite type of gear?

"It has to be wave kit. If I’m rigging my 4.7 Blade and 87L Severne Pryo, I know good times are ahead."


What do you think the benefits are to peoples mental health by windsurfing?

"It’s been said before, but windsurfing is so all consuming that there is no time to cogitate and mull over problems. Research is pretty clear that strenuous exercise is the best for getting rid of stress hormones – and windsurfing is exhausting! It also places you in some incredible surroundings."

"I have done a variety of sports from rugby to gymnastics, but there’s nothing like windsurfing for keeping you constantly thrilled (and frustrated!) - the challenge never stops."

What is your biggest achievement with your windsurfing?

"More so that the fleeting joy of winning an event, it’s managing to turn a passion into a career - and for it to remain a passion."

What is your favourite spot to windsurf?

"I love every place I go for different reasons. My favourite winter training ground for 20 years was Barbados – great conditions and a great vibe. You can’t beat a good day at home (Sussex coast) because you’re sailing and joshing with mates – and then ending up in the favourite local pub to review and rip the p*ss out of each other’s performance! But if I had to choose one spot, it’s probably Donegal in NW Ireland – beaches and conditions to die for!"

"The sport seems to attract the best kind. It’s not a quick fix, so career windsurfers tend to be solid, resilient, laid back and funny – when you’re hauling yourself and heap of crumpled gear out of the shore break, it helps to have a sense of humour."

When you teach people that come on your clinics what do they get out of being taught by you?

"I think you may have to ask them! But I’ve found at all levels from Olympian to first timer, that people improve the most when they’re having a good time. So a good time is what I hope they get out of it. On a coaching level I really focus on the individual Everyone learns in different ways, has different attitudes to risk and ambition – so I like to think everyone gets bespoke treatment. It’s very much a two way relationship – it’s not just about me spouting forth."

How long have you been running your clinics?

"I was asked to do a clinic in Barbados way back in 1985! And throughout my competing career I would stage race training courses and coaching days at clubs – but it was from the mid 90s that the clinic tour home and abroad really started to grow."

What do you personally get out of teaching people how to improve their windsurfing?

"I get a massive kick out of helping people reach their goals. On the outside it all looks a bit frivolous, but it can be life changing stuff. There was a guy who after a wave clinic in Ireland (where the swells that week were gigantic) told me that he’d never imagined in a million years that he’d end up tackling and enjoying enjoy such conditions – and that it had done wonders for his confidence, not just in windsurfing, but as a person."

Why do you windsurf?

"I have done a variety of sports from rugby to gymnastics, but there’s nothing like windsurfing for keeping you constantly thrilled (and frustrated!) - the challenge never stops."


When did you decide to run pro-clinics and why?

"It was something I was asked to do back in 80s – I’m not sure it was ever planned, it just grew and grew. For example, I was asked to run a training weekend in Donegal back in 1990 and have been back every year since."

"People ask me when I might retire – and I honestly have no idea how that could me more fulfilling that doing what I do!"

Who inspires you?

"Currently it’s my old friend and sparring partner Dave White. We competed together for years on the speed circuit. Dave had a stroke four years ago and his fight to regain fitness has been inspirational beyond words."

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt throughout your windsurfing career?

"To realise how bloody lucky I’ve been to find a career that is so endlessly fulfilling. If ever I’m getting a bit cold and hacked off in a northerly wind in the Atlantic in November, I give myself a stern talking to and count a few blessings."

What type of windsurfing/foiling or winging do you like to do in your spare time?

"I started foiling three years ago (at the OTC of course!) and found it a real breath of fresh air. My first set up was pretty racy, but now I prefer a more playful combo. It’s my 10-15 knots option. And I started winging this winter. I’ve got a long way to go but I love being a complete beginner/idiot again. It makes me very empathetic to the feelings and frustrations my charges are experiencing!"

"I think some of my best times have been on the speed tour – the camaraderie was unmatched."

Why is the OTC such a great place to teach windsurfing?

"Flat water, safe sailing area, great wind, beautiful back drop, easy access to the water, and a centre with more toys than Harrods and staff who are genuinely helpful, skilful and knowledgeable. Shall I go on?"


What can the OTC offer your groups that other places can’t?

"The total package."

The future what does that hold for you and your clinics and your windsurfing journey?

"Although I’m always on the look out for new clinic venues, I’m actually reluctant to change a winning formula. My current clinic tour seems to take to me to the right places at the right time of year. And the more I go to these places, the better it gets as we forge great relationships with local centres, hotels, restaurants etc. What Covid travel restrictions have taught me is that the UK can be as good as anywhere. If Tris and the staff don’t get bored of me, I’d like to do more and more courses out of the OTC. People ask me when I might retire – and I honestly have no idea how that could me more fulfilling that doing what I do!"




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