The best Job in the World? Meet Max

Written by on 4th December 2013
Published in Fitness, Surfing, Team Surfers
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We like to personalise the whole experience of booking a surfing holiday with us. So here is the second interview with one of our reps and surf instructors around the globe.

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Meet Max Hepworth-Povey, Surf School Manager in Newquay in the Summer and Trip Leader in Costa Rica for the Winter.

  1. Name and job: Max Hepworth-Povey, Surf School Manager at Errant Surf School  and Trip Leader and Surf Coach in Costa Rica
  2. Sum yourself up in three words: Finding the balance
  3. Sum your job up in three words: Living the dream
  4. How long have you surfed and what do you love about the sport? Being from Newquay I’d like to tell the cliche’ story of my dad pushing me into waves aged 5 and being in the ocean ever since. However I can’t really remember my first surf, I remember taking a friends board out at Fistral that was way to small for me when I was about 10 and standing up on whitewater, but I found it really hard work so clung to my bodyboard for a couple of years and my trusty skateboard. My mates all started to either play rugby or surf when I got to secondary school and I got battered playing rugby, so I saved up my lunch money and pocket money and bought myself a board aged around 12 from Ocean Magic. I didn’t progress much until I got a moped and could go on little surf trips around the Newquay area – quite a big deal in the middle of Winter with a surfboard under your arm and then I  started to fall in love with the feeling of just cruising along waves. I didn’t even try to do turns and a good surf for me would consist of me pumping and cruising along waves all the way to the beach. This lasted for a few years, just surfing with friends, sleeping in cars and surfing around the country and then I started getting a little better when surfing with sponsored up friends like Jeeka, travelling further, meeting new people and getting fitter as a by product of the surfing, which was great. It’s basically a combination of all of these things which makes me love surfing.
  5. So what is ‘surf coaching’? Teaching someone to surf, or surf better by using experience and theory. You’ve got to be able to talk the talk and walk the walk. 
  6. What made you decide to become a surf coach? I went to uni, got a job in Public Relations in Cornwall, did the London thing for a bit and then got a little unmotivated. I realised that my true potential only shines when doing something I love, regardless of salary. So I thought about what I could do that I loved and make a living out of it; cue surf coaching! I’ve been doing it a few years now and genuinely think that I have as much fun as the people I’m teaching. The stoke on one of my students faces when they stand up, or when an intermediate catches a green wave gives me a huge amount of satisfaction.It’s the best job in the world.
  7. How did you get into it? Really easily through Errant, I just did this Surf Instructor Course, et voila.
  8. Apart from surfing, what do you tell your students to do to stay fit when they aren’t in the water? EIM. Everything in moderation. Exercise regular, but don’t binge. Eat healthily but don’t beat yourself up over a McDonalds. Don’t bother with diets, just listen to what your body is telling you but remember that the fitter you are, the better you will get at surfing and therefore the more fun it will be. Yoga is also very good, as is rowing and try to read surf fitness blogs.
  9. How is coaching in small surf different than big surf? Small waves are great for beginners to master the basics in a safe environment focusing on perfect form and technique, but the lessons can drag if the waves are very inconsistent. You also get colder quicker as you’re not moving around so much. Big surf is great for beginners who aren’t used to the paddle fitness to catch waves as the power in the wave will propel them forward. However it’s usually more dangerous in the bigger stuff with rip currents etc, so I’ll just make sure I’m focused.
  10. In your surf coaching career what is the hardest thing you’ve had to deal with yet? The craziest/ most pathetic thing was when I stood on a weaver fish and fainted whilst doing a private lesson with an 8 year old boy. It was his first time surfing so he was pretty nervous so I went over the safety stuff, headed out to demonstrate how to catch a wave in the prone position and then felt the most insane pain in my foot, started screaming, he started screaming and then I fainted walking up the beach. Ha ha. The poor kid handled it well and the lifeguards took the mickey out of me for the hour it took to sort out. The kid was a star though and after one of my colleagues took him out in my place, he booked onto a week course. Legend!
  11.   What are a couple of the most common mistakes the average surfer makes that keeps he or she from catching more waves? Getting a board too small for you. You need to be honest about your ability with whoever is selling you a board. If you’re a newbie or intermediate surfer you will get SO much more enjoyment out of surfing if you have a nice buoyant board. Also paddling unnecessarily. Don’t waste energy paddling for a weak wave or on the shoulder of a wave that you’re not going to catch. You’ll expel more energy doing so and get frustrated. Get yourself into position where the wave is most powerful so paddling into it is a breeze.
  12. What are some basic tips you can give the everyday surfer to improve their basic surfing? Milk every wave for everything it’s worth. The last part of the wave which breaks or closes out is where you are most likely to do your best turn (check the sequence below which confirms this – first turn average, second turn good!). You will also get fitter by default as you are giving yourself further to paddle after every wave. Also surf as much as you can – middle of Winter, small Summer days, just get in there!
  13. How important is confidence to surfing well? It’s good to be confident and push yourself, but know your limits. Confidence should be more mental by envisaging yourself doing what it is you aim to do. Literally picture yourself taking the drop of that big wave and then go for it. If you can’t picture yourself doing it, you’re probably going to hesitate last minute and end up hurting yourself more than if you went for the wave and fell off.
  14. In Newquay you help out at the Grom Club, helping young surfers catch more waves and surf them better, what are your thoughts on wave etiquette for younger surfers fitting into increasingly crowded lineups? Instead of trying to go for everything, let a few waves go and cheer someone on who’s having a good wave. You’ll be surprised how it can change the line up, turning it from a sour agro vibe to a fun wave-sharing frenzy. You may also make someones day. Pro Surfer Oli Adams gave me a “YEEEEOW” once when I was NEARLY  getting barrelled at Fistral when I was about 16. I went home stoked and still remember it like it was yesterday.
  15. What are the three best things about Newquay? North Fistral Low Tide, North Fistral High Tide and Tolcarne Wedge. Oh and also the surfing heritage, its awesome to be a part of the UK’s original surf town.
  16. And what are you looking forward to in Costa Rica? Surfing in Boardshorts. You can’t beat it and end up surfing so much more. Also fresh coconuts.
  17. What’s the surf like in Newquay? There are some really really good days in Newquay. You can get perfect empty waves. But then you can get flat spells, which drive the locals crazy, they don’t seem to last too long though and there’s usually always something to surf for the desperate.
  18. Can you get barrelled? Low tide Fistral you can for sure. Actually you can in the Bay – Check this picture of Harry Timson out.
  19. Can learner surfers learn safely? Yeah, the surf school in Newquay is on a Southerly facing beach so is sheltered nicely. We also have our own ‘area’ of the beach to teach on.
  20. Describe the Max experience, what can a newbie surfer expect from a 2 hour lesson with you? You can expect a heavy safety briefing, a stern but fun approach to learning how to catch and ride waves and then praise when you’re smashing the goals I set you. I keep in touch with heaps of the people I teach as well and am always happy to give tips and help people buy their first surfboard.

Max has travelled the world surf coaching and is off to Costa Rica for the Winter. So if you fancy the Max experience this Winter, take a look at our surfing holidays in Costa Rica here, or wait til Summer and join us in Newquay. If Max has inspired you to become a surf coach, check out our courses here.

– Max as stoked as the student!

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– Surfing in the cold Winter days whatever the weather

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Still skateboarding at the ripe old age of…

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Incorporating Beach Yoga into Surf Lessons –

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Taking a personal approach to Surf Coaching –

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Milking every wave til the end –

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