George's Surf School is a Surfing England and ISA Centre of Excellence based in Polzeath, Cornwall. George and his team provide private surf lessons and immersive courses for both individuals and groups. We caught up with him to find out how he came to have his own surf school, and why surfing is a sport for everyone.
You have surfed and worked all over the world, why did you choose Cornwall to open your surf school? What makes it special for you?
I wanted to focus our coaching program on helping enthusiastic amateurs who already surfed and wanted to progress, as well as beginners and I was looking for a very specific wave in this respect. Whist I travelled all over the world for work I kept coming back to Polzeath; I am English and ultimately wanted to live and work at home in England. Moreover the English surf culture is very rich and has a great heritage, and I wanted to celebrate and help cultivate that.
Where are your favourite surf spots in Cornwall?
There are a few places that spring to mind. If I want to get away and get some head space I go to Sennen. There are a few spots in the Badlands that would also be on the list. The place that will always feel like my home wave is Trebarwith Strand as it was the first place I surfed in Cornwall. I like the crew that surf there and its wild unique backdrop.
Can anyone learn to surf?
Yes. The joy of surfing is that in the right hands with the right kit, on the right wave, it has an accessibility in sport that is unrivalled. We consider the term surfing with a very a broad spectrum - its a person with a board, riding a wave - and subsequently we help people discover that the experience is only a relevant as what it means to them. It's about helping people articulate their own relationship with the ocean and riding waves.
What qualities will enable people to progress at surfing?
Seeing the whole thing as a collaborative process is essential. From an emotional point of view I always say to people that they have to channel their determination into a positive aggression, the right attitude and achievable goals. Surfing is a long game and you need time in the water, but the right equipment and constantly working on your fitness (which is a natural consequence of surfing) will keep you progressing.
What's new for George's Surf School in 2017?
Back in 2013 we recognised there was a need for somewhere where local women could get together, surf and progress, so we founded the Polzeath Ladies Surf Club. We have refined this format for 2017 and so far it has been one of the highlights of the year. It's about creating a fun, accessible environment for local women to surf together every week and progress.
What other sports do you enjoy, when you are not surfing?
I have always loved sport and it's been so good to me professionally and emotionally. I love being in nature so skiing and snowboarding have been a constant throughout my life. When I want some time to myself out of the ocean I hit the golf course. I also play for The Mill House cricket team in Tintagel, which ticks all the boxes when it comes to the essence of sport as social and fun.
Away from surfing, where are your favourite places to visit in Cornwall?
The incredible thing about Cornwall is its diversity. I tend to resonate towards the water and love the myriad of coves that you will find on both the north and south coasts. There are too many beautiful ones to pick a favourite! Another highlight of my year is always The Port Eliot Festival at the end of July; in addition to all the action, the house and grounds of the estate are a very beautiful, tranquil place to be.