Having been on a number of sailing/windsurfing family holidays, I thought it would be good to improve my personal skills and get the instructor qualifications so that I could work at a holiday centre during the summer of my gap year, and in future uni holidays.
I signed up for the 12 week Sail/Windsurf Instructor Traineeship with Flying Fish in Sydney. I got in touch with a couple of the people who were also on the course, so I met up with them on the flight over.
Living in Manly was amazing – wonderful weather, fantastic shops, great beach, relaxed lifestyle, excellent nightlife. The first night there we went to the bar which would become our nightly haunt, to 'get over our jetlag' (yeah right).
On the course we worked hard. It was intense and successful training, which improved my sailing loads. One day we went out in 30 knots of wind, and caned it up and down, kite up, crew on the wire, flat out – great fun. I passed my sailing instructor week with flying colours – I obviously perform well under pressure...!
Moving onto the windsurfing... Where to start? It's now my favourite hobby, I can't get enough of it. Again, the course was intense, which meant a high improvement rate. One day I could hardly balance on the board with a 3.5 metre sail, the next I was planing across the bay, in the harness and footstraps. So much fun! Again, I passed the instructor course, so I'm now qualified to teach both sports.
The people on my course, and on all the other Fish courses in Sydney, were awesome – a great group who provided endless entertainment, and some people who I hope to stay in touch in the future, and who I am now working with.
We tended to all go out as one big group, having warmed up for the evening at home, playing 'Beer Pong', building human pyramids, having cake fights... The Flying Fish socials were also always amusing – Bond, Hawaiian, cocktails, barbecues, a real mixture. There were evenings spent singing karaoke, trolley racing, midnight swimming on famous Manly Beach or in a hotel fountain, at the Sydney Opera House Bar, a mask party...
A lot of our stay was filmed by the Fish instructors who made us a great DVD at the end of the course, including windsurfing, sailing and social footage.
Straight into work
I stayed in Australia for a two week holiday, went home for four days, and straight into work with Minorca Sailing for the summer, one of the top sailing and windsurfing holiday companies in the Mediterranean.
Like on the Fish course, all us instructors were about the same age and all enjoy the same wind-related sports, so I'm had a blast.
My gap year's been awesome. It's made me so much more confident and given me skills and hobbies that I wouldn't have achieved if I'd gone straight to uni. I've met loads of great people, and done loads of cool stuff.
I would definitely recommend Flying Fish – everyone I met out in Oz was having a wicked time. It was great to be achieving qualifications while having a fantastic time.......