We’re so excited that Olga Redinova, is returning to Surf South West for 2022. Olga, originally from the Czech Republic, has a successful career in London working for the Ambassador Group but is escaping the big City to be with us. In fact, she completed her Beach Lifeguard and Surf Instructor Level 1 course with us a number of years ago and ever since, she’s been travelling to and from London to be with us as much as possible.

That’s dedication!

So how does someone born in a landlocked country and working in a capital city, end up being such a exceptional surf instructor here in North Devon?

We put some questions to Olga to learn more of her story.

olga surfing

When did you discover your love of surfing?

I grew up in the Czech Republic and it wasn’t always possible to travel when I was growing up. For that reason, I didn’t even see the sea until I was about twelve. I was always desperate to explore the world, so as soon as I was old enough, I came to work in the UK as a nanny. Subsequently, I went backpacking to the Philippines, Bali and eventually ended up in Hawaii too.
I tried surfing in all these places but it wasn’t until I went to Sri Lanka when I was 33 that I caught my first green wave. I remember it well as I had extended my holiday and on the last day I caught that wave and was hooked! I’ve never looked back.

How did you progress your surfing in the UK?

When I came back to London I googled where the nearest place to surf was. It was Brighton so went down there and straight into a surf shop to buy everything I needed. I also picked up a card with details of a local surf coach, Cliff Cox. He is a surfing legend and quickly became not just my greatest surf coach, but also a good friend and mentor. I would drive up and down to Brighton as much as I could, even after night shifts, just to make sure I got my waves. I loved it.

When did you first discover Surf South West?

That was about four years ago. I was supposed to go on holiday with a friend but she cancelled last minute. I was wondering what to do when something online popped up about a Surf South West Beach Lifeguard Qualification Course. Because I had grown up in the landlocked Czech Rep I really hadn’t learnt anything about the Ocean. I wanted to learn more and discover about rips etc. I booked myself on the five day course and then the guys at Surf South West asked if I’d like to extend it and do the two day Surf Instructor course too. At first I said no as I thought I wasn’t good enough a surfer, but they filled me with confidence and I eventually agreed. The rest is history – I became qualified! It wasn’t without it’s difficulties though. I failed the swimming test the first time as I had an injured shoulder. I returned to retake the test a month later after I had undergone some rehabilitation and extra training. I passed. For anyone wanting to take the course now, I would say just go for it … don’t be put off and never give up on your dream.

olga surfing

How as your Surf Instructor career progressed?

Since then, I’ve been coming down as much as I can, every weekend sometimes. Last year my London job became part time which meant I could spend more time down here at the school putting my hours in and helping Yvette Curtis with her Wave Wahine sessions which I adore.

Have you any particular projects that you would like to pursue as a Surf Instructor?

I am very much about mental health. My father died by suicide over six years ago and another member of my family suffered abuse during her lifetime. I guess that’s why I love helping Yvette Curtis with her North Devon Against Domestic Abuse surf sessions. It would also be great to start a project here to help men and women in the area who are suffering from mental health issues.

Helping Others

I’ve done two courses one as a mental health first aider and another one for a charity called SHOUT which helps people in crisis 24/7 through messaging. We are still not paying attention to the huge mental health problems we have in the world. People don’t try to kill themselves for attention, they just can’t see any other way of getting out of pain. Men in particular need support as they often feel like they shouldn’t talk about their problems – society says they shouldn’t cry, or admit they struggle. It’s seen as a weakness to be vulnerable but its not. We all need to vent, and talk about what is troubling us, otherwise we get so deep it’s hard to get out of that dark hole.

Maybe there is something that you can organise through Surf South West? Would you like to start?

Yes, definitely. I am currently on a course using Breathwork to help with anxiety and mental health. It’s so powerful and such a natural technique that costs nothing. We can’t control everything in our lives, but we can control our breath and it has fantastic results. Once I’ve finished this course maybe there is something we can organise at Surf South West to help people with their mental health … Will and John are supportive of this idea, so watch this space.

And watch this space we will.