Tue, 7 July 2009

Twenty-five years earlier a fit and trim Richard Dog Marsh was taken down the same sand track and pot-holed tar section to the very same secret spot on the south coast. By Craig Jarvis

Twenty-five years of surfing, competing, travelling and working in the surf industry saw a slightly older, tanned and creased Dog return to one of his favourite haunts as part of the coaching team of the Red Bull Unleashed junior surfing project. Just like the last time, 25 years ago, the waves were pumping.

While we might have some of the best junior surfers in the world in our country, even the most talented of them could do with some coaching and insights from former WQS battlers. Dog was joined by Andy King. Making up the third party in the coaching triumvirate was Dan Ross, currently holding the WQS 2009 number one position.

Coaching methods were an interesting and varied mix of surf heats, fitness and psychological training and media training. Even Spike (bless his soul) from wavescape.co.za came along to give the kids a lesson on wave and swell forecasting. The opening video didn’t want to play, and Spike did half the 40 minute talk with his fly open, which made for interesting times for the young groms. Les Aupiais from Carte Blanche was there to give the youngsters some coaching in how to deal with the media.

The ultimate goal of the Unleashed project was to fast-track some of our top junior surfers onto the level of competition where they should be – be it WQS or the World Tour – and along the way the surfers who are not of the right character or skill level would be weeded out. This happened automatically and organically, as the lesser of the surfers started feeling the heat as better, more professional junior surfers upped the ante on all fronts.

The second day of surfing took place at a quiet little hidden away beach, far from the madding crowd, just to continue along the cliché –ridden drivel that this is starting to become. The Red Bull crew were offered the use of Richard’s house and deck, and the gromfest continued.

While it’s hard to ascertain the value of such a project, it is clear that the benefits are clear. Surfers were opened up to a wealth of tips and tricks garnered from years and years of grovelling on the Pro Tour, and with Quintin Jones around to crap on any of the groms who stepped out of line, there was plenty of action throughout.

The final results will only reveal themselves down the line when surfers like Shaun Joubert, Steven Sawyer or Nicky Godfrey are entrenched on the World Tour competing against the best surfers in the world, and winning.


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