We would like to share with you a program that we have envisioned to help spread surfing to the furthest reaches of the planet and making sure it’s done within a frame that keeps it safe and fun for everyone. Many of you have heard of the ISA I am sure. The International Surfing Association is World Governing Body of surfing that runs several world championships and is in charge of the standardization of safety and procedure around surf instruction. If you have heard about how surfing is finally going to be part of the Olympics last week, it is pretty much thanks to them.
RideWithLocal is in the early stages of working with ISA course presenter Tim Jones to enable Sri Lankan surfing some organization, safety and ensure that the local surf schools and local economy reap some of the benefits from the ever growing surf tourism in their country.
Is it important that local surf markets are not dominated from the outside? Absolutely. In some areas many of the larger surf schools operators are run by foreigners, but they do try to use some local instructors, which is great. If local small business and surf schools’ safety and quality could improve they could get a bigger slice of this surf tourist market. The ISA is fully behind the formation of a strong and active National Governing Body and the minster of sport Dayasiri Jayasekara is behind the ISA with sponsorship from RideWithLocal to try to accomplish this.
What are some of the problems you are trying to tackle with the Sri Lanka program? Well, a study was done in Germany about 18 months ago where questions were posed to the ISA about the lack of qualified instructor in certain parts of the world. No ISA course presenters were present at the time in Sri Lanka. The main reason being that the cost of an ISA qualification ran a little high for a 3rd world country. The ISA had run a couple of courses in Sri Lanka in Arugam Bay and Kabalana recently but I wanted to do something that could really get this local surf scene going.
Even with the support of the Sport Minister how will you tackle the fact that the locals will have a hard time to pay for the cost of an ISA certification? With my efforts in partnership with RideWithLocal we have created a package to make Sri Lankan’s able to do the course more affordably by absorbing most of the costs. It’s a big charity effort to give a boost to the local economy that will improve the lives and business for people that work and live in Sri Lanka around surfing which is good for everyone. An important partner in this project is the Life Saving Association of Sri Lanka that are backing this 100 percent. Their involvement and experience is vital to this.
Can you describe what the program will consist of? What will instructors learn and be tested on? The first step of this project the Surf Safety Days which are free of charge. This teaches rescue technique, pick-ups in the water with a surfboard and basic first-aid and CPR. This will hopefully generate interest for instructors to take the full ISA course. Once that course is complete they will take their Beach Life Guard Exams. We believe the package through our subsidizing is very affordable for local and instructors. It consists of a 2 days course a run through the manual reviewing basic styles of coaching and surf safety and technical skills. Then 20 hours plus of practical coaching is undertaken.
What benefits do you think the program will bring to the local economy? We know that when people book surf lessons they usual choose qualified instructors instead of simply good surfers. We are basically trying to give the locals a better chance to provide better and reliable service in the eyes of the scrupulous tourists and increase their confidence in the local services.
What is the most important thing an instructor must keep in mind? Make sure people are learning within safety so they can enjoy surfing and their first experiences make them want to return to the waves. This is achieved by learning surfing with proper methods from people with knowledge of safety procedures and of course using quality equipment like the right boards.