Words: Ollie Scott
Pics: Claire Glasby, PROtography, Maleen Hoekstra
Ollie Scott has done the rounds, in windsurfing terms. Starting as a lowly Sunsail instructor Ollie quickly progressed his skills during summers working for Club Vass. Soon he was competing in freestyle with the likes of Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers and Colin ‘Whippy’ Dixon. These days the foot’s off the gas slightly as Ollie has hands full now running CV. We caught up with Mr Scott for a chin wag about how things have changed over the years.
I tried windsurfing on holiday in Spain as a teenager. I could sail a dingy as well but windsurfing appealed more. I got serious about windsurfing after studying sports science so did my instructor ticket and got a job more or less straight away as a windsurfing instructor for Sunsail working in Turkey.
After my first season I knew windsurfing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life – I’ve never looked back. You just get hooked, literally! I just enjoy sailing now but in the beginning I wanted to get better so I had to be on the water as much as possible practising, pushing and learning new moves. I’m past that now and am just happy doing what I do.
I did a few stints working for Rich Page, Trevor Funnel and Andy Groom on the PWA and BWA tours which opened my eyes and surprised me in a few ways. But Club Vass has been the biggest influence, along with Benny Harrison, Si Hurray and Bubble (Andy Chambers).
My first competitive event was way, way back – I can’t remember that much about it. It was Poole Windfest a long time ago. I don’t think I did that well the first time out. Competition is a lot different to free sailing and you need conditions that suit. Plus being on it in terms of form. So many things play their part.
After a while I started to get it. Sailing with Bubble and Whippy (Colin Dixon) really helped. Basically, you free sail with the boys but you’re always in competition mode with each other on the water. You also coach each other as you can see what’s going on when you’re flying next to them. It all helps (helped).
We were a tight little crew. It was wild times: travelling, partying and windsurfing hard. Yeah, for sure I miss the boys and that time but things change and you move on. We’re all still good mates and I will be Bubble’s best man next year! Can’t wait…
I’ve always enjoyed the windsurfing scene as a whole and just wanted to be part of it. I didn’t stick at the competition thing for long though. I had some great moments/results over the years on the EFPT tour but it was always about being part of the freestyle movement at the time rather than winning and getting podiums. I had to stop because of my job. Things got serious with Club Vass and some of my friends like Andre Paskowski (RIP) and Antxon Otaegui had moved on from completion as well. As I say, things change.
I fancied running the Club Vass beach operation for a few years having been manger in Dahab and Margarita during winter. I was stoked to be offered the job running the club not just the centre. It took a while to get my head around it all and dial in to the change. It was a shock realising I had to sit in an office for a few hours a day! It still is…
Running Club Vass is an amazing job. I mean, I’m responsible for the organisation of an amesome windsurfing club, kid’s club, hotel, two bars and a restaurant, 50 staff and up to 250 people in and out daily! I’ve come a long way from teaching foot straps and harness work in Turkey that’s for sure.
The buzz is different. You just evolve. I always need a challenge so running Club Vass keeps me busy (that’s an understatement!). So much happens in a single day my mind is constantly active. I’ve been here 13 years now and counting. I’m enjoying it so yeah, count me in for the long haul. I’m often asked how much longer I’ll continue but I still have tons of energy so can’t see any reason to stop. I get asked that question a lot! Doing lots of yoga helps.
The last few winters I’ve been In Cape Town, South Africa, with Max Rowe. Most of the CV boys and girls head down south as well. If you windsurf and like surfing then It’s the place to go. All the PWA guys are there for training so it works well from a learning point of view. CT is also cheap, has reliable wind and a variety of wave and flat water spots to choose from.
There are no plans to move back UK side – not yet at least. I can’t really see myself living in the UK full time to be honest. My family are in London and Winchester though so I do pop back occasionally. A lot of friends live around Poole or Chichester as well.
I’m lucky and grateful to still be supported by the industry for my windsurfing by actually working in it. I’ve obviously got access to the world’s biggest windsurfing toy cupboard with Club Vass! Tony and Roger (Club Vass owners) sponsored me in the beginning and I use the centre’s gear – Severne and JP. Mystic and Nikiboy Green have been amazing in the last few years with wetsuits and clothes while Boardwise’s Ian and Doug are just legends. They have always been good for getting me sorted with kit even if it’s just a fin bolt.
I don’t use Facebook so much but my Instagram has quite a healthy following. I get a lot of likes and follows for my windsurfing posts – 6,150 likes is the best so far. To be fair I speak to a huge number of guests personally each year about gear and windsurfing, so from a shop or sponsors point of view I’m useful as I can be used as a sort of sales tool for equipment.
Guests are a captive audience. But just because you’re a hotshot PWA freestyler doesn’t mean you can talk kit with the general windsurfing public. You must have good knowledge, understand each individual’s wants/needs and then have the people skills that making conversing with guests from all walks of life comfortable and relaxed.
Windsurfing is ever changing. I was with Bubble in March windsurfing at Avon (Dorset) and there must have been 50 people on the water so I’d say it’s doing OK. The vibe and buzz was right on! If Club Vass is anything to go by then there are still lots of people from the UK wanting to get their windsurfing fix. Everyone in the industry has a different point of view though. I suppose it depends if you’re selling gear, the lifestyle, teaching or competing.
I see people progress very quickly at CV but most would say this is because it’s an easy place to coach and sail. Sun and flat water = huge improvement.
We coach windsurfing in a slightly different way at Club Vass to most other venues. We teach the RYA syllabus for Start Windsurfing but we also coach the skills required to progress as a windsurfer in the purest sense. We’re not just about collecting tickets, although it’s still important to do so. Maybe update the syllabus?
SUPs are keeping the windsurf game going now, to an extent – or at least inflatables. The foiling thing has got people’s juices flowing again. We’re running foiling tuition with Max Rowe this summer at Club Vass on our JP foil boards. Maybe foiling could go to the Olympics?
It’s good to support female windsurfing as well – we do this a lot. It’s grown more in the last few years. Some female pro sailors are nailing all the bigger moves but they are coaching to a higher level as well. I have four advanced female instructors working at Club Vass (check out Clare Elliott’s profile from issue two – ed) – now that’s impressive in my book! These girls can do spocks and loops so it’s good to see progression in the sport from all ages and all levels. The last few Diva Weeks at Club Vass had close to 40 female windsurfers per week, which we’re super proud about.
Windsurfing is a hard sport but an amazing one – a never-ending journey whatever your level. Club Vass is a special place that anyone interested in getting into windsurfing should visit. After that you’ll be back year after year.
There are too many shout outs to thank everyone. I’m just grateful to be part of windsurfing in the UK and abroad!