Once ready, surfers stood on their boards, expressions of concentration on their faces as they struggled to stay steady.
“Timing to catch a wave because they all jump up way too early.”
That’s what Jeff Norman, owner of Rossignol Surf Shop, says is one of the biggest challenges for new surfers.
Norman, who’s been teaching surfing for about 12 years, is giving lessons this year at Summerville Beach.
While the shop is at White Point Beach Resort, things are happening offsite this year because of the rebuilding of the resort, following a fire in November 2011.
The surf camp happens two days a week, with a morning and afternoon session, and classes are two hours.
Beginner and intermediate surfers stay at Summerville, while the more advanced surfers go other places, such as White Point or Western Head, says Norman. He says the more experienced students have been doing the sport for about two or three years.
Norman says he has more than 40 students this summer, which he says is up from previous years.
Someone completely new to surfing will begin by learning the basics, such as safety, how to paddle and how to do a popup, among other things. Once in the water, instructors tell students which waves to take and tell them to stand up.
“Some catch right on, other ones it takes a while,” he says. “But it’s fun for them. They’re all having fun.”
The first lesson for a beginner would involve finding a properly fitting suit and board. After that, the group discusses the safety aspects of the sport.
“The first day they’re with the instructor pretty much all the time,” says Norman.
As for swimming skills, Norman says students don’t necessarily have to be strong swimmers. Surfers are attached to boards that float, wetsuits help provide buoyancy and the water is only about chest deep.
On days when the water is calm and surfing is not an option, students work on other skills like paddling.
“There are also days when it’s going to be too big,” says Norman. “The beginners, when it’s too big, they can’t go in.”
At least not with surfboards, Norman adds. They might be able to body surf. But if the surf is too big and therefore conditions dangerous, students stay out of the water.
“This year unfortunately we have to cancel sometimes because we’re based out of Summerville right at the beach, and we don’t have a shelter,” Norman says.
He says because the shop is mobile this year, they also go to Lockeport, where there are 15 students. The average age range of students in the surf camps is from about 12 to 15 years old.
In addition to the surf camps, the shop offers lessons the other days of the week.
Norman found surfing through working as a lifeguard and spending time at the beach when he was younger. Since then, the sport has grown tremendously, he says.
He says now when waves are good cars are lined up at Western Head. Norman suggests three reasons for the sport’s increasing popularity – there are good waves, there are surf shops and there are suits that keep people warm all year.
“Besides being fun, it makes you feel good,” says Norman about the sport.
“You’re out there with a bunch of friends having fun in the ocean.”
For more information about Rossignol Surf Shop, call 902-683-2530 or visit http://www.surfnovascotia.com/ourshop.htm.