With our new series of interviews, called ‘The OTC Opens Doors’, we wanted to demonstrate to other young people the power of getting involved with the OTC as a youngster and the inspiring effect this can have on the path of their life.
Why does The OTC play a vital part in the pathway to success for so many of its youngsters past and present? The OTC has a proven recipe for success, channelling a young persons enthusiasm in the right direction and sowing the seed for a positive impact. The OTC pathway for Lieutenant Nick George (AAC) started for him in his twenties. He took this determination and passion further into his chosen career in the military. All of the windsurfers we have interviewed share something in common, a drive to succeed and a bright future.
The OTC springboard to success is something we are very proud of, a legacy that reflects the ethos we promote. The importance of grass roots windsurfing and the positive impact this has on the young people. We truly believe in the power of self-empowering young people to believe in their own ability.
When a youngster starts their windsurfing journey with us, their pathway can often lead to life changing opportunities. In our series of interviews ‘ The OTC Opens Doors’, we chat to a group of inspirational OTC alumni, who grabbed all the opportunities thrown at them with both hands and used this to determine their future. First in the hot seat, we speak to Army Officer, Nick George, now a pilot. Nick became part of the OTC family when he was younger and used everything he learnt to spread his wings and fly.
How did it all start for you?
“I had tried windsurfing sporadically when I was younger, mostly with family friends but I started windsurfing properly when I began working in Lesvos, Greece as a Mountain Bike Guide. I was surrounded by kit that was rigged ready to go and the conditions were lovely off-shore winds with flat water and plenty of safety boats to pull me back upwind. It gave me the opportunity for hours of time on the water every day and this really pushed my progression.”
What motivated you to try windsurfing?
“It was mostly time – I could only guide in the cooler parts of the day. Fortunately the offshore winds in Lesvos tended to kick in towards midday at exactly the time I wasn’t required to be working. It was just the natural thing to do in such an amazing sailing location.”
What do you get out of being on the water?
“I guess the answer is headspace. When I am on the water all I focus on is how to improve that next run, or what skill I can practice next. It really distracts from the daily stresses! This is even better when you can windsurf with a group and work on the same skill together. Suddenly all you are worrying about is what the conditions are doing.”
What pathway did you take in windsurfing?
“I used my time with Neilson Active Holidays to roughly progress through the RYA Scheme, seeking advice from the myriad of instructors out there. This eventually led to a season in Vassiliki where windsurfing is at the heart of the community. What followed was a season of endless crashing, progressing and crashing again. I returned home and sought to get involved with the OTC. I was lucky that they needed a photographer for the Windsurf Magazine test articles and I had a minimal amount of experience with this. Tris was fantastic; he took me under his wing and qualified me to teach at the centre – a natural progression from my mountain bike instructing background. I spent a very happy 18 months at the centre and Tris really supported me throughout my application to join the Military.”
"I used my experiences at the OTC in every stage of my application process for the military, using my employment as evidence of my experience in leadership, coaching and developing people."
What support have you had over the years, to allow you to take part in windsurfing?
“I made some great friends working abroad, who willingly gave up their time to help me progress. I was also lucky to have some family friends back home who were very keen windsurfers, they were thrilled that I was hooked on it and did everything possible to get me out on the water. When I moved back permanently the OTC were fantastic at welcoming me in to their family, offering me the use of their kit, qualifying me and eventually employing me.”
What type of windsurfing do you take part in?
“I guess you could define it as freeriding. I ride freestyle kit and attempt a lot but rarely pull it off. My real passion is in teaching others to windsurf. It’s been immensely satisfying to get back down to the OTC and see some of the young sailors who I had a hand in teaching performing so well. Most of them are far better than I am now!”
What equipment do you use?
“I’ve got a Tabou Twister 100L and a quiver of GA Manics. The board is fast for a freestyle board and has an insane amount of pop!”
What is the best part of windsurfing for you?
“That you learn something new every time you sail. Whether that is because the conditions are different or because you’ve finally cracked that new skill. It is never ending and as such is never boring!”
What inspires you?
“Seeing the younger sailors progressing so quickly really inspired me to push my sailing to try and keep up. I rarely can! It always blows my mind how quickly they can pick up new skills and how quickly their confidence grows. I try to remember this and take a little of this attitude out with me when I go windsurfing.”
Has windsurfing helped in other areas of your life?
“Windsurfing requires a certain amount of focus. This means that it is both all-encompassing when you are out on the water and gives you a break from everything else. This means you can come back off the water ready to fight that next fire!
Alongside this, the theory of how a sail works is identical to how an aircraft flies and so I definitely had a head start on this when it came to learning to fly for the Army.”
Have you used windsurfing in your career path?
“Teaching windsurfing gave me plenty of opportunities to work with people from different backgrounds, with differing abilities and capability. It also requires a constant adaption of persons’ leadership style and presentation style. All of these are transferable to the role of a Military Officer so I would say I definitely use the skills I have picked up through windsurfing in my career so far. Away from the professional side, Windsurfing is still a competitive sport in the Armed Forces, with a sailing centre based at Thorney Island and multiple training camps, overseas trips and competitions taking place annually. Due to work commitments I have not managed to make them, but I know several people who have grown up around Weymouth who are now competing in the Armed Forces fleet, which is great to see! I fully intend to.”
Have you met friends through windsurfing?
“Working in Greece it was impossible not to make friends through windsurfing. Anyone who has lived in that environment will understand how over-arching windsurfing, and talking about windsurfing, becomes. There is nothing better than sailing with multiple people at a similar level, pushing each other to try that next move, and of course sharing a beer afterwards to continue talking about it!”
What are you passionate about the most?
“Progression – I think that word sums up my thoughts well. When I was teaching I was passionate about the progression of my students. I have always been passionate about my own progression, spending hour after hour trying to nail that next move. Now I am passionate about progressing with my flying ability – remarkably my approach to learning is proving extremely helpful.”
Describe the feeling you get when you are out on the water?
“Freedom and excitement - There’s nothing quite like speeding along at the same speed as the cars in Portland Harbour.”
Why would you recommend The OTC to other young people who are thinking to give windsurfing a go?
“The best thing about the OTC is that it is a community. I have witnessed Tris and the team support countless young people and help push them to achieve their goals. Be that in the world of windsurfing or in other careers. Portland Harbour is one of the best locations in the world to learn to windsurf and the kit and instruction at the OTC really is second to none.”
How did you use the opportunities The OTC gave you in a positive way?
“It was extremely confidence inspiring to have Tris and the team put their faith in me with really very little evidence to back it up. To support me in achieving my instructor qualifications and publish some of my photography is something I am extremely thankful for. I used my experiences at the OTC in every stage of my application process for the military, using my employment as evidence of my experience in leadership, coaching and developing people.”
How important was The OTC’s involvement in your windsurfing?
“Working at the OTC exposed me to some of the best tuition in the business – I truly believe that! This meant that my self-taught, slightly sketchy style of sailing was quickly corrected! In truth, it has been fundamental in making sure that I continue in the sport, no matter where I move in the country with work. Without them, the sport would have been very difficult for me to access, and for this I am so grateful!”
To find out more how your youngster can get involved in our grassroots windsurfing, please contact the centre on (01305) 230296 or email firstname.lastname@example.org