In the next installment of the SWA Monthly, Duncan Dumbreck talks through the ins and outs of what can make any student’s summer or gap year. Yes people, we’re talking about the life of a seasonaire.
I would recommend a season to anyone who asked me. No question about it. I loved both the seasons I did.
Because of a certain video people look on the “Gap Year" as something very posh, so I will refer to mine as a year out! There is something somewhat frustrating about the stereotype cast by the phrase gap year, but the gap year doesn’t have to be the stereotypical year between school and university, including a trip to Thailand and Machu Pichu.
I spent seven glorious months of my time between school and university working in Greece as a dinghy sailing instructor (bear with me) for a fairly well known sailing holiday provider. This was split into two seasons in 2008 and 09. I expected that most of my colleagues on the seasons would be the same age and in a fairly similar boat (if you will excuse the pun). In reality there were a lot of people who weren’t in the educational no-mans land that I was.
From Brooksey taking some well-earned time out from his stressful day job as a head chef, to Pippa and Louise at the beginning of their gap life, there was a big mix of people.
I think the point is that seasons are not just for those fresh out of school. It is however a good space filler in your life. If you have a summer between jobs, or are stuck for something to do for a few months then a season is great fun and you can go back to doing them at almost any time.
Why do a season? Well, certainly not to earn money. The lifestyle involved and the meager wage that most season staff are paid adds up to virtually nothing.
So, what then? Well I just mentioned part of it; the lifestyle! Working in the sunshine, sailing and windsurfing in just boardies. Getting paid (sort of paid) to do something you enjoy. Yes there are downsides, like roasting in a safety boat or rigging and de-rigging kit, but there are downsides to every job, and the people you do it with can make it fun to do.
That’s another thing. You are living and working with likeminded enthusiastic sporting people. They love sailing or windsurfing just as much as you. The thought of an after work session with your mates is what gets you through the long days (and if there was no wind then the thought of a few beers in the town!).
Then you learn a lot. I left school a very socially awkward and innocent boy who was OK at sailing, and finished my seasons not so innocent and having learned to windsurf fairly well.
You are very likely to work with people who are better than you at something whether it be tying knots or light wind freestyle, and so you can always learn.
Then the impact teaching has on your own windsurfing. You quickly learn the main pitfalls of technique and it makes you examine your own technique. As a consequence you are bound to improve. Also, constantly getting time on the water, finding ways to amuse yourself while your pupils are up hauling or righting a capsized boat means you try stuff you might not otherwise (floating heli tacks anyone?).
Many of my friends are currently on a season, in fact some of the SWA greats like Beaker (director) and Will Jones (president) have had their season fix this year at their favorite centres. Many make it their life, Taffy on the back of his experiences on seasons has decided to make his way through the watersports coaching world as a career. It is possible.
The point I am trying to make is that seasons have a lot to offer anyone. More than I could ever possibly think of, let alone write here. Whether it be a sabbatical break from the 9-5 drudgery, or a start in the working world. If you find yourself with a few months to kill, look into it, you won’t be disappointed.