Words by Corinne Evans
Photos by Megan Hemsworth
When you think of a surf lesson, what do you think?
You may conjure up images of a group of budding surfers on the beach, all in matching rash vests, eagerly hanging on their surf coaches every word, before attempting to pop up on a giant yellow foam surfboard. These images aren’t too far from the truth, but there is another style of coaching, a form of coaching not tailored to beginner surfers. We are talking about surf coaching for intermediate and advanced surfers.
Surfing is one of those sports that you can never become comfortable in. There is always another manoeuvre to learn, a bigger wave to surf or something to perfect. It’s not a sport that you can pick up and improve straight away. It takes years, which is why some surfers opt to get coaching, even if they are surfing on the world stage.
Yes, the WCT surfers have surf coaching, trainers and people around them to help them improve their surfing prowess. So, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.
My name is Corinne, I am a self-confessed distinctly average surfer, who favours the smaller waves, loves surfing in the cold and hates busy surf. I have been surfing for 15 years, and at this time, I have taken part in beginners, intermediate and advanced lessons. I think surf coaching is always a good idea, but if you’re a progressive surfer, then you want to pick your surf coaches and surf school wisely.
On my recent trip out to California with Visit California, I got the change to have a surf lesson with the top US and WQS Surfer Meah Collins. The lesson was held at Huntington Beach and was arranged by Surf City USA, and hosted by McKinnon Surf School. When I found out Meah would be coaching me, I instantly knew it would be a good lesson. A local around Huntington and with multiple competitions wins under her belt it was pretty evident I would be good hands.
The conditions were pretty fun, but the waves were slightly shifting, meaning it was hard to figure out where to sit. Thankfully that’s what Meah was for!
Meah shared her local knowledge with me; she helps me pick off the best waves and gave me tips on how to make the most out of the waves at Huntington Beach. At no point did I feel embarrassed about getting surf coaching; in fact, I felt more comfortable in the surf, knowing I had a local on my side, helping me get waves.
The lesson taught me a lot about the break, it made me paddle for waves I probably wouldn’t have paddled for before, and above all I had fun! I managed to score a couple of fo fun waves, did a few turns and returned to the beach feeling stoked.
If you’re planning on heading off on a surf trip and looking to get some surf coaching or wanting to work with your local surf school, my advice would be:
Be honest about your ability.
It’s very easy to sugar coat your surfing ability but doesn’t. Be brutally honest about your surfing; that way your surf coach can give you set goals to work on.
Do your research.
Do a bit of investigative work before booking your surf lesson. Can they cater to intermediate or advanced surfers? Who will be running the session? What’s there experience?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Leave your ego on the beach.
Whether you have stickers on your board and stand under the umbrella of being a “pro surfer” or your a weekend warrior looking to perfect your cut back – forget your ego! There is no room for ego in these kids of lessons. Be open to critique and welcome the advice your coach is going to give you.
Go for it.
What have you got to lose? Book a lesson, give it your all and hopefully you will come out of the sessions full of motivation and more knowledge of surfing.