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Jamie Drummond Interview: What to expect on an Ocean Elements holiday

by Mark Jardine 26 Jan 2016 13:00 GMT 26 January 2016
Cat fun at Ocean Elements © Ocean Elements

We spoke to Jamie Drummond at Ocean Elements about the range of beach club holidays they have available, what kind of sailing and other activities you can take part in and which club suits which kind of sailor and family.

Mark Jardine: What would you expect when going on an Ocean Elements holiday?

Jamie Drummond: A lot! We offer something for everybody really, so whether you are just wanting to go out on a paddleboard or kayak and have a bit of an explore around the bay to wake yourself up in the morning you can do that, or if you sail or windsurf at any level, then we can cater for that. If you want to go out and free sail then that's up to you, but what we offer and what's one of the key parts of our product is a very high level of tuition; our RYA qualified instructors offer a full range of courses for beginners to experts. There's plenty going on all the time.

MJ: A lot of people look at sailing holidays when they have a family and the kids from say 6 years old to teenagers, and they think a sailing holiday is a good way to get their kids onto the water for the first time in the warmth. Where would you suggest to go if you were travelling with your family and what activities would be laid on for the kids, not just on the water but on land as well?

JD: All of our resorts are very family friendly, the nice thing about them is that they all have quite a different vibe; Horto for instance is more traditional Greece, quite quiet and the local village is very Greek. The hotel is stunning with a great kids club. Porto Heli is a bigger, more bustling, cosmopolitan resort which has more going on and Vassiliki is quite an established resort which is very good for windsurfing.

They all offer something for kids and for families, including free kids clubs for those aged between 4 and 12, and no matter which club they're in they're always going to be getting involved with activities and doing something out on the water. The younger they are, the more it'll be focused towards 'taster' sessions or joy rides with an instructor in the boat, as opposed to trying to teach the kids how to sail, but if they're not sailing or windsurfing then they'll be out on a kayak, paddleboard or something on the water.

When they're off the water there's loads going on; scavenger hunts, bike rides, powerboat trips down to town, arts and crafts, flip-flop golf - there's loads of stuff keeping them busy all the time and plenty of social activities. The main thing we try to do is get them involved in activities they wouldn't normally do at home which, given that they're out in the sunshine in Greece, is made a lot easier! The kids club staff love just giving the kids the best time possible because at the end of the day, if the kids are happy then mum and dad are going to be happy!

For the slightly older kids aged between 8 and 13, we offer a programme called Youth Squad, which is a payable extra. Youth Squad will take kids through their RYA Youth stages by providing more structured tuition. A typical day in Youth Squad would see the Squad joining the other kids clubs for some on land activities before heading on the water for focused RYA tuition – alternating between sailing and windsurfing. After lunch they'll again split off and have a couple more hours on the water with their RYA instructors, working through the levels and every child in the Youth Squad will finish the week having gained at least one of their stages in sailing or windsurfing. We see loads of progression in Youth Squad, but they still get to join in with the more relaxed activities that the other kids clubs are doing. It caters for kids who've done no sailing before and also for those who are quite handy in their club racing at home – tuition is suitable for all levels.

MJ: If you're an advanced sailor and want to continue sailing when you're out on holiday, which would you say is the best resort for getting the breeze and the time on the water?

JD: I'd say if you're really looking to push your sailing then either Porto Heli or Horto (Leda Beach Club) would be the key resorts, that's where we have a wider kit range tuned towards advanced sailing. We have catamarans in each resort alongside a performance range of boats; an RS100, RS200 and RS500. Then in Porto Heli for instance we have an RS800, a bigger range of cats and generally force 3 to 4 winds most afternoons, so really nice conditions for sailing with a trapeze and spinnakers - and if you're at that sort of level then it offers something to get you out on the water and keep you excited.

At Porto Heli and Horto we also offer day sails where we'll venture out of the bay and head down the coast. From Porto Heli we often go toward the Island of Spetses, anchor up there at one of the nearby beaches, stop and have lunch at a local taverna, and then catch the breeze downwind to come home afterwards, so there's plenty to keep you busy. If you're looking for tuition to really push you then we've got instructors teaching right up to the high level RYA advanced modules, including spinnakers, seamanship skills, racing, trapezing and more.

MJ: Talking of the racing, a lot of our readers are racers the entire time, do you provide any racing on your holidays?

JD: We do. The focus is really on it being quite fun and inclusive, it's not really intense match racing or anything like that - you are on holiday after all! One of the good things that we do, because we provide quite intimate resorts, is we can really cater and tailor each week with what the guests want to do, so if we had a week where nobody was interested in doing any racing then we wouldn't force it on them, but if the following week we had lots of people who wanted to race every day then we'd try and be as flexible as we can and put on as many races as we can. Also, on the final day of the week we'll get the beginners and intermediates, those who've done their RYA levels 1 and 2, out on the water and get them to do a bit of a regatta.

MJ: Lastly, if people are looking for a bit of nightlife as well on their holiday, where do you think is best for going out?

JD: Porto Heli or Vassiliki are probably the ones that tick those boxes the most. Vassiliki's probably quite well known for its nightlife with lots of bars, particularly during the peak of summer, which stay open until the small hours. Porto Heli in the same vein is quite a bustling, cosmopolitan area around the harbour with lots of trendy Greek bars and really comes to life in the evening. Both have a lot to offer if you're looking for a late dinner, a few drinks and dancing.

MJ: Many thanks for your time Jamie.

JD: Thank you!

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