Philosophically and holistically oriented surf coaching and mentorship
The Conatus approach is based on our theory that surfing is much more than standing on a board riding a wave. In the language of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, surfing is a language game, a form of life, and as such it has its own constituent grammar or sets of rules and exceptions to rules that make up its major structural components. Like a spoken language, surfing is best taught immersively, through dedicated guidance and mentorship. We place a strong emphasis on the less obvious, but extremely crucial, aspects of surfing such as ocean knowledge, wave judgment, surfing cultural history, social lineup navigation, and fear management. We are and we are not a “surf school”. If by surf school you envision large groups of students on foam tops with instructors in the water without their own boards pushing people into waves, that is not us. At no point in our session together will you be "pushed" into a wave. Instead, we focus on building you into a surfer from the ground up. It is slow going at first, but equates to an accelerated learning curve in the long run. Our goal is to equip you with the skills you need to catch and ride your own waves with efficiency, grace, and style. We believe that surfing is a social activity and that more beautiful and ethical surfing makes a more beautiful and ethical surfing environment. When you surf with us you'll also meet lots of wonderful people who are also stoked on surfing and who want to do it as intentionally as possible. This is what we consider a self-sustaining surfing practice.
We surf ALL YEAR. There is no surfing “season” and no end to the joy that surfing brings. Only one thing is necessary: to surf as much as possible. The location and timing of sessions is wholly dependent on wind, tide, and swell forecasts. We are always aiming to give our clients the best surfing experience possible within the constraints of busy schedules and the ever-changing ocean and weather patterns. We aim to have the weekend schedule in place by Thursdays and for the week by Mondays, but we are always checking the wind and swell report to make sure that our call is still valid.
We hold NY sessions in Rockaway or Long Beach. NJ sessions occur anywhere from the Sea Girt area to Sandy Hook. Rhode Island sessions are focused in the Narragansett area. We run three major retreats in Costa Rica in January, March, and May. In addition to these we put on pop up retreats. So far we have gone to Barbados, Portugal, Southern California, and Northern California. We have our sites on some new destinations in 2019! To stay in the loop about any and all of this please sign up for the newsletter.
Expectations: from ground up it takes us 6 months-2 years to get a person from never having surfed before to becoming a proficient surfer. The speed is dependent on a variety of factors from body type and athletic ability to schedule flexibility and commitment to the investment. For this reason we prefer to work in our package format (packages listed below). For intermediates — owns own board and suit, can paddle and navigate lineup generally — we recommend you start with a consultation and then we will determine how best to help your surfing given your schedule constraints and our client load. We prefer packages are completed in as quickly as possible to ensure that you do not plateau too much. Some people try to “milk” their packages, thinking that spacing sessions out and practicing on their own will aid their surfing when it often takes it back a few notches. The more you surf with us the faster you will get better at surfing. It will be obvious to you and to us when you have reached a point that surfing more independently is better for your surfing. Packages include both private and semi-private sessions depending on ability level, scheduling, and ocean constraints. A private session is 1-1. In a semi-private or retreat format our maximum student-instructor ratio is 3-1. When we mentor a person from the mega beginner stage we prefer to keep first sessions 1-1 to ensure maximum safety until you reach a point where you are deemed a capable lineup citizen. We aim to provide private Vimeo links to all advanced beginner and intermediate sessions, weather and circumstances depending (there are a few occasions we are not able to film). Vimeo links are sometimes offered in the early stages, but usually do not start until you’re done with the basics. Advanced beginning and intermediate surfers in packages can expect a mix of 1-1 sessions and semi-privates, plus a Vimeo link and a “Session Notes Invoice”. A “Session Notes Invoice” follows every CSC session. It is a small critical essay that highlights your accomplishments and areas for improvement, and it also keeps track of your payment and packages. For all levels there is a higher chance for 1-1 sessions during weekdays (non-dawn patrol), as demand is lower.
Please note that 1-1 sessions are 60 min and semi-privates are 90 min. That is the time in the water. Again, students in packages will experience a mix of both. If your session starts at 9a you need to be there at 830a to check the surf and put on your gear.
sessions AND PRICING
Private Session: Brush up your skills or learn to surf gracefully with the Conatus approach to ocean knowledge, paddling, board control, and surfing etiquette. For intermediate and advanced surfers we focus on positioning, wave judgment, and log the whole session on video so that we can assess and fine tune your technique, style, and approach. In many cases, we can assess your equipment to make sure you’re riding what is optimal for your particular vision of surfing. For beginners, our approach mimics the way that young kids learn to surf in a well established local beach or surfing community. You will receive one-on-one attention from a vetted CSC instructor. We will adjust the approach based upon your apparent strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and fears. We provide the surfboard. We have some suits but prefer that our students invest in a wetsuit before they schedule with us. The first part is the surf check. This is dedicated to setting up your surfing vocabulary and to make sure that you have the right words for the things that you see and feel while out in the water. Then we will head out and practice paddling, board control, and riding white waters. Vimeo link dependent on ability level. Session notes. 60 min. Weekday: $250 Venmo/$260 website. Weekend: $275 Venmo/$285 Website.
Semi-Private Session: Our semi-privates work differently than many expect. There is not a semi-private experience where you tag onto a group session as a newcomer to CSC. Instead there are two options. The first is for 2-4 ppl to schedule a session together — friends or couples, new to us, or not new, does not matter — what does matter is that you already know the people and you're coming to us as a small group. The second is when people already initiated into CSC method and ethics have a group session with 1-3 other members. These can happen of necessity when we have been squeezed for waves. It is also a great option for CSC members who have an established practice to get some coaching in larger swells and more challenging conditions. You need to be vetted by us to qualify for a semi-private session. Vimeo link and session notes. 90 min. Weekday: $200 per person Venmo/$210 website. Weekend: $225 per person Venmo/$240 website.
Advanced Beginner/Intermediate Consultation: If you are an advanced beginner or intermediate surfer you have been giving surfing a go for at least 1 year, own your own equipment, and desire to integrate surfing into your overall lifestyle. Maybe you've plateaued? Consistently find yourself at a crowded peak and unable to catch waves? Only catch closeouts? Keep pearling? A consultation is a great idea if you want to take your surfing practice to the next level. We surf for one hour with very little coaching in the water. Consults are designed so that we can watch you surf and determine your strengths and weaknesses. After the consult we will give you a private Vimeo link and a prescription for better surfing tailored to your own goals and strengths. Please note that if you have surfed less than 10 times, do not have your own equipment, and do not know how to catch your own waves then a beginner session might be more up your alley. Vimeo link and session notes. 60 min. Weekday: $150 Venmo/$160 website. Weekend: $200 Venmo/$210 website
3 Lesson Basics Package: As with the private and semi-private sessions, this package is designed for either beginning or intermediate surfers. For beginners the three sessions look like: Session 1: Conatus approach to ocean, paddle, wave reading, and whitewater riding basics. Session 2: more ocean and surfing basics and white water mastery. Session 3: in the water guidance. Going down the line. Style pointers. Video if you've advanced significantly. For intermediates, we will take a more coaching style approach to each session, and will focus more on technique, style, and wave judgment. Vimeo links and session notes. Text and email support. 3-4.5 hrs. Weekday/Weekend: $650 Venmo/$670 website.
5 Lesson Basics Plus Package: We believe that learning to surf is just as hard, if not harder, than learning a martial art. For this reason, multiple sessions are necessary at various stages in your learning process. A 5 session package will put you on the path to a self sustaining surf practice. The aim here is to take the sessions in as short amount of time as possible — ideally under 6 weeks. This gets the surfing vocabulary and muscle memory firmly in place. Session 1: Conatus approach to ocean, paddle, wave reading, and whitewater riding basics. Session 2: more ocean and surfing basics and whitewater mastery. Sessions 3-5: coaching on wave judgment, glide ups, and reading lineups. Vimeo links and session notes. Text and email support. 5-7.5 hrs Weekday/Weekend: $1000 Venmo/$1030 website.
10 Lesson Mentorship Package: The 10 session package follows the logic of the 5 session package and extends it, with a significant price discount on each session. Since we will be guiding your practice for a large amount of time, this package significantly features video analysis. Video analysis is the key to correcting bad habits before they become insurmountable. It also gives you the confidence of seeing that you actually are improving and helps with wave knowledge, judgment, and lineup savvy. This is the surest way to get you on a lifelong path to proficient surfing. Please note that the 10 session package is for serious beginners and intermediates only. Vimeo links and session notes. Text and email support. 10-15 hrs. Weekday/Weekend: $1800 Venmo/$1860 website.
Kids Mentoring/Coaching: Conatus Surf Club is not a surf school nor is it a camp, but we are interested in mentoring young surfers. We place an emphasis on impeccable etiquette (how to share waves) and on developing a smooth and graceful style. We are capable of grooming kids for competition or simply to become respectful and proficient lifelong surfers. If you are interested in this or something like this for your kids please contact us and we can set up a custom rate for your kids.
The Fine Print
****Punctuality/Missed Sessions: We prefer that you are either early or on time, but understand that some things occur that are sudden and out of our control. A 15 minute grace period is awarded at the start of each session, but after 15 minutes, the session will effectively start and we will complete the remaining 1.5 hours after you arrive. We need at least 24 hours notice if you need to cancel. A complete no show counts as a session.
*****Expiration: Sessions expire 6 months after purchase date. We encourage that you complete packages as quickly as your schedule allows. The frequency of coaching will help you improve more rapidly. Many people want to go on their own for expanded periods of time between sessions and it is not advisable. You catch more waves when you surf with us so you get to work on more things in one two hour surf than you would alone. We also urge you to paddle, breathe, and turn correctly throughout the session, enhancing your body's muscle memory. We make every effort to put you in our schedule when you purchase a package and will follow up with emails and texts if you seem to be putting surfing at a lower priority.
******Honesty: Please be honest with your ability level! It is not shameful to admit that you've been trying surfing for years and still cannot catch a wave. Please also note that if you have taken a lesson with another school and stood up on a wave that you were pushed into, that does not mean that you "know how to stand up". If you cannot do it on your own then you need to learn how. So please be as honest as you can -- that will make the experience better for all!
*Equipment: Surf level dependent. For complete beginners, we provide or help you acquire all necessary equipment, though if you own wetsuits or boards, we encourage you to bring what you’re used to using. We always use fiberglass surfboards (not the foam ones) because we believe that the foam boards are less stable and actually harder to surf. Surfing is dangerous no matter what board you’re riding, so we focus on board safety and learning to handle your equipment with confidence from the first session.
**Locations and weather: We usually coach at Long Beach or Rockaway Beach, though we sometimes offer special events at other locations. Check the blog for updates and promotions. Once your session is reserved, you’ll receive a confirmation 48 hours prior to your scheduled time--we’re almost always good to go, but occasionally the ocean and weather patterns have other things in mind. Your safety and comfort is our highest priority.
***Scheduling: We do scheduling for the weekends on Wednesdays/Thursdays and schedules for the weekdays Sundays/Mondays. Three days is the magic number for having a relatively confident idea about how wind, swell, and tide will interact at our local breaks. We always choose locations for optimal conditions and minor crowds. Location is liable to change 24-48 hours before the session if conditions shift radically. We are hyper vigilant with communication if this should be the case and will make sure that you keep your spot if you are on the schedule for that day.