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  • Writer's pictureMark Kelly

How to become a Surf Coach - Georgia's Journey

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

We talk to ISA Level 1 Surf Coach, Georgia.

You've been surfing a while now and you want to figure out how you can do it more, travel, share your passion with others and still have money to feed yourself!

Well listen up folks we are going to let you know exactly how you can do that!

What better way to let you know the route to the best job in the world, your ticket to international travel and all year round stoke, than to hand you over to someone with first hand experience of qualifying as a surf coach this very season?

Take it away Georgia!

So Georgia, tell us about yourself.

I'm 26 and originally from Australia. I've been living in the UK for almost two years and recently made the move to Newquay from London.

My family home is on a beautiful island off the coast of Victoria called Phillip Island. It's super small, really untouched and has some incredible uncrowded beaches. I've grown up by the sea; family time was mostly spent fishing, surfing, swimming or riding the horses at the beach.

My first job was for a local surf school - shout out to the amazing Island Surfboards! I instructed there for just under five years with just some in house training from the guys. Then I moved to the city for university and started working full time for seven insane/incredible years, in both Melbourne and then London.

At the beginning of this summer I made the decision to return to the coastal lifestyle, and to one of my all time favourite jobs.

Being from a slightly warmer climate, why did you want to become a surf coach in the UK?

I fell in love with a Englishman... And after over a year of being away from home and the ocean, a summer in Cornwall surf coaching, instead of sitting at my office desk in London was a pretty easy decision.

Georgia in action

In the month leading up to tests I started to build up my fitness and brushed up on my first aid. In both courses I knew there were physical assessments - surfing ability, swim test and a series of board rescues. I was in the pool and on a board as much as possible to build up my strength... my previous fitness regime had included walking to the tube and pushing keyboard buttons!

In addition to the physical assessments, the ISA certificate required 20 hours of shadowing surf lessons to ensure new coaches have a solid knowledge of beach safety and lesson planning/execution. The Newquay Activity Centre (NAC) kindly allowed me to shadow their team of skilled coaches (including 4 Elements Adventures own Mark Kelly!) on surf lessons and military lifeguard training sessions. This is offered to all trainees which really is an awesome bonus.

To be able to teach surfing, both the lifeguard and ISA certificates are required to become qualified, they really go hand in hand and help to prepare you for the job.

I successfully passed both courses and got my 20 hours signed off within a month. My time shadowing at NAC led to them offering me work and I'll be internationally qualified for the next year.

What are the best things about surf coaching?

The people; who are willing to try something new, learn the correct way and develop their understanding of beach safety - I really respect that. Seeing how much fun students have and the buzz they get when they stand up on their first wave is so good. Working outside on a beautiful day and having a healthy lifestyle are also great aspects of the job.

And the worst?

The tan lines! Wetsuit tans are not a good look.

Are you temped to also become a coasteering guide or SUP instructor in the future?

A lot of surf coaches do these activities also but I'm currently loving the surf lessons so much, however I wouldn't rule out becoming a guide in the future. Newquay Activity Centre have allowed me to shadow and assist on both coasteering and the SUP sessions and they are really fun!

What advice would you give anyone that wants to work as a surf coach?

Most surf schools will always welcome people to come along and shadow coaches during lessons - I would really recommend this to anyone considering the career change as it gives you a real understanding of what's required. Invest in a good wetsuit, you'll spend most of your day in it. Take the time to research the course requirements, speaking with Mark allowed me to prepare and train for the tests properly.

What are your plans for the Autumn/ winter season?

I'm looking into visas at the moment for a few different countries. The plan is to utilise the full term of my internationally recognised qualifications and continue to coach. Thinking about ditching the wetsuit and treating myself to a warmer climate!

Haha! The dream! Well all the best in chasing down the Endless summer! Thank you Georgia and all the best for the season!

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