Surf’s up in Australia

Siobhan O’Halleran speaks to surf instructor Tim Boulenger (known as ‘Tahiti Tim’) about how the sport he loves became his day job, and his advice for successful surfing in Australia.

How did you become a surf instructor?

Growing up on an island surrounded by water, the most popular things to do were to go surfing or to go fishing. I wanted to be able to make a living by doing something I love. Becoming a surf instructor was my way to stay in the surf all day. I studied at Southern Cross University in Queensland and then completed what all our surf coaches have to do.

This involved a physical assessment held at Bondi Beach (demonstrating swimming and surfing ability and level of fitness), completing a Level 1 Surf Coaching Course with Surfing NSW which includes 20 voluntary practical hours at a registered surf school, as well as the APOLA (Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association) Ocean Safety Surf Coach Award (or bronze medallion through a surf lifesaving club), Advance Resuscitation and Senior First Aid Course.

What does a typical day involve?

  • Up with the sun
  • Big breakfast
  • Surf check
  • Surf or teach people to surf
  • Big lunch
  • Afternoon nap
  • Surf check
  • Surf or teach people to surf
  • Big dinner
  • Watch a movie
  • Sleep
  • Dream of surfing

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Sharing the stoke of surfing (‘stoke’ is a term used by surfers to attempt to describe the amazing buzz the sport gives you!).

Can you give us a brief step-by-step guide for beginners?

  • Choose a big board (minimum 8ft)
  • Find a wide sand bank (shallow water)
  • Walk out to the white water till you are waist deep
  • Pick your wave, lie down on the board into a stable position, paddle till you catch the wave, stabilise your board by pushing your chest high then stand up and keep your balance.

And the best piece of advice I can give to first-time surfers is to learn to read the waves, ocean and the beach first as this will make it easier to surf.

Where do you think is the best place for beginners to surf in Australia?

Bondi Beach! Although beaches are dependent on the surf conditions thus forever changing, so it is always best to do some research on where you plan to go surfing. Also I recommend that beginners go surfing on a patrolled beach.

What about for more experienced surfers?

Maroubra beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs often has more powerful waves as it is more opened to the ocean. Most beaches are suitable for experienced surfers but it is always good to get local knowledge before heading out.

Do you think surfing is suitable for all ages?

Surfing is fun, refreshing and feels good no matter how old or young you are. It’s just a matter of finding the suitable wave for your surfing level.

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