The Student Windsurfing Association

Throughout all of our windsurfing journeys, countless factors have changed as we continuously grow and develop. We see vast progression in: the equipment we use; the strength of wind we look for; the skills we practice and the confidence we posses. Despite all of the ongoing advances there is one very crucial constant, critical to unlocking our potential. Our support, our guidance, our instructor. Without their warm words of advice, lines of encouragement and relentless enthusiasm, none of us would be the windsurfers we are today. Those inspirational mentors who dedicate their efforts to showing us the ways of the windsurfing wizards are one of the key reasons we love our sport so dearly.

As we ourselves reach a certain level of windsurfing many exciting opportunities open up. None more exciting than the chance to pass on all that we have learnt to next wave of windsurfing talent. The decision to start teaching can be one of the most rewarding decisions you can ever make in windsurfing. So, what are you waiting for, it’s your time to lead. Surprise yourself, instruct. 


Recently the SWA caught up with one of its most experienced waterspouts instructors Taffy Osbourne. Taffy has been a lifelong instructor of both sailing and windsurfing. He has instructed and managed watersports centres in the UK and around the World, including Corsica, Egypt, Greece and France. Taffy currently runs his very own water sports centre in North Wales. Here is Taffy’s take on what being an instructor offers you and how you can get onto a course. 


 Taffy Talks Teaching

What’s great about being a windsurfing instructor? What’s great about being a student and a windsurfing instructor? Where do I start. The question reads to me like “justify all your life choices for the last ten years,” because being an instructor is so awesome that it’s effected literally everything that I’ve done since.

OK, for starters – you will be the coolest kid on the block. Short of being an astronaut, racing car driver, or jet fighter pilot, you have the most awesome job of all. Hanging out on the beach, helping people have fun is epic fun, and everyone knows it. I’ve taught my fair share of accountants, engineers, layers, policemen, scientists etc. to windsurf and what they all have in common other than enjoying themselves is on some level, they are jealous of you – you get to do THIS and get PAID for it?!

What about skills? Doing your instructor training teaches you the nuts and bolts of running an instructor course, but the learning really gets going once you are in the job. With the RYA’s model of having a senior instructor supervising all activity, it means someone is always there to make sure that you are constantly improving. The best thing is that a huge amount of this is transferable. When I was a student, I found that some of the things I was asked to do were a real challenge for my course mates. Working in a team and presenting information in particular were difficult for many, which were second nature for me with my background in instruction. 

Seasons? Oh yes. So the windsurfing training industry has a problem. The demand for their product is absolutely enormous for about six weeks of the year, moderate for a while either side of that, and non-existent in the winter. Luckily, they have an answer to this – the student instructor. Whilst at university, on most courses you have an absolutely enormous and awesome summer break. This means if you are a qualified start instructor you are very in demand for the peak season in the Mediterranean. Get flown to a hot country, to work on a beach all day and party all night? Sounds pretty good. It IS pretty good. It is definitely hard work both physically and mentally, and not for everyone. Also the partying is offset by the lack of pay and the need to be ready and on time for work with no visible signs of last night showing every day. I think when work is that much fun, and I get to hang out all day with a team of instructors just like me it’s more than worth it. 

Do you actually need money over the summer? Do the same season but at your local RYA centre in the UK. The UK has convenient laws about minimum wage and you aren’t having pay deducted for accommodation and food etc. Teaching in the UK can be more of a challenge due to much more variable conditions and the need to teach in miserable weather from time to time, but it’s still great fun (I work full time in the UK now) and you have a lot more in your bank at the end of the season.

Back at university after the summer, it is hugely rewarding giving back to your windsurfing club. You’ve got the skills to make the club that you’ve come to love a really attractive thing for a new intake of beginners. Helping others have all the fun you’ve had learning to windsurf and learning to be an instructor keeps it all going round and means the student windsurfing experience is going to available for generations more students to come. 

If this all sounds great or you’d already worked all the above out on your own, speak to your club president about getting your instructor ticket through the SWA courses run at Colwyn Bay Watersports in April and July, or contact the centre direct. We look forward to welcoming you to the family of windsurfing instructors!





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