I met Chris a couple of years ago during a Ticket to Ride surf trip to one of my favourite city in the world, Cape Town in South Africa. Chris is a bit of a local legend around town and I thought I would catch up with him since he is now coaching the South African Junior team all the way to the ISA World Championship in Azores! Read on for some surf wisdom from the man who was dubbed one of the best coach in South Africa by Nikita Robb (4 x South African Women Champion and ex WSL CT competitor.)
So easy one to start with… Introduce yourself!
Hi, I’m Chris Bond, aka Seabond, grew up in the best place on earth, Cape Town, South Africa!
You are now regarded as one of the best coaches in all of South Africa and often describe as a legend of the Cape Town surfing scene, can you tell us a bit more about your career in surfing?
Haha thanks, I’m not sure about all of that but I do my best and have a passion for what I do and try to keep learning! My surfing career started when I was 8 years old back in 1992 when my parents decided that all this standing on a bodyboard didn’t make sense so they bought me a surfboard for my birthday. Neither of my parents surfed or got too involved so it was an interesting journey from there.
Luckily I met some great friends who also surfed Muizenberg, and living 2km from the beach I could take a jog down to the beach after school and go and surf. I loved all sports and played a lot of sports in school but slowly surfing took over more and more. It was only really when I was 15 that I started to compete a bit more in surfing competitions, which is very different to competing in other sports.
When I was about 17 I started getting some coaching from South African big wave legend Ian Armstrong through my school surf club, which really helped my broaden my outlook on surfing as well as understand competitive surfing better. Soon afterwards I represented Western Province for the first time and several times subsequently. I always struggled a bit with competitive surfing, which is I think why I became so interested in it. I kept competing and won the South African University Champs which is probably my best win.
On the coaching side, after school I did some beginner coaching for Ian and really enjoyed it, after which I went to the UK and working for the British Surfing Association mostly doing beginner coaching and completing my BSA Level 1 and Level 2 courses. The Level 2 course lit a little fire under me of what I enjoyed of the performance coaching, and when I got back to South Africa, I started slowly doing bit of that whenever I could, and always taking the ‘improver’ or ‘advanced’ lessons when I did lessons for Roxy surf school.
Throughout my studies at the University of Cape Town I was coaching for Ticket to Ride, running tours from Cape Town to Durban as well as some private lessons and some of the top young juniors in Cape Town when I had the time.
All the way along I kept surfing as much as possible, whether competing or not, always trying to improve and push myself. This hasn’t changed and in fact I am competing for the Cape Town team at the South African National Championships in two weeks time!
You coach for Ticket To Ride / Errant surf trips, but have also a few groms and individuals under your supervision, what’s your favourite type of coaching?
Wow that question is actually harder to answer than you might think! You get a lot of reward in teaching first-time surf lessons to be honest, because they think they won’t be able to stand and I will get them to stand, so they easily achieve their goals!
But then the longer-term challenge, and therefore the long-term work of really improving someone’s surfing is very rewarding too and you get to really know the individuals that you work with. I enjoy working with people and helping them achieve their dreams, so whether it is a beginner trying to stand for the first time, an improver doing their first cutback like with the Ticket to Ride trips, or an advanced surfer winning a title, each one is rewarding in its own way!
What’s the best advice you were ever given in surfing and now use in your own teaching?
Hmm I guess the best thing I ever learnt from my coach was how to turn a bad surf into a good surf. When you are having a bad surf and start trying harder or get frustrated you will just get worse and worse. I was taught how to turn that around, get back to basics and turn a bad surf into a good one. I know it sounds weird but I very rarely have a surf that I don’t enjoy, onshore or offshore, big or small.
My advice? Realise that if you are having a bad surf it’s in your mind. Look around you, appreciate your surroundings, and go back to basics. Do something fun that you know you can land, and build from there. Within one wave of that you can start having fun again. Surfing can be really frustrating and has a slow learning curve, you have to accept that.
You must see plenty of your promising SA surfers, who should we look for ?
Yes having coached at the South African Junior champs for the last 5 years I am fortunate to have seen a lot of the best juniors in the country. I have to be careful here! There are some amazing surfing coming out of South Africa, but some of the names to look out for in the SA Junior team at the ISA world Champs next month are Angelo Faulkner, Sebastian Williams, Jordy Maree, Sophie Bell, Crystal Hulett, Kirsty McGillivray, Kai Woolf, Bevan Willis, Joshe Faulkner, Koby Oberholzer, Adin Masencamp, Max Elkington… oh wait the whole South African team ! They all have unique styles and flare as well as competitive savvy.
Talking about promising surfers you have now been selected as official coach for SA for the ISA. You must be pretty stoked?!
Yes I am super stoked to have been selected to coach the SA Junior team! It has been a dream of mine and something I have been working towards over the years. It is an honour to able to work with such a talented group of young surfers all representing their country in the biggest international event for surfers their age!
Unfortunately there isn’t much funding in surfing and I am having to pay my own way to the event, so I have set up a little ‘gofundme’ account to help get me to the event in the Azores www.gofundme.com/2hm62rws. It is an amazing honour to get to represent my country and I wouldn’t miss it for the world even if I have to paddle there!
Last one: One spot with one person. Where is your perfect wave and with who?
I know it’s cliche, but it would have to be a long barrelling left with Kelly Slater. I’d go with 6-8 ft Cloudbreak for the waves, and Kelly because I think he’s one of the most interesting people and thinkers out there.
TAKE IT FROM THE COACH! Seabond’s advice to nail your top turn!
Frontside Top Turn (many variations):
– To do a good top turn you need to do a good bottom turn, fact!
– Choose your place for the top-turn so you can set up for it.
– Bend your legs and keep low to your board on the bottom turn, touching the water helps.
– Where you look is where you go
– Don’t rush it
– In the top-turn don’t let your back arm get stuck ‘behind you’, throwing your arms up and in front of you helps you unweight and stay over your board whether it is on the face or in the lip.
– Look down towards where you want to go to help you land the manoeuvre.
– Bend your legs, tuck your arms in and forward, and go low to your board to complete the manoeuvre.