COCOA BEACH, Fla. — Chuck’s Big Adventure is traveling to Florida. His adventure will take him to some amazing beaches, beautiful homes, mermaid encounters and the fountain of youth.
Chuck also took the chance to ride some waves.
The crashing waves for surfers in Hawaii…
Hanging ten on monster water in California…
Even riding rad barrels in Australia.
This is a place where surfing superstars, like all-time great Kelly Slater, got their start. It is also a place that rejoices in its unique culture at places like Ron Jon Surf Shop – a store that for over 60 years has been the world’s most famous surf shop.
In Cocoa Beach, the surfing community has largely been a legacy group. Mom and dad surfed, grandparents surfed, and the legacy was passed down to their kids and grandkids.
That, however, only goes so far in growing the sport. Something needed to change — and it has.
Todd Holland, a former pro surfer once ranked eighth in the world, and wife, Lauren McLean, are now teachers. Regardless of age or experience, they want everyone to know you can not only surf, but you can love it.
Todd and Lauren have hundreds of former students who have embraced turtle rolls and tubular runs. And that has changed the culture here from a more closed community to a sport that can be tried by anyone ready to take some lessons.
For Lauren, giving students such a wide area of accessible beach is a real plus.
“Throughout our strip of land here in Cocoa Beach, we have a lot of public beach access, so it’s real accessible to come down here. And with that, we have sandbars. We don’t have rock. We don’t have reef. We just have sand here,” Lauren said. “So, with the Cape, with the Cape Canaveral just north of us, it actually forms a shelf of sand that builds up around our area that makes it a little bit more shallow here. So usually, it’s easier for people to learn how to surf around here with it being shallow because they can walk in and out of the surf without having to go through the process of learning how to paddle immediately.”
Husband Todd agrees. When he was ranked in the top 10 in the world, he knew he couldn’t maintain that status forever. Todd did know he wanted to make surfing a part of his life for years to come. Now, he has found real joy in teaching the sport.
“It’s something about being in the ocean, you know, it’s just, it’s really relaxing. We’ve had people come here and coming down to surf lesson and then do another surf lesson, and next thing you know, they’re moving here because they don’t live near the beach, you know?” Todd said. “It’s like they’ll say, you know, only a surfer knows the feeling. And it’s really true because every time you go out there, it’s never the same. It’s always changing from day to day. And, you know, it’s just one of those things you get locked into with being with nature and being in the ocean and just real relaxed.”
Todd and Lauren run Ron Jon Surf School and not only teach newbies how to surf but how to not be a “kook,” (surfer slang for a clueless person in the water). They want to maintain the etiquette necessary for every surfer to have fun but maintain order in the waves. Todd feels that kind of teaching will be passed down generationally.
Todd’s son, Calvin, is also in the business. He runs the nearby School of Surf and has a good time teaching students from around the globe.
I had boogie boarded a few times in my life, most recently with my Floridian son off the shore of Vero Beach, but he let me know that surfing was not out of my reach — even though I am nearly 66 years old!
Calvin said he can teach just about anyone how to find the peach and tranquility of surfing.
“I had a surfboard at 11 years old, so I have known it all my life. No complaints there. It’s my passion. It’s what I love, and thankfully, I get to do it for work on a daily basis,” Calvin said. “My fail rate is low. It’s possibly 0.02%. Personally, if you are willing to learn and you got the right mindset of trying it over again and getting it right, eventually, then we can definitely get you up with a board.”
Calvin said there are more people surfing now at Cocoa Beach than at any time in his life. Part of that is because of more surf training but also because the small waves of 3 to 6 feet provide newbies with a sense that if they try, they can do this.
Don’t expect to be intimidated if you come to Cocoa Beach to try your hand at surfing. The folks here have a real desire to let guests feel what they feel and experience what they experience … a true sense of peace, riding the wave, feeling the breeze, hanging on to the board.
Let’s go again, real soon. Totally dude.
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