The UK coaching duo Phil Richards and Danielle Lucas, well known as GetWindsurfing, have been coaching windsurfing for years all around the world. We got an exclusive interview and have shared their at home windsurfing coaching videos with you here below. Get inspired to practice windsurfing at home with GetWindsurfing!
How did you two start windsurfing?
Phil – When I was 15 I started on a tiny lake surrounded by trees in the middle of England. I instantly fell in love with windsurfing and decided that this is what I want to do. I soon got a job working at the lake.
I would windsurf any free moment I had. If I was lucky enough for it to be “windy” I would be on huge sails and boards to get planing. Most of my early windsurfing was spent doing light wind freestyle on a beginner board. I only started high wind windsurfing consistently when I moved to the coast to study and then time living abroad.
Danielle – 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 instructor job was in Egypt with plenty of wind, so my high wind skills were quickly developed. I met 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.
Did you go from being competition sailors to coaches? Please explain the process of becoming professional windsurfing coaches.
Phil – This actually happened the other way around for me. I came from a coaching background. This took me to various jobs in different locations around the world teaching windsurfers. I would windsurf before and after work. Even at lunchtimes too. If it was windy and we had free time then it was spent windsurfing. With lots of practice and trying to copy pros who were training I eventually found that I was at a level to compete too. The competitions were an amazing experience. It was plenty of fun but we found that it was not the right path for us. We started to focus back on the coaching. It is very fulfilling to share this sport with others and help people achieve their goals, progress and have fun on the water.
Danielle – So I started training to be an instructor as a complete beginner. I never dreamt I would be good enough to compete, and imagined I would perhaps only ever teach beginners. It was through our time working in Egypt that my freestyle skills increased to the level I felt able to compete. During my time in Egypt, I also took intermediate and advanced instructor courses and increased my coaching experience throughout. Traveling around the world training and teaching has really helped push my skills in different places. Having Phil always that level above me has really helped me to constantly increase my personal and coaching skills through his experiences as well as my own.
Where is your favorite place to teach people windsurfing?
Phil – This is an impossible question for me to answer! I love so many locations for multiple reasons. The variety of places and conditions really helps to create a more complete learning experience.
Although to give some ideas of some locations we go too…..
For flatwater skills, Bonaire is amazing to build confidence and perfect moves with consistent flat water conditions.
I love teaching high wind flatwater skills in Crete because it is a super windy and fun place to be.
In waves, I love to teach in Ireland as there is such a range of great conditions in uncrowded spots, its a real adventure trip.
I also really enjoyed teaching wave sailing in Maui. It is a very special place.
I could go on talking forever about different spots but really it’s the people who make the place. Everywhere is special to us.
Danielle – I also find this a difficult question! If I had to pick then I would say Bonaire is incredible, as a teaching and learning location. The flat shallow water and great temperatures make it a fantastic spot for all. Ireland is my other favorite place. Although sometimes the temperatures and changing winds can be a challenge, you have all kinds of conditions and an absolutely stunning backdrop whichever way you look. It is constantly changing with the weather. Everyone loves it there! And with us guiding and coaching them they really get the best of whatever the conditions throw our way.
What makes a windsurf clinic so special?
Phil – The people who attend the clinic really make each course unique and special. Sharing experiences, achievements, camaraderie with the others in the group. It all helps to create a great learning environment. Most people come looking to really push themselves. They definitely spend more time windsurfing during a coaching week than they would if they just came outside of clinic. Our students go on the water in conditions they wouldn’t normally go out in. This means they often train skills they probably don’t usually work on, in less or more wind than they would usually choose. This makes them a stronger all-round windsurfer. Going back to basics really surprises them how much it increases their advanced skills once the conditions are more familiar to them.
Why should people join a windsurfing clinic?
Coaching at a clinic is a great way to improve. Learning by yourself is definitely possible and an important skill to develop. However, coaching is a great tool to allow you to focus your efforts in the right areas to achieve your goals. It will give you fresh ideas and inspiration for your windsurfing. Also having a coach see what you are doing will allow them to give you valuable feedback on stuff you may never have been aware of on your own. It is also a great way to have fun, explore new locations, build confidence and meet people with similar interests.
How is life as windsurf coaches?
Phil – Amazing! We get to travel the world and teach people to do something they are passionate about. It´s great being able to help people enjoy their windsurfing. I feel very lucky to do the job we do.
As with everything though there are disadvantages. Such as the time spent in airports, airplanes, on the road, etc. But I feel it is balanced by being in the amazing locations we go to and meeting so many people from around the world.
Danielle – I love coaching and having had 18 months off teaching due to the birth of our daughter, I really loved getting back into coaching this winter in Bonaire. I had really missed it. Everyone is different, and every lesson is different due to the huge amount of variables within the sport. It’s a great challenge with massive rewards. The joy of seeing people learning and progressing and having an amazing holiday is fantastic.
The downside for me is being away from home, family, and friends so much. But we are so lucky to have an amazing windsurfing family around the world. Everywhere we coach we feel at home now! We feel part of the family as soon as we arrive, and when we do get days off we are certainly in some fantastic locations!
What is the hardest move to teach others?
Phil – This is a hard question for me to answer as I find everyone is very different, and locations play a massive part in this. One that is the most tiring for students is definitely the water start as there is a lot of swimming involved. It’s important to persevere with this though as this is going to save you sooooo much energy in the future.
Get Windsurfing has been concentrating on teaching university students for a while. Tell us about that idea.
Each year we run a clinic for university students. It is a heavily subsidized course that gives students access to coaching that otherwise, they may not be able to access at that time in their lives. Lots of people learn to windsurf while they are young but stop when life gets busy and expensive while studying. If we can make windsurfing more accessible to students then it helps the sport continue to grow with young people.
Which Starboard boards are you guys using for instruction and which ones for free sailing?
In flatwater conditions, we are mostly teaching from a freestyle board as they are just so versatile, fast and early planing.
If the wind is light the Carve is great for getting us going and we can also double it up as our foil board.
For the waves, it will have to be the performance of an UltraKode.