"I don't think I would be where I am today if it wasn't for working at Wildwind." - Tris Best
Continuing with our ex-staff series we recently caught up with Tris Best who founded and runs the OTC UK centre in Weymouth.
When did you at Wildwind and how old were you?
April 1998 to August 2001 – from age 19 to 22
What was your speciality at Wildwind?
Windsurfing and pitch-poling a Hobie 16!
Before working at Wildwind I had limited sailing experience on Wayfarers, Toppers and Lasers, so was reluctant to call myself an experienced sailor. Egon (Joe Constable) and George Kubu mentored me and showed me how to handle a Hobie in a cross shore, so when I was allowed on the boats (!) it was always the 16. Loved single-handing an 18 during my lunch break if the morning onshore stayed in and trying to fly a hull the width of the bay, but tended to be embarrassing if I capsized as I didn’t have the weight or technique to right it on my own… Other than that, it was windsurfing and all the boards and sails of ‘Club Vass Centre 2’ as it was known back then.
What did you do after working for Wildwind?
Worked at Windsurf Magazine as their Features and Test Editor until 2006, when I co-founded the Official Test Centre with another ex-Wildwind employee Ben Wood.
What do you do now?
Run the OTC UK centre, which is based at the the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. I am still the Test Editor for Windsurf Magazine and on the odd occasion I teach others how to instruct by using my RYA Trainers qualification.
What is your best memory of working for Wildwind?
It was always about the team. We worked really closely with Club Vass in the years I was there and the atmosphere was electric; more like a family than a work environment. Sure, there were down times, and periods of mid-summer blues, but it was such a good laugh. The Wildwind BBQ was infamous for its entertainment and booziness, and dancing on the Zeus Bar shelf was a must for anyone who wanted to say they’d had the full Vass experience. We had lots of returning guests whether the wind blew or not, as the week was much more than just what happened on the water. I’d also say that we were perhaps perceived as the mavericks of the bay as we often got up to ‘light hearted’ mischief. Not that anything was unprofessional, but the reality was that we were just having as much fun as our guests. And because we were having such fun, the atmosphere was so good and the guests wanted to come back for more each year.
Do you think working at Wildwind helped you with your future career?
I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for working at Wildwind. I met the Test Editor of Windsurf Magazine at the time – Simon Dawkins – when he came out on holiday to Wildwind in '98 and we got on well as we were both trying to perfect our flat water forwards. I jokingly said I would be more than happy to help out on the tests in the future and he rang me to invite me onto his team in early ’99. From there, the doors opened to where I am today.
Any other anecdotes from your time at Wildwind?
I have so many anecdotes, but don’t think many are repeatable here. Suffice to say that my whole Wildwind experience started by being interviewed by Egon and Little Joe at the Boat Show at Earls Court in January 1998. Whilst Egon was asking me the routine questions of my sailing and windsurfing experience, Little Joe was interjecting throughout the interview with questions such as, “What musical instrument can you play?”, “Can you juggle?” The uniqueness to Wildwind and the experience you have being on the team starts there and doesn’t end. Loved every minute of working in Vass on the Wildwind team and made some true friends for life.
The OTC is a windsurfing, kitesurfing and stand up paddling (SUP) centre located right on the water’s edge, within the grounds of the National Sailing Academy on Portland. Accessible at any tide state and exposed to the best wind statistics on the south coast, The OTC has an affiliated RYA/AALA accredited school to cater for all abilities, and has the very latest equipment on hand to test, visit www.uk.otc-windsurf.com for more information.