Oh no, this isn’t about ‘how to surf’ but about ‘how to surf’. What I mean is that reading this will not teach you how to catch and ride a wave, but hopefully it will inform you on how to connect with a great group of people who can teach you how to do just that.
Dakar’s coasts are filled with surfers of all levels, but figuring how to become on of them can be a bit tricky if you’re a newbie (ahem, like me) to this world. There are several surf schools, each one with its strengths and core values. Based on recommendations from friends, we went with Ecole SURF Attitude for our son – and one year in, I am very happy with our choice.
If you’re interested in diving in (ha!) to the world of surfing with Ecole SURF Attitude, here are 10 helpful tips.
1. First, this business is run by experienced, passionate surfers. Just think about those stereotypes and understand that planning and communication may not be their strength.
2. Secondly, this business is run by experienced, passionate surfers. There is no one better to teach your child (or you!) how to surf. They have taught and coached hundreds of surfers of all ages and levels. I can guarantee they have taught people less skilled/in shape than you to surf.
3. Their team, including instructors, is largely multilingual. So whether you are calling, emailing, texting or hollering from your board – English, French, Wolof, Spanish, Italian… amoul problème. As a parent, this was particularly helpful for me in getting information beforehand but especially knowing that my child could communicate easily with any of the instructors while out in the water. More on that later…
4. How to book a surf class? Check their Facebook page for the upcoming week’s schedule then call or SMS 77 034 34 34 to reserve your spot and find out when and where to meet. This means they will bring a wetsuit in your size, a board for you to use and schedule the appropriate number of instructors for your class. So if you reserve… show up! Don’t assume that just because you came last week that they know you plan to come again this week. Always confirm your plans by SMS and then honor your reservation.
5. Where do I go? Depending on the season, classes usually meet either at Plage du Virage or at Ngor beach by La Madrague Hotel. From there, you may take the Ecole SURF Attitude boat across towards Ngor Island or if the waves are right, just stay at Ngor beach.
6. What to bring? Not a whole lot! Wear a bathing suit that stays put as much as possible. A rash guard or tight t-shirt is a good idea. If the water is cool, they will provide the necessary wetsuits as part of your booking.
7. What to expect? If needed, you’ll put on your wetsuit. #firstthingsfirst Gentle warm-ups are done on the beach. Then you hit the waves with your instructor! Expect to be out for an hour.
If your child is the one learning to surf, you may have a slight panic attack the first time they get on a boat and head off into the deep blue without you. But truly parents, you don’t need to worry. These instructors have only ever lost three children. KIDDING. I’m kidding. Each child is assigned to a specific instructor (CPR + First Aid trained) and they take into account how well the child can swim, if they are used to being in the ocean, how skilled they are, etc… It’s not a one-on-one lesson, but to your child it will probably feel like one.
8. How much does it cost? A one-off lesson for an adult with all the gear provided is 15,000 CFA. But your better bet is to buy a ‘carnet’ or booklet that gives you 10 lessons at 20% off. (A monthly package for two classes per week is also available for 72,000 CFA.) There are also two children’s classes: Surfer Baby for ages 4 to 6 (70,000 CFA for 10 lessons) and Jardin des Vagues for ages 7 to 10 (80,000 CFA for 10 lessons).
9. And now… the big question. How long will it take me to learn how to surf? Obviously that depends on many factors, but the kiddos really do have us beat on this one. By starting them off young, like age 4, they haven’t yet ‘learned’ to be afraid of the ocean. Meanwhile, someone who is say, 37 years old, may have to first overcome those fears and become at ease in the waves. But a rough estimate would be 8 lessons for getting up and going. I will be able to confirm this shortly… stay tuned!
“Expect bruises, a deflated ego and a lot of frustration your first couple of classes. Experienced surfers make it look so easy but it takes time and patience to get there. You will not be Kelly Slater by the end of the month. But don’t give up! From the first time you stand up, to the first green wave you catch, going from Virage to Ngor and Secret will bring you great joy. To the hooting and hollering of a great wave, to that amazing feeling only a surfer knows… These will get you through the challenges and the team at ESA can help you progress the right way.” — Jane