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World gathers in Bali for surf instructor symposium

Sharing knowledge © ISA/Tim Hain



ISA Updates

Inaugural ISA International Surf Instructor Symposium Wraps Up in Bali

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 25 May, 2015 - Kuta-Bali:  After an intense but stoke filled six days of mixed classroom and beach activities, the inaugural ISA International Surf Instructor Symposium has now been completed, with 23 participants representing 11 different countries (Argentina, Austria, Germany, Guam, Indonesia, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Sri Lanka and Sweden having participated in the first ISA Level 1 Surf Coaching course ever conducted in Bali.

With Bali long being the center of surfing in the SE Asian region, surf schools and surf guides are numerous, but still without any governing department issuing and enforcing standards for the instructors and the schools, who are ultimately responsible for the safety and lives of their students.  

So in an effort to create an example for not only Bali and Indonesia but other Asian countries to follow, the ISA, the Rip Curl School of Surf, and the Asian/Indonesian Surfing Championships got together and created the ISA International Surf Instructor Symposium, the goal of which was to provide the participants with the opportunity to complete the requirements needed in order to receive the highest international standard available for surf instructors, the ISA Level 1 Surf Coaching certification.  

There is no other surf instructor/coaching program available that is recognized and accepted worldwide, only the ISA Surf Coaching certification.

In the ISA Level 1 Surf Coaching Course certification program, the students attended two full days of classroom and beach training by Australia’s Jamo Borthwick, then a two day Surf Rescue/CPR/First Aid course (Bronze Medallion) taught by Bali’s Surf Lifeguard Department (Balawista), and finally two days of on-the-job training with real students at the Rip Curl School of Surf, which gave them a head start on the 20 hours of practical training need to complete their certificate requirements.

Borthwick hails from the Gold Coast of Australia, and in addition to running his own Walking on Water Surf School, travels internationally to teach courses such as these on a regular basis.  He is an ISA and Surfing Australia Level 2 Surf Instructor, SUP Instructor, Level 1 Judge, and Level 1, 2, 3 Surf Coach in addition to other qualifications.

This was Borthwick’s first ever trip to Bali, and when asked about his first teaching experience here he replied, “It’s been really exciting to come here, working with and meeting new people, and introducing, building and developing a professional industry here that is up to the international standards as set by the ISA.  To have such a mix of nationalities and people doing this for so many reasons, it’s been really cool.  But I’m particularly excited about developing such a surf mecca into a professional surf school and surf instructing industry, and that’s what I think is most exciting.”

The ISA’s Alex Reynolds was equally enthusiastic and optimistic, saying “This has been an excellent week at the ISA International Surf Instructor Symposium, as the stoke levels were very high and everybody learned a lot.  From the ISA course itself, from the Balawista surf rescue course, and from the practical time spent on the beach with the Rip Cur Surf School, it’s all been great.  

"I know that we’ll have some very high quality instructors coming off this course, who will go back to their countries and jobs with a whole new level of knowledge and skill, having been trained up to the ISA standards for safety and quality.   I think we laid a great foundation for the ISA Coaching and Instructing program here in Bali, and that the water will be a safer place, now that we have instructors teaching up to the ISA standards for quality and safety.”

Chamika from Sri Lanka has been surfing for 7 years and has his own surf school, but this is the first time he’s ever taken a course like this.  He was almost overwhelmed by the experience, and very excited to take back what he had learned to his country.

“There are lots of marvelous experiences I have had here, learning from Jamo and CJ and the others,” he said.  

“So many mistakes I was making before have now been rectified, and when I go back to Sri Lanka I will share my experiences and recommend that the other schools there take this course.  They have not really been trained just like I wasn’t, so are making a lot of mistakes just like I was, so it’s very important that they come and take this course so we all can be doing a good job teaching our students. I really feel lucky that I joined this program, because now I feel about 200% more confident in being a teacher and being able to do lifesaving as well,” he explained.

The most physically demanding part of the week has defiantly the surf rescue course taught by Bali’s Surf Lifeguard Department (Balawista).  Led by retired chief Made Suparka, who has been in the Balawista since 1985 but forced to retire in 2011 when he turned 56, the course included a physical fitness test where the students were required to run 100 meters on the beach, then swim out through the waves around two lifeguards and back to the beach, then run the 100 meters back to the starting line in 5 minutes; in addition to learning board rescues, CPR, and first aid.  

Suparka was asked about what he thought was the most important thing for these students to do after this course, to which he replied, “It’s most important that these surf school students get re-certified every year, so they don’t forget.  They must take a refresher course every year.  And the other most important thing I can tell these students is, ‘Make sure that you save lives.  If somebody is in trouble, you must help them.’”  

Then he added, “Keep practicing, and then teach others.  When you teach others, that means that you are saving more lives.”  Suparka has been teaching all over Indonesia since 1978, from luxury places like the Shangrila Hotels in Jakarta and Surabaya to remote places like the Mentaiwai Islands and Irian Jaya, and his dream is that one day the Balawista will be all over Indonesia.  

One of the local participants was Dewa from the nearby island of Nusa Lembongan, who has taken other surf instruction programs during the last several years but says,  “This has been a whole new level of learning for me.  I love teaching, it’s my passion, and so to learn so many new things was really important for me.  My knowledge has increased at least 110 percent for sure, so I’m really happy as it will make me a much better teacher, and that’s my goal…to make people happy and keep them safe when I teach them.”

The Rip Curl School of Surf also provided on-the-job experience for the participants on Saturday and Sunday, practicing with regular students and even sharing in two stoke-filled surf sessions with kids from a local orphanage that are part of the Soul Surf Project here in Bali.

At the close of the symposium, Rip Curl School of Surf’s Jonni Deaker was asked for his evaluation of the program, to which he responded, “We were totally stoked with the ISA instructor program; the thoroughness and competence demonstrated by Jamo definitely shined a new light on the surf instructor certification process.  This has now been the first step for us in establishing a permanent ISA training centre in the South East Asia, and we will be working closely with the local government and the surfing community to bring standards and eventually regulations to the surf school industry; something that we all know is very much needed here and throughout the Asian region.”  

The goal of the ISA, the Rip Curl School of Surf, and the Asian/Indonesian Surfing Championships in creating this symposium was to define and set a standard for safety and quality for all surf schools, surf guides, and surf camps to follow.  All levels of surfers in the water should be able enjoy the sport of surfing together, having been trained by instructors that not only know how to teach surfing properly but also know how to assess wave and beach conditions and perform rescues to save lives when necessary. 

A big thanks goes out those that contributed to the symposium; Rip Curl SEA and Rip Curl School of Surf for their conference room and surf school facilities, Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia for refreshing drinks throughout the symposium, Swich for healthy and delicious sandwiches each day, Beach Hut Sunscreen for their sunscreen and support, Fav Hotels and Grandmas Hotels for accommodations, AntaVaya Leisure Travels for travel assistance, the Indonesian Surfing Championships and the Asian Surfing Championships for organization and media output, and to Surftime Magazine for media exposure.


Tim Hain

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