Club Vass are well known for running very successful women's windsurfing tuition, their Diva Weeks helping hundreds of women progress their windsurfing skills whilst having a blast off the water too. Boards catches up with Diva coach, Bethany Mercer, to find out more about what's in store for the Divas in 2013.
Name: Bethany ‘Betty’ Mercer
Instructor level: Intermediate Planing, but taking my Advanced course this summer.
Years coaching: 4 years – this summer will be my 5th!
Favourite move/technique to coach:
My favourite level to coach has to be Intermediates; in a week you see such a transformation in ability! It's wonderful to see a guest start their week of coaching non-planing in lighter winds and then by the end of the week absolutely loving the sport when they discover planing, speed and confidence. I love teaching the harness and footstrap techniques as I think once you have cracked these skills your attitude towards the sport changes massively – you become hooked!
How did you get into instructing?
I have windsurfed from a young age, I think I first stepped on a board around the age of 6. My dad has windsurfed for years and introduced me to the sport, however learning the basics in a thick wetsuit with old school kit on the South Coast didn’t get me hooked straight away. It wasn’t until a watersports holiday in my teens that I thought I really want to give this a go. I decided to do my Flying Fish course in Vassiliki after I finished my A – levels. Then I discovered Vass and saw other girls windsurfing and decided I wanted to become just as good….Vass meant no thick wetsuits only boardies and bikinis, brand new kit and amazing like-minded people. I have been back every year!
Where do you work? And why do you love teaching?
I work in-between the UK and Greece. I spend my time working at Pendragon Productions - a Creative film agency in London as a Creative Producer, travelling and windsurfing and spending my summers teaching at Club Vass in Greece.
I absolutely love teaching a sport that I am so passionate about as each day is as exciting as the next. I love meeting new people, encouraging and seeing people progress within a sport I love so much. It’s fun both teaching on and off the water. The Club Vass beach team are great fun to work with – there is never a dull moment!
What are you looking forward to this summer?
Teaching new and old friendly faces, meeting new people, windsurfing everyday and developing my own skills (I have high hopes, need to crack the Vulcan and try a loop!) as well as teaching others, a well deserved mojito after a day on the water, my favourite tzatziki apple, walnut and avocado salad at Stellios and of course Diva week!
How long have you been involved with the Diva clinics for?
I have been involved in the Diva Clinics ever since my first summer working on the beach at Club Vass. The atmosphere that week is amazing – quite a lot of girl power around. Each year I seem to progress in the level I teach therefore am so excited for this summer!
Who else will you be coaching these with this year?
This year I will be coaching alongside the wonderfully talented Amy Chambers, Emily HR, Maisie Squibb, Laura CH and Emily Smith.
Why are these a great opportunity for women?
Not only is Vassiliki the most incredible place for wind and improving your skills but Diva week is especially non intimidating for women – there is something comforting about having a female instructor who understands different problems women tend to have when learning. For instance we understand when it's time to have an afternoon off to read your book or sunbathe after a full on morning of tuition!
It’s also a great opportunity to meet other likeminded women – we tend to swap email addresses and home windsurf spots at the end of each week, many women discover a windsurfing buddy for when they get back to the UK or a friend for life!
Also, if you have children or a keen bean windsurfer husband/friend it is fine to all come along for Diva week – we have childcare facilities; a kids club and crèche and our usual classes will also be running that week so there is something for everyone.
What can a woman look forward to on a Diva week? Can you give us a quick run down of what they can expect to do? Level they need to be? Other fun activities?
Diva weeks are for any female whether you are a COMPLETE beginner, have dabbled in the sport a couple of times, or you are comfortable planing in the harness to absolute pro! We have female instructors teaching all levels.
The week is designed for women not only to improve their skills but also to meet and socialize with other like-minded female windsurfers. During the week you can windsurf as much or as little as you like but definitely expect to be sharing achievements and cross-shore stories over a mojito at the bar in the evening.
Expect windsurfing all day, optional fitness in the morning along the lines of Yoga, supping on the tranquil water in the morning, and then enjoying the Greek cuisine and cocktails in the evening. Everyday and evening there will be activities and partying to suit all including the legendary Club Vass BBQ with dressing up themes.
Top 3 windsurf tips specifically for women?
- Windsurfing is a sport you really have to pursue to begin with – it can be tough when first learning as it is a sport like no other but I promise after all the clambering on and off the beginner board and finding your balance it will suddenly click and you will learn to love it!
- Never be put off by thinking you have to be physically really strong to be able to go out in high winds – look at me: I’m 5’’2 and not the strongest looking and I love going out when it is howling. It’s not about strength it's about believing you can do it and practicing your technique.
- Don’t be put off by thinking it is a male dominated sport – I mean there may be more guys that windsurf however come and join us for Diva week and you will realise how many other woman are passionate watersports lovers. However, it’s not all so bad windsurfing with tanned topless boys!
Club Vass Diva weeks will be taking place 2nd – 9th June and the 1st – 7th September. No extra charge for Divas! See the Club Vass website here for more details.