A catch-up with Natalie McWilliams
Natalie is a seasonal insturctor at Cumbrae and, in September, became the first female to claim the title of Scottish Windsurf Champion. She’s 21 and currently studying at Aberdeen. She recently took some time out to provide some insight to sportscotland, below:
How did you get into windsurfing?
I got into windsurfing at age 11, when my mum enrolled me in a taster course activity day at our local lake, James Hamilton Heritage Park. On this day, I tried sailing, windsurfing and canoeing but of course fell in love with windsurfing so persuaded my parents to do the Start windsurfing course and from then on I became addicted and went along to the local Team 15 club where I improved and learnt in a fun environment.
What was your experience of sport when you were younger? What were the challenges you faced?
Sport has always been a big part of my live. From very young I was part of swimming club, athletic club, as well as dancing. All of which I got to a reasonable standard with. However, being an outdoors type of girl and loving to be near the sea I took every opportunity to jump to the sport of windsurfing. Windsurfing is sometimes seen as a mainly male dominated sport and it has been great to see more girls within the sport.
What does it mean to you to have become the first female Scottish Windsurf Champion?
It’s so amazing and such an excellent achievement. The weekend consisted of hard conditions and competitors who were on bigger sails and boards than me, making it a challenge to try and beat them.However, that is part of the fun and winning this event has gave me the encouragement and determination to go further and improve my skills.
What transferable skills have you gained, both from competitive sport and being an instructor?
As an Ex Scottish Squad member for several years and being in the British youth squad, I learnt a lot and had the chance to make friends from all over the world. This understanding of how people react and respond has in turn allowed for me to adapt and encourage people intowindsurfing, as an Instructor. It has taught me to participate and work as a team as well as developing leadership skills.
How do you balance training and competing with your studies?
To make sure that my assignments are performed to the best of my ability, I start assignments as soon as they are given, allowing me to spread work over a couple of weeks, rather than crushing it into the last few days before it is due. I have found this is the best way to balance my training and competing with university work.
Why do you think it’s important for girls to be involved in sport and physical activity?
I think it’s important because it helps lead to happier and healthier lifestyle and you can make lots of new friends and learn new skills. Also, physical activity is a good stress buster. Thanks to windsurfing I have also travelled worldwide seeing a variety of places, such as San Francisco, Helsinki and Cesme for example.
What do you think stops some girls from getting active, and what do you think might encourage them? I feel that some feel self-conscious about what other think and I believe no matter what shape, size, appearance and goals you have. You should do everything possible to achieve it, no matter what other people think.
What advice would you have for girls considering taking up a new sport such as windsurfing?
Find a local club or enrol in a course in the many activities offered at the National Centre Cumbrae…but most of all go have fun, go out with others and don’t be afraid to ask and talk to other budding windsurfers. Everyone is friendly and helpful.
NEWS RELEASE on behalf of the SSI Board
SCOTTISH SAILING INSTITUTE BROADENS ITS HORIZONS
As a result of a challenging financial environment, the board of directors of The Scottish Sailing Institute (SSI) has agreed to merge the SSI with the sportscotland National Centre Cumbrae in order to sustain a Scotland wide event resource for the future. The new arrangements will ensure the SSI continues to work closely with RYA Scotland, clubs and classes to provide world class event support through out Scotland.
Utilising the marketing support available through Inverclyde and RYA Scotland, the SSI will continue to seek to bring sailing events to Scotland making the most of Scotland’s naturally varied locations and the world class championship facilities in Largs.
Continued support will include race management training, event consultancy and physical resources to enable clubs all across Scotland to benefit from the world class water sports event management experience held within the SSI. Coordination of race management training will be undertaken by RYA Scotland and will enable more courses to be delivered across Scotland. The physical resources will be accommodated by sportscotland in its facilities at Cumbrae & Inverclyde, in Largs and will be available for hire in 2017.
The SSI Board is confident that these changes will secure the skills, experience and resources of the SSI for the future and will ensure Scotland continues to attract events to our shores.
Quote from John Kent – Principal sportscotland National Centre Inverclyde & Cumbrae:
“The merger is a great opportunity for Scottish sailing to take advantage of the skills & equipment developed over 17 years of operation. By joining the SSI with sportscotland and working closely with RYA Scotland the SSI will be able to offer a truly Scottish service in 2017. sportscotland, Event Scotland and the RYA& RYA(S) will be working closely together to also attract major sailing events to Scotland and Largs. 2017 sees the SSI expanding its horizons for the benefit of Scottish sailing.”
Quote James Allan of RYA Scotland:
“The SSI has been a key element in securing major sailing events for Scotland over the years. I am pleased that the partners have been able to come together and find an arrangement that keeps the core elements of the SSI available for everyone to benefit from and maintains the commitment to Largs as the premier location in Scotland for major national and international sailing events.”
Quote Ewan Macpherson Commodore of Largs Sailing Club:
“Largs Sailing Club looks forward to continuing to work closely with RYA Scotland, sportscotland, the Scottish Sailing Institute, Largs Yacht Haven and other partners, building upon almost two decades of success in the hosting and delivering almost 200 major Scottish, UK and World Championship sailing events. Together with contributions from across Scotland we have forged a world class team with a reputation which extends across the oceans. We look forward to working closely with all of our partners to build upon this success into the future.”
We’re delighted that the dedication and effort put in by Cumbrae’s Tom Thurlow is being recognised at the upcoming RYAs Annual Awards Dinner in January. Tom has been shortlisted for the ‘Official of the Year’ Award.
Congratulations and Good Luck to all the nominees!
For more information visit: http://bit.ly/2gpwDHf