A group of Dorset youngsters are riding the crest of a wave after successfully qualifying as windsurfing instructors.
Josh Sheppard, Maria Lochrie, Freddie Cook and Jack Stone were all taught to windsurf at the Official Test Centre (OTC), based at the National Sailing Academy, Portland. The quartet all achieved Start Windsurfing and Non-Planning Intermediate qualifications before undertaking full windsurfing instructor training. The training has been run by the OTC, with input from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). Funding for the project was put together by the Chesil Trust using sponsorship from local housing provider Synergy Housing, and a grant from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
Josh, who lives on Portland, said: “It’s one of the best learning experiences I’ve had and would recommend it to anyone. What I got out of it was a very enjoyable way of trying a new and different sport and I also met lots of new people and gained more confidence.”
Maria, from Weymouth, added: “It was a really good course – the staff were very helpful and friendly. They helped me massively develop my windsurfing ability, as well as building my confidence both on and off the water, especially when teaching.”
It’s the second time the project has been run, following a successful pilot in 2013, which saw three unemployed 18-24 year olds successfully train as fully-qualified sailing instructors. The experience completely transformed the trio’s lives – all three now work as sailing instructors in Dorset, Devon and Australia.
Paul Seaman, Synergy Housing community development facilitator, said: “This has been an amazing opportunity for Josh, Maria, Freddie and Jack to gain an internationally-recognised qualification and learn new skills using some of the best facilities of their kind anywhere in the world.
“We work closely with a number of partners in the local area to tackle unemployment issues. Helping local people to gain the expertise they need to help them get into work is one of our top priorities. All four of them have worked tirelessly and their new qualifications open up lots of exciting possibilities for them. The world really is their oyster now.”