A unique three-month Gap Year surfing adventure incorporating a 1,600km surfari on the southern tip of Africa combined with community work in townships along the way and culminating in internationally recognised qualifications in Surf Coaching and Beach Lifesaving kicked off this week.
Ticket to Ride, the brainchild of UK-based varsity graduates Will Hayler and Linley Lewis, saw its first group of nearly 20 riders arrive in Cape Town on 18 January for the experience of a lifetime that takes them to eight diverse coastal centres before wrapping up in sub-tropical Durban, South Africa’s ‘Surf City’.
Both keen surfers, Hayler and Lewis were inspired to start the venture by their own gap year adventures that took them to surfing destinations in South Africa, Australasia and Central America.
“We not only improved our surfing, the trip made us independent, gave us self-confidence and the will to ‘get up and go’," says Lewis. “People’s reactions to our trip made us realise that there is a real demand for similar experiences, so we earned surf coaching and lifeguard qualifications, did three months research in South Africa last year and after nine months of marketing in the UK, Ticket to Ride is up and running."
In Cape Town the budding surfers are being introduced to the basics of surf instruction by the country’s top professional surf coaches from the Kahuna Surfing Academy whose Dene Botha will also be the trainer and assessor for their Surfing South Africa (SSA) accredited Level 1 Surf Instructor course in Ballito at the end of March.
Following two weeks in the consistent waves of the Mother City, where they are staying in Kommetjie, the epicentre of surfing on the Cape Peninsula, visiting the tourist attractions from Table Mountain to Cape Point and performing community work with the Salesians Institute, the group travels through the spectacular Garden Route to Plettenberg Bay.
Further instruction from the International Surf School in the Plett beach breaks precedes the group’s visit to Jeffreys Bay where they spend two weeks exploring the legendary surf Mecca. Continuing their surfing development through the Jeffreys Bay Surf School, there are visits to local game parks and community work in the Pellsrus School while they hone their newly developed surfing skills with the J-Bay Surf Club.
Then its on to East London for a stay on the beach at Sugar Shack where SA Masters champion Andre Malherbe will introduce them to the delights of the Border region before sending them on to his brother David, the 1990 World Pro-Am champ, at Coffee Bay for a true African experience in the heart of the rural Transkei.
A week of uncrowded waves, warm water and involvement in community projects will etch itself in their memory banks ahead of the move to sub tropical Southern KwaZulu-Natal and another boost to their growing surf confidence from former world surfing champion Ant Brodowicz, along with the Ticket to Ride Surf Challenge and Beach Olympics at The Spot in Umtentweni.
Then it’s on to the business end of the adventure when the Riders complete the three day SSA Level 1 Surf Instructor’s course and learn the intricacies of surfboard manufacture in the idyllic surroundings of The Secret Spot at Shaka’s Rock, earn Basic Rescue or full Beach Lifeguard awards from the SA Lifeguard Academy in nearby Durban and practice their teaching skills on young locals from historically disadvantaged communities.
The epic adventure winds up with the legendary Palmboom surf family at Ansteys Backpackers on the Bluff, where the surf is never flat, the Durban nightlife is just around the corner and Clayton Surfboards can be visited for a custom surfboard built by one of SA’s best craftsmen.
Having learned to surf, participated in really worthwhile community projects and armed with globally recognised Surf Instructor and Beach Lifeguard qualifications, Ticket to Ride’s ‘Gap Year Surfing Adventures’ truly provides participants with the memories of a lifetime.
For further information on Ticket to Ride, including bookings for 2008 when two trips are planned, and details of their Wonder Breaks packages to Portugal and Mozambique, see their website: www.ttride.co.uk. Ticket to Ride is proudly sponsored by O'Neill and DaKine.