The best way to start surfing is in a school that is fitted to you and your goals. With the help of a competent teacher, you will learn the basic principles of waves and how to stand up on the board in quicker, easier e safe way.
However, choosing between so many surf schools available on the market can be a hard task. Therefore, here are some advice and variables to have in mind when deciding which school is the best for my interests.
1. Classes location: it is important to choose a school placed near your residence area. Spending less time in journeys allows and encourages you to practice more often, increasing the possibility of practicing in days with great conditions.
2. Licenses: surf schools must be registered in “Turismo de Portugal” as maritime and tourist operator. They also must be certificated by the Portuguese Surfing Federation and have a license assigned by the local captaincy. These licenses ensure that the surf school has got personal accidents insurances for clients and civil responsibility insurance.
3. Instructor’s qualification: this is the key point to ensure the quality of your surf classes. A capable and qualified instructor ensures a quick, fun and, more importantly, safe learning.
When searching for you surf school, try to find out what is the academic background of the person in charge of the school. A graduation in Sports Education, Health or any other similar area will provide him/her professionalism and responsibility in the schools management. Do not forget to also check the instructor’s work experience and academic background and if they have coach’s license assigned by the portuguese institute for sports, called “Instituto Português do Desporto e da Juventude (IPDJ)”
4. Classes operation: how are the surf classes planned? What is the instructor per students ratio? How long are the classes? Where do the classes happen and are safety conditions assured? Are the kids classes separated from the others? Never forget that even if you haven’t bought a private class, you should require that your lesson does not have a huge amount of student. The kids classes must always have more instructors per students than the other ones.
5. Facilities: Nowadays many surf schools maintain only an online “quarters”, in other words, they only have a website, phone contacts and social media. However, it is still important to own a physical space that can open to receive their clients. If you have the chance, visit the headquarters or other facilities of the school you are interested on, talk face-to-face to the manager and make your own evaluation.
It is very common schools facilities are nothing but a garage, warehouse or a small storage, especially in schools placed at the beach that use restaurant’s storage to keep their surf material. Be aware to how the material is arranged, because being organized is the principle for a qualified work.
6. Equipment: the quality of the equipment that the school provides to theirs students is also a crucial factor in the decision. Your performance and success will depend on the quality of the board and the wetsuit, not to mention comfort. In those cold days, you will appreciate a proper wetsuit without patches.
There are a big number of schools that use equipment purchased in big shopping areas. Despite the low costs, the quality is not recommended. A surf school that do not invest in good material will certainly have poor quality lessons, as equipment do not correspond to the student’s necessities.
7. Extra services: apart from de regular surf or body board lessons at the beach, there are schools offering other types of services, as fitness trainings adapted to surf, lessons shooting, technical analysis of your waves, trips along the country or even around the world. These and other activities will help you progress and improve your Surf experience.