NCW’s second windsurfing team rider, alongside raceboard sailor Mark Kay, is youthful Charlie Gilman. Charlie’s super stoked on windsurfing, as well as surfing, so we hit up Mr G to get the lowdown.
Tell us when you first discovered windsurfing – what appealed about the sport?
I first noticed windsurfing whilst learning to dinghy sail on a small lake in Cheshire when I was 10. It seemed more exciting and accessible so I soon persuaded my parents to let me have a go!
Where did you learn and how long did it take to get up to speed?
A fantastic centre called Astbury Sailsports in Cheshire. Ali Yates was a fantastic instructor and her enthusiasm for the sport rubbed off on a lot of people. I was certainly a very slow learner. The small lake was very gusty and getting lifts to the coast was difficult, however, when I was 15 I started working down in Cornwall at Coverack Windsurfing Centre. Sailing in great conditions over the summer with great instructors allowed me to progress quickly and whenever I have a bit of free time I am never far away.
Can you remember what kit you first owned – if so what was it? Do you still have that gear knocking about?
Getting kit of my own was a big challenge. I eventually persuaded my parents to buy me some gear. I had an old JP freestyle board which was far too small for me and a few sails. It’s all long gone now though.
What kit do you sail now and what’s your fave set up?
I’m really lucky to have sailed some great kit in recent years, however, I have a 2016 Quattro Cube Quad 105 at the moment and a 5.9 Point-7 Spy. Then Point-7 Salt sails in the smaller sizes. I have only had this kit for a few months but it works really well. Being able to have bigger kit to suit my weight makes a massive difference. I also have a bunch of K4 fins which allow me to use my one board in pretty much any conditions. Plus awesome wetsuits from NCW!
Talk us through your local sailing spot – what’s good about it and what frustrates you?
I don’t really have a local spot. I learnt to wave sail at Rhosneigr, Wales, while I was at home. Then I progressed to Cornwall and all the spots there. Having moved to Southampton I sail now also between Kimmeridge and the Witterings, depending on the forecast. I probably spend the most time riding at Avon just outside Christchurch in Dorset. This place is consistent and half an hour from Southampton. On its day Avon can deliver decent cross shore wave riding.
Do you travel much to windsurf? Where do you normally head or is it conditions led?What about overseas? Done much travelling to sail?
I rack up a lot of miles! I normally head down to Cornwall whenever I have some spare time. The conditions are more fun than anywhere I have sailed and the guys down there all sail to an inspiring high standard. I have been to Tenerife a few times and enjoy the warmth but it’s a long way to travel for conditions which can be found in the UK.
How did you find out about NCW and what do you like about their suits? Which model are you currently rocking?
I had been chatting with Mark at the start of the summer and as luck would have it I was in the area when he began developing a suit designed for wind sports. We had a good chat about what was needed for a good windsurf suit and I left for a surf at Polzeath to try a few out. I love my 3/2mm front zip for surfing and I am currently trying a few prototypes for next year’s range including the new wind suit which will be invaluable this winter.
What do you have to do in return for support from sponsors?
Smile and look pretty (haha)! I keep sending in lots of pix and videos of me using the NCW gear and feedback to Mark about how it’s all working. I must say I am really impressed with everything and look forward to being toasty all winter.
Any plans to take your windsurfing to the competition arena?
Yeah, the Student Windsurf Association run a great tour in some brilliant locations and I am looking forward to the BWA Wave Tour this spring in Cornwall, Scotland and on the south coast.
Is it just windsurfing or do you have any other sports in the mix? If yes, how do these compliment your sailing?
I surf too. This winter we had some great days down at Kimmeridge and a fantastic start to the summer in Cornwall. It certainly helps to rack up more time on the water having a few different toys to use in the van.
Tell us about your windy heroes – who do you look up to and who inspires? What about athletes in general? Anyone you particularly admire?
Everyone in the windsurfing world is really friendly and the people at the top of the sport are inspirational. Watching the world tour live online at the moment in Tenerife is amazing!
If you weren’t an ocean sports addict what do you think you’d be doing with your free time?
I sometimes wonder what people who don’t windsurf do with their spare time. Hopefully not Pokemon Go!
How would you go about convincing youngsters to take up windsurfing? What’s the best age to start do you reckon?
The sport is pushed as specialist and it can seem like there’s a huge learning curve. If more people where out at the beach on nice summer days, enjoying the breeze and showing people how fun and accessible it can be, then I think more people would want to get involved. However with most windsurfers not donning the rubber until it’s blowing a gale, on a cold wet beach in the middle of winter, it’s no surprise that onlookers aren’t rushing to book lessons! But I think this is changing…
Quick fire – bacon or sausage?
Blonde or brunette?
Cats or dogs?
Tea or coffee?
Any final shouts, thanks and praise?
The peanut posse, gay John and anyone who’s helped me when my van’s broken down!