An interview with our surf coach, Naomi Bishop, about learning to surf in the UK to living in tropical countries teaching what she loves most – surfing.
Naomi is one of those girls you see on social media that attracts your attention for more than her selfies. I first saw photos of her surfing in the same breaks I had seen so many times after San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua when it was my home. I had tried surfing a couple of times, but I let my frustration and unnecessary humiliation fog me from actually ever enjoying my time learning. After moving back to the United States, I began to really admire female surfers who pursue a challenging, male-dominated sport gracefully and, in Naomi’s case, humbly. I had some time to finally speak with her one-on-one, and her accent was both sweet and welcoming as we shared our stories of being a beginner and how we ended up a part of the Barefoot team.
Being a beginner is both a beautiful and frustrating place to be when it comes to surfing. Some days you feel empowering progress, other days you feel like it’s never (never, never, never) going click. But the process comes packed full of lessons along the way, and this is what Naomi had to say.
How were you originally introduced to surfing?
I lived by the beach, I was a tomboy and the middle child of two brothers. When I was about 15 or 16 if my brothers went surfing, I went along. Later on, when I was 18, my boyfriend at the time and I would surf together. We based all our trips around it.
So that was the beginning years. How were you able to progress and overcome frustrations?
We would take videos, so it helped me progress quicker being able to see myself on film.
You must have learned a lot of lessons during those years. What do you think has been the most significant lesson from your surfing experience?
If there’s an opportunity, go for it. Every single wave is different, through travel and surfing and meeting new people, taking the opportunity as it presents itself has lead me to where I am today. Some of which, I would not have had I not started surfing.
As a surf instructor, how has this lesson been implemented in your coaching?
I’m always encouraging them to take things as they come or do spontaneous things — going for a wave or doing something out of their comfort zone.
How do you think this lesson changed your everyday life?
I think my life would be really different if I didn’t surf. I’ve always loved the ocean since I was a little kid. Everything I do now is based around surfing, My life would have definitely gone in a different direction — probably more career-based. “What are you gonna spend your money on?” “When are you going to buy a house?” I’m definitely far from that. It wouldn’t have been down the paths of things I enjoy now – the thing I enjoy most. What more could you want?
Are you ever reminded of this realization?
Definitely, sometimes [laughs] when I’m constantly chasing the next best wave.
In what ways do you find surfing more than a sport?
It’s a lot of things. It’s a stress reliever, it’s a community, it’s a family.If there’s anything else going on in life, when you’re in the water surfing, at that moment in time, nothing else matters. Once you’re out there, it’s just a massive release. I think that’s definitely therapy, for me; not a lot else can do that.
Now Naomi, finish these sentences…
Hitting the reefs in Bali feels like…
What’s that thing… a cheese grater!
When traveling there’s nothing better than …
Finding the best surf spot and wave in the area.
If I had to settle in one place it would be …
Oh, that is so hard… the tropics.
Something I would now tell myself as a beginner surfer …
Choose the right equipment. I was trying to use a shortboard way too early.
Surfing is …
My favourite thing in the whole world.
You can find Naomi in our surf coaching retreats. Her modest demeanour and subtle badass qualities will be sure to inspire you to take all opportunities presented to you – starting with the best waves in the area!