How to start a surf school

Starting a surf school is more than buying 10 beginner surfboards and sharing the stoke of surfing. Learn how to setup your signature surf academy by following the official guidelines.

Surf schools are everywhere and there are almost as many learning centers as teaching methods. There are good and not so good surf schools. The first thing that should be taught are the basic rules of surf etiquette.
Many experienced and competitive surfers learned how to take off on a wave by themselves. Surf magazine and surf videos will boost their personal surfing knowledge, as time and waves pass by.
The first surf instruction schools were opened in the 1910s, when tourists flocked to Hawaii. Back in those days, the Waikiki beach boys were the first surfing teachers of the sport.

Modern surf schools start flourishing in California, during the crazy 1960s, but the biggest surf academy boom kicks in the early 1990s, when surfing dropped its "alternative" status for a healthy lifestyle.

Today, anyone can run a surf school, a surf clinic or a surf camp. One single question remains, though. Are contemporary surf academies following the necessary requirements, rules and guidelines for their unique outdoor sports activity?

The International Surfing Association (ISA) - world governing body for the sport of surfing - has a complete set of requirements for registered surf schools, i.e., for surf schools that play by the rules.
National surfing federations should also enforce the ISA guidelines, but that doesn't happen on a planetary basis. There's a general feel that there are too many surf schools in the coastlines, and that some of them don't respect others out in the water.

Local surf coaching programs are rare. Australia leads the way with courses recognized by the ISA. The world governing authority for surfing runs its own schemes, and underlines that "an ISA Instructor must be a minimum of 18 years of age to instruct without supervision".
So, if you're about to open a surf school or want to improve your current business, check out the main issues in the official surf school rulebook by ISA:

1. Surf Schools must have the following equipment: soft-core surfboards with soft fins for beginners, wetsuits, helmets, water resistant sunscreen, comprehensive first aid kit, uniformly colored rash vests for participants, area indicators, flags or markers, whistle, rescue board and mobile phone;

2. Surf Schools must have an emergency plan;

3. Surf Schools must report accidents;

4. Surf Schools must follow a 1:8 coach and student ratio;

5. Surf School instructors must teach the philosophy of one person per wave;

6. Surf School instructors must teach the basic rules of surf etiquette;

7. Surf School instructors must never leave a group in the water unattended for any reason;

8. Surf School instructors should share the basic techniques of paddling, take-off, trimming and turning, in seven skill requirements and class levels: Never seen board before (Class 1), Ability to paddle board in flat water (Class 2), Paddle on to broken waves (Class 3), Ability to ride white water standing (Class 4), Catch unbroken wave and turn in either direction (Class 5), Ability to perform carving cut-back (Class 6) and Ability to produce carving turns, and cope with re-entries (Class 7);

Check the complete "Obligations of a Registered Surf School" by ISA.

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