If you’re thinking about something active to do as a family these holidays, why not try surfing? Shaka Surf School offers surf lessons for all ages and stages –5 years old to 65 and more, beginner to advanced – and encourages family groups.
It’s a family business run by Dave McGregor and his sons Cuan and Kye. All have national surfing titles behind their names – two SA Longboard Champs titles each for Dave and Kye and one for Cuan. A veteran journalist, two years ago Dave made the move from the keyboard to the surfboard. Although he’s still called on as a freelancer as an experienced writer and photographer, he’s glad to have finally committed to the ocean.
“My kids are fourth-generation surfers,” Dave says. “I’ve been surfing since I was 5 – so for 45 years. It’s so nice to be able to share that experience and I’m blessed able to turn my passion into my business.”
The school has been operating full-time for the past two years, but Dave has been coaching part-time for much longer. He says he gets the biggest kick from having people walk up to him and say, “You taught us to surf five years ago – thanks!”
“It’s lekker when kids are on the water and passionate about it,” Dave says. “That’s when I feel like I’ve achieved something – when a kid has their own board and they’re riding it.”
Dave says surfing can be a great family acitivity. “It’s not like other sports where you stand on touchline and shout for your kid to score – you’re out there on the waves with them.”
His own boys need no motivation to wake up early: “In our house, everybody gets up at 5 to go and surf.”
Safety first is Shaka Surf School’s grounding principle, so while they aim for a morning session and an afternoon session in a day, if conditions aren’t right, they won’t take surfers out.
“It’s about having a good experience as opposed to getting people in and out the water,” Dave says.
Instructors are in the water with learners – either standing in the shallows with the beginners and younger kids – or out on a board with the more advanced surfers, guiding them on to the face of the wave.
While Surfing SA’s safety guidelines stipulate one instructor to six learners, Shaka works on 1:3 or even 1:2. “Plus we’re physically in the water, not standing on the shore. We pride ourselves on being professional,” Dave says.
“It’s important to work within a person’s abilities and experience,” he says. “With the little kids we hold on to their boards until they’re ready for us to let go.”
The school uses softboards in line with International Surfing Association (ISA) standards: “With softboards you don’t get injured by the board.”
All equipment is supplied – boards and wetsuits. All you need to bring is sunscreen and a bottle of drinking water. Instruction packages are cheaper than single lessons, with a substantial discount for five or more lessons.
“December’s a good time to learn to surf,” Dave says. “The surf’s quite small.”
The school will offer lessons at both Port Alfred and Kenton these December holidays – with Cuan based at Kenton’s Blue-Flag main beach and Dave at his local, East Beach. To book a lesson, call him at 082 335 4764 or Facebook-message at Shaka Surf School @East.Beach.surfing99 or DM @shaka_surfschool
SPECIAL OFFER FOR ONE LUCKY GROCOTT’S MAIL READER AND A FRIEND!
Shaka Surf School is offering one free lesson for a Grocott’s Mail reader plus a half-price lesson for a friend or family member. To be in the running, send an email with SHAKA SURF SCHOOL in the subject line. Address it to firstname.lastname@example.org and in the body of the email put the answer to this question by midday on Monday 10 December 2018:
When is the next Spring Tide (ie the highest and lowest) in Port Alfred?
* The prize is for the lesson only and does not include any other costs or transport.
* The prize is not transferable.
* The lesson will on a day and at a time suitable for both Shaka Surf School and the main prizewinner.
* The half-prize lesson is intended for a friend or family member of the free lesson winner and must be taken at the same time as the prizewinner’s lesson.
* The lesson is given under the terms and conditions stipulated by Shaka Surf School, and at a venue determined by the surf school.