I grew up on the South Coast. Learning to surf with family and friends at Middleton are some of my earliest and best memories. It is the same beach where I now enjoy teaching others to surf and enjoy the ocean in a safe and successful manner. In fact, it is the same beach where my parents met when they were learning to surf in their early teens.
I have been an accredited Level 1 Surfing Australia Surf Instructor since 1997 and have experience and helped with the runnings of 10 different surf schools locally, interstate, and abroad. In 2001, I set up South Coast Surf Academy (rebranded to Kombi Surf in 2018) while working for the local aquatics centre through the education department. While teaching surfing, water safety and other aquatics skills, my fellow instructors & I would be constantly quizzed by the public about surf lessons on weekends and school holidays or after work and school. At the time, there were no private surf schools at Middleton to recommend, so I set up my business and the rest is history.
More than 20 years have passed since I started my surf school and I am still as enthusiastic about teaching surfing and water safety today as I was in 1997 when I first began. I get a rush off of seeing students stand up and surf for their first time; I feed off it. I think it reminds me of the basics and the purity of the whole surfing lifestyle. My life revolves around my family and the ocean. If I am not at Middleton’s Surfers’ Beach teaching a group of students the fundamentals of board riding, I’ll be out there catching a wave myself, pursuing fishing interests, or hunting for driftwood all the while looking for and collecting the rubbish that is unfortunately found along the coast.
I also met my wife, Meg, in the summer of 2004/05 through my surf school. We now run the surf school together along with raising two active boys who also enjoy beach adventures – that’s Noah, age 6, competing in his first Wahu Groms Contest at the start of 2016 and Hugh, age 2, hitching a ride on my back in 2014.
I grew up in California. You might imagine that I grew up on the beach but in reality I spent much more time enjoying the mountains. I didn’t learn to surf until I met Dan at the end of 2004. I had just spent a year working and traveling in New Zealand when I made my way back to South Australia where I had been an exchange student 10 years before. I was keen to learn something new on my travels and surfing seemed appropriate. I was 25 years old the first time I stood up on a surfboard and I will NEVER forget it! My life was changed forever.
Less than a year later, I moved to Australia and became a qualified Level 1 Surf Instructor through Surfing Australia. (And three years later, Dan and I got married!) I was slightly overwhelmed at the course sitting among surfers who had been surfing most of their lives. I still had a lot to learn about surfing but I did know quite a bit about the teaching (and learning!) process – I studied to be a PE teacher before moving to Australia. Like Dan, I love the rush of seeing someone stand up for the first time. The sense of accomplishment is amazing and it takes me back to that first wave that I caught.
Dan and I now balance teaching surfing with being parents to our two boys. We love spending time with them at the beach – they love it as much as we do!