The RYA tell us more about their Team15 programme for young windsurfers.
Words RYA // Photos Richard Aspland/RYA
Team15 (T15) is a windsurfing club revolution! Powered by the RYA, it’s a nationwide network of windsurfing clubs where young people aged 16 and under can get together to learn new windsurfing skills and have a laugh with their mates on the water. Whatever your skill level, regular windsurfing sessions will improve your windsurfing ability very quickly. And if you’ve never tried it before, you’ll have the basics mastered in no time. From first time windsurfer to a relative expert, Team15 clubs welcome all levels. The RYA caught up with 13-year-old Daisy Illingworth, who started out at her local T15 club, to see how it all works and what comes next.
RYA: Where did you learn to windsurf?
Daisy: Aztec Watersports in Lower Moor, Worcester.
RYA: Where and when did you start T15?
Daisy: I started Team15 five years ago when I was eight years old. Having learned the basics at Aztec Watersports I used to go down with my friends from swimming. At the time we were using two-metre sails. After a year there I moved to Farmoor Reservoir in Oxford and joined Oxford Zoomers.
RYA: What did you do in your weekly sessions?
Daisy: Lots of getting rescued at first! But to start with, it was basic skills like tacks, gybes and the sailing position. Over time we started moving onto bigger sails and learning faster manoeuvres. We always did a bit of freestyle to finish sessions as well.
RYA: What came next?
Daisy: We started going to interclub challenges, and my first events were actually at Oxford.
RYA: Tell us about your first ‘interclub’.
Daisy: It was quite windy (well, I thought it was!). I was using a 3.5 sail for the first time, but had smaller sails if I needed. I went out absolutely stacked and then came in and changed down to a 2.5. I was still stacked on that and by the end of the day was on a 1.5, but I managed to get out off the beach and round the buoy, albeit with a fair bit of swimming. It was challenging but fun. There were loads of people helping out on the shore giving tips and getting us on the water. We also do skills challenges at most of the interclubs as well.
RYA: So what’s your best freestyle trick?
Daisy: A heli tack, and I can do them one-handed (ish!).
RYA: You still do ‘interclubs’, but what was your next challenge after attending your first ones?
Daisy: We went to the National Windsurfing Championships; I’ve done it three times now. I also started doing the UKWA inland events, and I did the Regional Junior Championships in Weymouth that year.
RYA: What is Zone Squad and how did you get into it?
Daisy: The Zone Squad was recommended by my T15 Coach at Oxford. It’s six weekends of training through the winter, where you get to improve your skills and meet loads of people.
RYA: What skills did you learn at Zone Squad?
Daisy: I started using different kit, the biggest things being harness work and footstraps. No matter what the conditions were, we’d learn something, whether it was high wind blasting or freestyle when it was really light.
RYA: What are you currently doing now?
Daisy: I’m currently in the UK Junior Squad. It’s a bit more race focussed, but I still do Zone training and T15. I’m now competing at UKWA coastal events and have even been to some international events last year. I went to Latvia and Greece with loads of other people from Britain.
RYA: What’s been your windsurfing highlight so far?
Daisy: I’ve had loads of great moments I remember really well. In Pwllheli last year we did a coaching session on carve gybes. I got round quite a few and then saw a dolphin afterwards. That was a pretty good day.
RYA: What’s next? ‘
Daisy: I’m going to Israel for the Europeans this year and Cadiz for the Worlds in October. I’m trying to improve my windsurfing as much as possible, but I’m also trying to help out the younger windsurfers just starting at T15.
RYA: What’s the best bit of advice to someone thinking about T15 or just starting?
Daisy: Windsurfing isn’t the easiest thing to pick up, but it’s loads of fun learning. You’ll meet lots of people along the way and it doesn’t have to be all one discipline. It’s not all about racing, but the racing is fun. It can be about skills, racing, freestyle or whatever you want it to be.
To find out more about Team15 go to www.rya.org.uk/programmes/rya-team15.