Learning to surf is no longer just a summer activity

By Steve Gow

While most people in autumn are consumed with thoughts of turkey dinners, pumpkin spice lattes and finding the perfect costume for Halloween, Nico Manos is thinking about surfing.

After all, summer may be officially over but as the East Coast Surf School co-owner says, there is still plenty of good waves to surf in the fall.

“Most people probably know that it is something to do in the fall but they have other commitments like school and jobs and summer vacation is sort of over,” says Manos. “So that maybe restricts people even though the weather can be nice.”

For that reason, East Coast Surf School continues to offer lessons right through until the weather makes it far too challenging to schedule. In the case of this year, Manos says that should take the school through October and possibly into November on an on-call basis.

“The systems do tend to get pretty close,” adds Manos about the onset of winter in November. “And they’re associated with a lot of wind and so scheduling people in and then cancelling and rescheduling can become a little more difficult.”

Until then however, Manos says for first-time surfers, conditions can be fantastic at Lawrencetown Beach with steady waves, fewer people and patient, experienced coaches.

To that end, Manos adds that most people who seek out lessons during this time of year tend to be visiting students who are experiencing Nova Scotia for the first time but he adds they also get all sorts of groups seeking team-building activities.

“It’s a good team-builder and a good activity for meshing with new groups or clubs or students and not a ton of people will likely have experience surfing,” adds Manos, who is also the province’s first and only professional surfer. “So if a group or workplace decides to go on a surfing excursion, everybody’s new so it lets everybody’s guard down a little bit.”

Running lessons since 2005, East Coast Surf School focuses on technique, safety and ocean awareness with lessons including the surf board and wet suit rental, free parking and of course — a professional instructor.

“I think the student’s goal is generally to stand up on a wave and ride it and that’s one of our goals too,” notes Manos, who runs the school with his wife, Jill. He adds each student should obtain a basic understanding of the equipment, how to read waves and catch them, and be able to walk away with the confidence to surf on their own.

“For our instructors,” adds Manos, “An official goal is having the students stoked (and) knowing that somebody’s had a good time and the next day they’ve taken the time to log onto the internet and described what a good time they had.”

For those students who do take lessons with East Coast Surf School, they will also be joining a quickly-growing community of surfing enthusiasts. Although COVID-19 put a slight damper on the numbers this past year, surfing in Nova Scotia has exploded in the past few years — and not just in the hot summer months.

“I don’t know if it’s that the winter numbers have increased tenfold at the same rate as the summer but definitely explosion is a word that would suit the increase I suppose,” notes Manos. “It’s definitely more than doubled and it’s probably more than tripled too.”

For more information on East Coast Surf School, visit the website.

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