The RYA tell us how you could turn your favourite hobby into a career?
Words & Photos RYA
Get the right gear
There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. With colder weather you need to ensure you have the right personal equipment. Do your research and use the expertise in windsurfing shops to invest in a good wetsuit, gloves, hood and boots – ensuring they fit well too.
RYA instructor qualifications are recognised worldwide, so whether you’re looking to help out at your local club, to travel, or to simply spend more time on the water, the world is your oyster.
“If you’re passionate about windsurfing, instructing can be a great way to build on your core skills, learn your craft and really hone your technique,” says RYA Chief Instructor for Windsurfing, Amanda Van Santen. “There are plenty of opportunities both in the UK and overseas, from volunteering at the weekends, to working full-time at a commercial centre – there really is something to suit everyone.”
Following in her father’s footsteps, Rachel started windsurfing in her hometown of Poole when she was just 9-years-old. Hooked from the very start, she joined her local Team15 club and went on to race at competitions all over the UK before qualifying as an RYA Start Windsurfing Instructor aged 16. Initially helping out as a volunteer, Rachel says it’s a brilliant way to give something back. “I started helping out when I was about 14,” she explains, “I really enjoyed teaching and was keen to get qualified. Volunteering was an easy decision as you already spend so much time at the centre and it’s good to help where you can. It also gives you an opportunity to see what instructing is all about.” Now studying for a Masters in Sports Performance, Rachel is still instructing at “The Watersports Academy” in Sandbanks, the centre where it all began. “It fits perfectly around studying and my life here. Every day is different, I love seeing the progression and everyone always comes off the water after a lesson happy – it’s great fun,” she explains. “After my masters, I’d like to do something in Sports Performance within windsurfing and just keep coaching and instructing as much as I can. I’d definitely recommend becoming an instructor, it’s a really good job and you get to spend every day at the beach – it doesn’t get much better than that!”
28-year-old Ewan learnt how to windsurf during a season working as an RYA Dinghy Instructor in Greece five years ago. “Whenever it got windy, loads of the staff would go out blasting on windsurf kit. It looked like so much fun, I decided I had to get involved,” he explains.
By the end of the summer, he’d fallen in love with windsurfing and wanted to become an instructor. Having now completed seasons all over the Mediterranean, Ewan continues to progress through the instructor pathway, most recently qualifying as an RYA Windsurf Foiling Instructor. He hasn’t looked back: “I’ve been fortunate enough to continually progress in the industry, getting new qualifications and progressing into management roles. This last summer, I’ve been working in the windsurfing mecca of Vassiliki, running instructor training courses for Flying Fish.” For Ewan, the best thing about instructing abroad is the people: “Being part of a beach team, you all live and work together, forming fast friendships that will last well beyond the season. You all get hyped up about going on the water together and helping each other to improve, it’s thanks to the help and coaching from my colleagues that I’ve made so much progress,” he says.
“The worst bit is when the conditions work against you, when the wind doesn’t play ball, constantly changing directions or worst of all, drops or disappears. It can be very frustrating, but it teaches you to be adaptable and to always have a backup plan.”
What are you waiting for?
“If you’re a windsurfer thinking about becoming an instructor, then find a good RYA centre to do the course at,” explains Ewan. “There are a few prerequisites, but once you pass, you’ll get to teach windsurfing everyday – what could be better!”
For more information about the RYA Windsurfing scheme and instructor pathway visit www.rya.org.uk/training.
The RYA Pathway:
• Assistant Instructor
• Start Windsurfing Instructor
• Intermediate Instructor
• Advanced Instructor
• Senior Instructor
• RYA Windsurfing Certificate
• RYA Powerboat Level 2
• First Aid Certificate
You’ll need to be a competent windsurfer and hold some RYA qualifications – whatever level you’re at, you can teach the level below.
Foiling was introduced to the RYA Windsurfing scheme in April 2019. To teach these new and exciting courses you’ll need to be an RYA Intermediate Windsurfing Instructor and also hold the RYA Windsurfing Sustained Flights certificate.