The goal of Surf Hamptons owner Zak Gawronski is to bring the East End surf community together, by offering classes to surfers with all levels of experience. “All we really require is for surfers to show up ready to learn,” he says.
We caught up with Gawronski to learn more.
Tell us a little about Surf Hamptons and what inspired you to start this business.
Growing up in Sag Harbor and spending winters in Hawaii during my adult life, I’ve been surrounded by water as long as I can remember. Without the ocean I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I began surfing at 10 years old and that’s where my love for the sport started. Surfing taught me how to be patient, learn from my mistakes and not take the little things in life for granted. As I grew older, I realized I could spread my passion and understanding of surfing by teaching others.
Starting Surf Hamptons wasn’t easy and was a little chaotic, just like when you first learn how to surf. With everything going on in the world today I figured people could use an escape and what better way to do that than to get in the ocean and learn how to surf. It’s a healthy and physically exerting way to get your mind off things and live in the moment.
What are some of the services you offer?
Surf Hamptons offers private individual lessons across the south shore of the East End. Instructors are available sunrise to sunset. We also provide group lessons as long as everyone participating lives in the same household due to COVID-19.
Where do lessons take place?
Lessons take place anywhere from Southampton to East Hampton town beaches. Which include Sagaponack, Wainscott, Napeague and Montauk.
Have you faced any challenges due to COVID-19?
We have certainly faced challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic but have taken several precautions and implemented additional safety measures. We are limiting the amount of people in a lesson to three at a time and those participating have to be living under the same roof. We are not offering wetsuit rentals this season, but surfboards are offered. If a board is used during a lesson they are sanitized afterwards before they are used by another client. We practice social distancing on the beach as well as in the water. But overall we have a great time nonetheless!
Tell us a little about the style of teaching and what people can expect when they book a lesson.
When it comes to water sports, safety is always first. We provide knowledge on how to stay safe in the ocean based on the conditions at the time, which takes years of experience to understand. Before getting into the water with a surfboard we assess how comfortable the client is (whether it’s a child or adult) with water safety by asking them a few questions. Occasionally we will go for a swim beforehand to observe how confident they are in the ocean. Then we prepare for the on-land “pop-up” drill where we cover all the basics of catching your first wave. Starting with how to enter the ocean with a surfboard, to getting through the waves out to the surf break, to paddling for a wave and popping on the board. Once that’s all covered, we answer any questions and head into the water to start surfing. We assist the surfer out in the water at all times to provide a great learning experience as well as having a fantastic time.