Thursday, May 7, 2009

BCU 5 Star Surf Kayak Class - Prt 1

I have been trying for over a year to get into a Surf Coach 3 or 5 star surf class.

These classes are not in high demand and since the BCU restructured all of it's levels, it seemed as though 5 star surf had been conveniently lost. But there is a curriculum, and who better to teach surfing at the highest level than Simon Hammond, coach to the English and Northern Irish teams and the '03 World Champion (at Easky).

As an instructor and instructor trainer, one of the things I like most about my job is taking classes from other coaches. It's not that anybody is teaching anything very different or revolutionary, and I don't expect to learn a lot technically, but I do like to see and experience the components, pace, logistics, and overall presentation of any coach's delivery. I find this especially helpful with surf classes. Teaching someone to surf in a safe, progressive, and challenging environment is not easy. Paddle surfing is a skill based activity that requires a lot of practice and repetition in an ever changing environment. Over the years, as well as teaching many surf classes, I have taken part in classes and workshops with the likes of Nigel Foster, Nigel Robinson, Berty, Ben Lawry, Spencer Cooke, Philip Aschliman, and now Simon. They all cover a wide spectrum of styles in both surfing and teaching. I have come away from each of them with a small gem of awesome surfing knowledge, but ultimately, and more importantly, a much deeper understanding of the sport and culture of paddle surfing.

It seems like a long way to go for a class, but of course it's not... like we really need an excuse to travel to another country to go surfing! It's all part of the futility of the obsession that we imperfect humans crave.

The wind dropped off to a 'light on-shore' in the night. A heavy ground swell rolled in and the waves the next morning were very big with a short swell period. They would break simultaneously in both directions, creating a huge white foamy soup zone that looked more like very deep powder snow running parallel to the rocky shoreline as far as the eye could see. I figured Simon would have a suitable spot where we would have a fighting chance to actually learn something. He did. "This is a classic 5 star location", Simon told us as we stood on the cliff looking over the entrance to Bude Harbour. There were three of us in the class and all of a similar level. We surfed three sessions between tea and pasties at two different spots. We worked on simple technique to improve our understanding and ability to formulate maneuvers and tricks. Simon was fantastic to watch and surfed a lot in the morning. As the tide ebbed he spent more time on the beach while we practised paddle out take offs, top turns, and pivot turns.

It was the perfect day after a lot of travel, planning, and logistics. The sun shone and the craving was once more satisfied.

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