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SHARING SURFING: TEACHING THE BASICS OF WAVE RIDING

Summer will be upon us in a matter of weeks. Are you ready for crowded line-ups, lifeguard whistle noise pollution, knee high dribblers and beach umbrella madness? Don’t forget that guy, the one you haven’t seen all winter; well now he’s back in the water. Not only is he in the water, he’s yelling at you for no apparent reason, at your home break nonetheless. You gotta love it. I’m sure you’re thinking of some of your own nightmarish chaotic visions as well. In any event, summer in all its glory is on the way whether we like it or not.

Now, a lot of surfers grumble like this about the summer season. Personally I think there is much more positive going on than negative. Early sunrise stretching on the beach, glassy warm water surf, happy hour bike rides with my girlfriend and breezy evenings on the Asbury boardwalk.

During the summer months I also spend a good amount of my time getting people in the water and teaching them the basic skills needed to pursue surfing. One of the greatest gifts that I’ve received in my life is surfing. So my personal philosophy? Share surfing.

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My parents got me my first board when I was 11 years old at Grog’s Surf Palace in Seaside Heights. Jerry Mango sold me a 5’5” used Gary “Kong” Elkerton by Hot Stuff. The reason I remember Jerry’s name was because he gave me a few lessons to get me started on my first board. He later mentored me, helping me at local contests and hooking me up with some of my first sponsors. Surf lessons had a positive impact on my life and my surfing experience. It gave me a head start, endowing me with some invaluable pointers and insight. Without Jerry’s guidance I would have had to learn these basics on my own through painstaking trial and error. So my hope has always been to share a bit of what was given to me with others. Each one, teach one as they say.

The fact is no one can teach you how to surf. It can’t be done. You learn to surf by making a commitment. Surfing is a relationship. It’s a marriage. You’re dedicated to learning to ride waves, for better or worse conditions. For years I was in the water everyday possible, no matter what Mother Nature was throwing at me. Anything from 8 to 10 foot “victory at sea”, perfect chest high tubes, knee high mush and even dead flat conditions. I made it a point to show up. I was and still am as committed a partner as ever in my relationship with the sea.

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The wisdom I’ve gained from over 25 years of riding waves has given me the ability to offer eager learners the basic tools and knowledge, giving them a head start on their personal surfing journey. I started passing on the gift of surfing over fifteen years ago and I’m blessed to have met so many people from all walks of life.

I never have any expectations when I take a new student in the water except to give them a good first experience and have fun. I started surfing because it was fun, so I’m always looking to pass on that joy of riding a wave to my students. The smiles I see on people’s faces when they ride a wave for the first time brings me back to my first summer learning to surf. With each person I take out on a surfboard, I get a chance to time-travel backwards to my early days in the ocean.

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I can’t promise anyone that they are going to become an amazing surfer. Where people take their surfing ultimately rests on their own level of dedication and will to strive. I can pass on more than a handful of useful tips and tools to accelerate your learning curve. Students I have taught may have only surfed for one day and I’m sure they’ll remember that day the rest of their lives. Others have become “surfers”, in the water as each swell hits.

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Whether someone is just looking to have a onetime experience or wants to become a great surfer is not important to me. What I care about is offering what I can, bringing happiness to others through the amazing experience of catching waves.

Come get some lessons.

Contact Shawn Zappo at 732-403-7382. For more info click here

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