There are a few ways to make windsurfing into a full-time job, coaching and teaching are some of them. Most people see teaching windsurfing more asa summer job that perhaps wouldn’t suffice to make a living all year round. Still, Danielle is proof of the opposite, together with her partner Phil she chose her route and created her own coaching business without a fixed location.
Danielle is a full-time windsurfing Coach, running her own business and now also Mum. Known especially on Youtube as GetWindsurfing, the Duo has been coaching windsurfing for years all around the world. But before we get more into how they did that we want to know, Danielle, how did you start windsurfing?
I started windsurfing when I was 21. I dropped out of University and trained to be a windsurf instructor. I was a complete beginner and signed on to a fast track course to learn and become an instructor in 6 weeks. Luckily my first windsurf job was in Egypt with plenty of wind, so my high wind skills were quickly developed. I met my partner Phil there. All Phil ever wanted to do was to windsurf, so this really helped to push me, especially when we moved back to the UK.
How did you get started with GetWindsurfing? Being an instructor and running your own business are two very different things I imagine?
As soon as I became an instructor I knew it wasn’t a summer job for me, so I pushed my level and qualifications and we soon got a job managing a centre in Egypt. It was there we realised we really wanted to run it as our own business. We looked at buying our own windsurf centre but decided, to allow ourselves to travel about more, coaching was a great way to go & we both had the skills and experience to do this. It is a job you do for the lifestyle and love of the sport, and as with all businesses it has been a lot of hard work setting up and building a business to support us both without needing other jobs on the side, but it offers so much reward when we see our customers gaining so much more from their windsurfing with our help.
What are the challenges and rewards of running your own coaching business?
- having to teach when it’s windy and we just want to go and play!
- working around the ever changing weather and tides and of course windsurfers who don’t want to commit too much!
keeping people motivated when the wind is not what they had hoped…often the light wind sessions are the most rewarding as people learn so much when things slow down, but it can be hard to shift peoples mindsets when all they want to do it get planing.
- getting a variety of different, amazing ‘offices’ to work from
making friends and having a windsurf ‘family’ around the world
Seeing people enjoy their windsurfing so much more because of our help…whether it is down to technique advice , kit or location recommendations…
You have recently become a mum, how has that impacted your windsurfing?
How far through your pregnancy could you still windsurf and how long did you stay off the water after giving birth?
I was lucky, I had a straight forward pregnancy and was able to windsurf on and off until 8 months. This is very unusual and for most women I wouldn’t recommend it at all, but windsurfing to me is something I do almost every day and I have such control that I would go when I felt safe to do so, if I ever had a doubt then I would stop, if it was gusty or too crowded on the water, or I was tired for example.
After the birth, I went back out after 3 weeks, I did one run and decided it was a bad idea….it felt so good to get out but was too soon.
I then got some good water time after 6 weeks in Ireland (only 30 mins at a time perhaps) but I was still weak and probably rushed my body a bit to be honest.
As a parent we get so much less time on the water, but I feel like I sail better because of that, I maximise each session often pushing myself more as my time is limited, if it doesn’t feel great I would usually prefer to stop, take a break and be with my daughter and let Phil take a turn. I have more time on land waiting for my turn to think about how to make my sessions better, and so I think I am actually improving because of it. I also have lowered my expectations which is really helpful too!
All started with a shared love for windsurfing, now you run a business together and now you are parents. After so many years of working together as coaches do you still enjoy windsurfing sessions together with Phil? Do you also coach each other?
We get a lot less time out on the water together now as we are so busy being parents or teaching, so when we get to sail together it’s great! We both still have a huge hunger for windsurfing, and are constantly hoping for water time.
I remember in Maui last year someone offered to look after our daughter so I could sail, we shared one wave as Phil was finishing coaching and it was just such a great feeling to be sailing together again.
About coaching, Phil coaches me if I ask him, he has learned the hard way he has to wait to be asked! I give him feedback when I get a chance to watch him when he asks me. We often discuss our techniques and what we have learned or are trying to improve, whether it’s for personal sailing or coaching sessions it’s really helpful to share our experiences.
Having taught so many people do you see a difference in learning windsurfing between women and men?
I see that a lot of Women tend to have less physical strength than men which means they may take longer to be able to do something, for example a beach start, but when they do manage it their technique is often better.
Also a lot of women overthink things and so they may have more mental barriers than men which they need to overcome to progress in the way they want to.
When I was learning I sailed with very few ladies, probably the first time was when I competed in the PWA in Fuerteventura, it blew my mind sailing with the girls on the Freestyle tour!
Still I feel only in the last few years having coached so many women of different abilities, ages and backgrounds have I truly realised the huge value of women windsurfing together, whatever the level.
During the Covid-19 lockdown we saw you started to produce at home windsurfing videos. What can we expect to see from Get Windsurfing in the future?
We have very exciting plans for more new videos to come this year - it has all been delayed because due to Covid-19 - but as soon as we can we will be updating our existing videos with fresh action including more beginner windsurfing techniques.
We are also very much looking forward to resuming our coaching courses internationally, as soon as travel becomes safe again, continuing to build upon the success of our courses in many fantastic locations. We are also working to add some ladies sessions as well as more UK holidays over the next year.
What is your number one advice for people learning to windsurf?
If you can, take a lesson with someone who has suitable kit for you, and take your time…it’s not an easy sport but it’s a lot easier with the right conditions, equipment and instruction.
What is your best advice for people looking to make a living within the windsurfing world?
It has to be a be your passion, and it most likely won’t be easy or bring you tonnes of money, but it will bring you an amazing life and a lot of reward through other peoples achievements and happiness.
Anything you would like to add?
Windsurfing is an incredible sport but also can be very frustrating, waiting for wind, learning new skills and so on. I am always waiting to get out and push myself and be better. However a very important thing, becoming a mum and also Covid -19 restrictions reminded me of, is that windsurfing should be fun and actually we don’t always need to be pushing to be better, it’s an incredible feeling just to be able to get out on the water. To do that, and share the experience with others, is something to be appreciated in itself. And in the meantime when you can’t get on the water, time spent visualising our next sessions and practicing relevant skills on land actually really helps to improve our sessions on the water once we get them!
You can check out a lot of different coaching Video's for free on Get Windsurfing's Youtube Channel or check out their latest clinics here: http://getwindsurfing.com/