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The OTC Opens Doors: Harry Keenan

With our 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 Harry Keenan started for him when he was 13 years old. He took this determination and passion further into his chosen career in The Royal Navy. 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.

Today we speak to former OTC instructor Harry Keenan, now an Air Engineering Technician in The Royal Navy, he used everything he learnt as a youngster with The OTC to spread his wings and fly into a successful military career.

How did it all start for Harry? He said, “My parents took me to The OTC with my brother. Originally, I did not want to go, but once I was there and out on the water I loved it.

“Windsurfing always looked interesting, watching people race up and down the beach really close in, and the freestyle looked really insane. The thing I like about windsurfing is the sense of freedom, it is you, the water and the wind - it’s liberating, It lets me get away from day to day life, especially after a hard day at work, I was born to be on the water.

“I started off with free ride gear and learnt how to windsurf on that. Then just after my GCSE’s I went to The OTC and I said I would help out for free, after the first week Tris offered me a job. I did four years of instructing at The OTC, before I left to join the Royal Navy, I still help out every now and again. I started foiling just before I left The OTC and the sensation of it is unreal, flying through the air without a sound.

“Whilst working at The OTC I did not compete, but when I joined the Navy I started competing in the Inter-Services (Navy, Army, RAF) competition. I’ve been selected for the Navy team twice; I have also competed for the Navy at Weymouth Speed Week and the UKWA Slalom.

“Through working at The OTC I got to windsurf daily, every day is a learning day and I never stopped learning through teaching. Tris, Joe and Maurin have always supported and helped me. Out on the water having them chase you down to give you tips really helped.

“Working at The OTC has helped me develop personal and leadership skills, all of which help me in my current military profession, the theory of how a sail works is exactly the same as how aircraft fly."

“I prefer free ride windsurfing and foiling. I occasionally instruct and race, I am trying to learn a bit of freestyle. The freedom and the thrill of windsurfing is what I love, even in the dead of winter just being out on the water, when you fall in during the winter, it is cleansing.

“I love the freedom and the thrill of windsurfing, it is time to myself, something of a rarity nowadays. Flying or blasting around the water harnessing Mother Nature to go as fast as you can or just jumping, it’s freeing. Even in the crashes it teaches you and it’s an experience.

“I get inspiration from watching the people I teach progress and especially the youngsters, some who are now better than me!

“Working at The OTC has helped me develop personal skills and leadership skills, all of which help me in my current profession, the theory of how a sail works is exactly the same as how aircraft fly, Bernoulli's theorem to be exact.

“I have had time off work to teach windsurfing at The OTC, as part of Navy Squadron and Base Development Days. I have also had time off to go on an overseas development camp with the Navy - helping teach a range of different ranks, including Officers and Ratings. I have also competed for the Navy. All of these things go towards showing good leadership and organisation properties.

“The OTC and Portland is a really friendly place , I have made lots of friends through windsurfing. The OTC has the best instructors in the business; they are really friendly and professional. I would recommend them highly.

“I have tried to grab every opportunity they have given me, in the end I have used them to enrich my windsurfing and hopefully other peoples development. Without The OTC I would not have been able to windsurf at the level I do, and I would not have been able to teach. The OTC was the first step in my windsurfing career and it has also been a good stepping-stone in my life.

“Through the use of equipment and knowledge. The OTC team and the centre has been the one of the main supporters in my windsurfing journey. It allowed my to develop at my own pace and in my own time.”

To find out more how your youngster can get involved in our grassroots windsurfing, please contact the centre on (01305) 230296 or email

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