Surfing is not taught; The Surf Continuum wants to change that.

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Editor’s note: This article is brought to you by our friends at The Surf Continuum.

You hardly need to be told that surf education is in bad shape. Any seasoned surfer who has seen the groups of instructors and students prepare to paddle knows the feeling of dread that accompanies such a sight as one prepares for potential indoor chaos, falls and worse. Again.

For many, “surf school” has become entertainment rather than education. Instead of taking the time to hammer out the basics such as paddling technique, board control and etiquette, students are rushed to the finish line of getting up because that is the experience to they have learned to expect. And that’s a problem, because students who don’t build a basic base won’t have the skills to surf themselves, but often try, earning the scorn of surfers around them who would rather watch and laugh than ‘to help.

Surf Continuum wave control

Exploring the waves of Southern California. Photo: The Surfing Continuum.

Foam boards are often another problem. Although they are a great introductory tool for beginners, they eventually become a hindrance to progress. Sure, the highly buoyant foam board does wonders in providing stability and ease of paddling, but this comes at the expense of control, both paddling and learning to execute a good bottom turn. Plus, when graduation from raw foam never happens, the developing surfer misses the joy of owning and riding well-made gear, an important part of what surfing is for many of us. . That’s not to say that all surf schools are bad. There’s a lot of it for the purpose of training surfers for life, but often a lot is sacrificed in the name of business and giving students the experience they want – standing up.

sit turn surf continuum

Video analysis is one of the many tools available to The Surf Continuum students. Photo: The Surfing Continuum.

However, surf coaching doesn’t have to be that way. It’s something Chris and Evan Menen of The Surf Continuum, a surf school based in Montauk, New York and Southern California, are trying to get across. Not too long ago, they were both immersed in the drudgery of teaching surfing serially until “our conscience was stung”, as Chris puts it. “We used to laugh about all the near misses and bad surfing,” says Evan, “but in our hearts we knew it was really uncool. It’s not safe and it’s degrading what makes surfing so special. So they decided to start over, to do things differently this time, and founded The Surf Continuum, a totally different way of teaching surfing.

Coach Chris Coach Evan

Coach Chris and Coach Evan post in front of Long Island’s last sandbar. Photo: Mikey DeTemple

To be honest, “surf school” doesn’t quite cover what The Surf Continuum is or what they do for their students. Yes, they teach surfing, but the coaching program, or “community” is probably a better way to describe what Chris and Evan have created. The philosophy of The Surf Continuum is that getting up and riding a wave should be earned rather than given. “The feeling is great, but doing it yourself is so much better,” says Chris. In this way, Chris and Evan see themselves as guardians of enthusiasm, teaching beginner surfers the right surfing mentality as well as skills, and helping intermediate and advanced surfers in their constant quest for self-improvement.

On the coaching side, they offer one-on-one sessions for all levels of surfers, where one can get targeted coaching feedback that caters to the surfer where they are at. Beyond teaching in the water, Chris and Evan have created an extensive library of online course materials, such as video breakdowns of surfing technique, interactive e-books, and monthly Q&As with students.

They even started a podcast, where they talk about improving surfing and generally spread the enthusiasm. You certainly don’t have to be in Montauk or Southern California to benefit from their surf lessons. With regular surf trips to destinations around the world, both as close as Baja California in Mexico and as far away as the desert breaking points of Morocco, Chris and Evan seek to instill a love of the adventure and finding new waves – an integral part of the surfing experience. They even take the time to shape custom boards for students with an emphasis on designs that respond to the student where they are, and give them an edge over the aforementioned mass-produced foams.

Coach Evan Surf Continuum

Train Evan with a new 5’8″ Pescadora. Photo: Madeline Javier

The name “The Surf Continuum” stands for the whole process of surfing – the cycle of paddling, catching one wave, coming back down and catching another. “Ninety percent of surfing is about paddling, positioning and spending time in the water. But the emphasis in surf schools and surfing in general is to ride the wave,” says coach Chris. “If you’re not having fun in the process, why are you surfing?”

To stay up to date, follow The Surf Continuum on Instagram or Facebook, and check out their membership options here.

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