Revolutionising Surf Holidays in Europe
Things are changing rapidly in the world of surfing. Wave pools, state of the art performance equipment, new uses of technology and an endless supply of cheap flights are taking surfing to new places. Over years of hosting surf holidays in the Algarve, we have seen these changes first hand here at Tiny Whale. Our clients are from all over the world and arrive at all levels in their surfing. Our new approach to surf coaching is revolutionary and is not available anywhere else in Europe. We are using all of the above components that have taken surfing to where it is in 2019, to create a luxury surf holiday for anyone who wants to improve their surfing in Portugal’s most stunning region.
Our Coaching Model
Surf coaching is not possible without surf coaches. At Tiny Whale, we are proud to have a team of seasoned coaches who know the southwest coast of Portugal like the back of their hand and live for the sea. All of our surf coaches hold Level 2 ISA Surf Coach certifications and active beach lifeguard & lifesaving licenses. We have four instructors on hand at all times to create a 3:1 ratio for the twelve guests able to stay in our villa each week. The ISA has a ratio maximum of 8:1 and this is generally the industry average. By keeping surf groups significantly smaller, we give our coaches a better opportunity to do what they do best: coach surfing. More individualised attention equals more feedback, film and stoke for surfers and coaches alike.
Our coaching model has several phases starting as soon as a holiday is booked through our website. As a pre-care service, we will send you a welcome packet with our tips on how to get in form for your surf holiday. Here you will find everything from exercises to start working into your gym routine, tips for warming up and cooling down, swimming timetables (surfing IS more paddling than anything ☺), and yoga/stretching routines. Through studying what is done on the WSL Championship Tour, chatting with our favourite yogi Miri and reading up on what top European surfers Lee Stanbury and Ben Skinner, as well as British surf legend Lee Bartlett do to stay fit; we have crafted a plan to ensure our guests have everything need to prepare their body for an unforgettable week in the water.
The day of coaching starts soon as the car doors close and we’re off for the first surf on Sunday morning. The Algarve is a massive region of coastline; where knowledge of swell and wind combinations hitting Europe’s western and southernmost Atlantic coasts is a critical skill that our coaches have developed over years of surfing & coaching here. Different skill levels require different conditions, and we study surf forecasts way more than we did our subjects. Spot knowledge and in-car briefings give clients the opportunity to do more surfing than riding in the car, and have a scope of what conditions to expect before rocking up to Zavial, Casteljo, or Bordiera for an epic surf.
Instruction ramps up when the group gets changed and down to the beach. Instructors will lead a fun & active warm-up and answer any questions about the spot, gear or technique before paddling out with the group. In-water coaching is a crucial factor in giving clients top quality instruction. Having an experienced instructor sitting in the lineup pointing out waves for their students, or standing in the whitewash guiding beginners onto their first ride provides a dynamic that cannot be reached by a coach with dry hair.
Photo and video analysis is beneficial in the same way footballers analyse film from previous matches and upcoming opponents. There is a lot of improvement that can be made from seeing what you did on the wave, how the wave shaped up for that next maneuver, and what changes you can chew on before paddling out the next day. Film sessions at Tiny Whale are far less intense than inside a Premier League training ground, accompanied by tea and snacks - guests can take this time to relax and focus on their surfing in the comfort of our spacious film room. Coaches will guide surfers through edited film cuts once all the sand is washed away and wetsuits & boards are put to bed in the personalised locker of each guest. By utilising an array of photography equipment ranging from long and short range lenses, drones, and water housing; Tiny Whale photographers will capture different angles of popups, turns, cutbacks and barrels to be reviewed during film sessions. This will give guests the opportunity to see their hips, knees and feet on screen instead of underneath them going 20 KPH on a speedy Portuguese wall.
We touched on some of the things that we recommend guests do for surf cross training before arriving to the Algarve. Luckily, our villa is stocked with toys and spaces for guests to continue their out of water training however they fancy with one common denominator: fun. Time spent driving to spot check, getting caught on the inside, and completely fumbling a pop-up are all part of this beautiful pastime that we as surfers are so lucky to experience. Less than 1% of surfers make any money from surfing and it is too often forgotten that surfing is about fun at the end of the day. We realise how lucky we are to be surfers, and are excited to share our love of riding waves with everyone who walks through our door. Having fun on dry land translates to having more fun in the ocean, and that’s why we go on surf trips - isn’t it?
We are over the moon to have our resident yoga teacher, Miri back for her fifth year at Tiny Whale. With seven years of experience as a registered yoga teacher, and countless hours spent catching pealers in the Atlantic; Miri has developed a unique blend of Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa flow and Yin yoga in her classes that perfectly complement a full day of surfing. Yoga classes take place every day in the garden where adept yogis and beginners alike can enjoy the rolling green hills behind the villa while seamlessly flowing through routines & poses. Check out the availability and details of our 50 / 50 Surf & Yoga Retreat and Surfing + Yoga weeks for optimal sun, sea and zen this summer.
What’s a surf holiday in Portugal without chilling by the pool with a colourful beverage? Our villa boasts an amazing outdoor living space; fully equipped with sun lounges, fire pits and you guessed it: a pool. While the first two elements are for ambiance only, the pool makes for a great venue to practice everything you would do while surfing, minus catching a wave. Our coaches & hosts will guide guests through pool training, starting with board positioning and getting comfortable in the water. Sessions will then progress into paddling techniques, foam board pop ups, duck diving & turtle rolling, and breath holding for those surfing heavy waves or in short period swell. Pool training is wrapped up in the best possible way, finishing in the hot tub to reward a body that has been worked, stretched, invigorated; and is smiling from the inside out.
2019 board models and new season wetsuits are far from the only gear we buy for our surfing. Unlike the latter two, practicing with Surfskates and Indo Boards are actually proven to improve your surfing. Pro Surfer Jamie O’Brien has enough boards to last him several lifetimes, with the help of the shortest board in his quiver he’s always able to train landing massive airs, getting through barrels and making it rain with hacks and cutbacks. Jamie is an advocate of using Surfskate to train his surfing when conditions are less than ideal. If he, and top surf coaches all over the world are using Surfskate to train - we figured that we should too.
Surf coaches at Tiny Whale will guide Surfskate sessions to complement the surfing of intermediate to upper level surfers (Tiny Whale Levels 2-4). Anyone who is surfing green waves can benefit from using Surfskate to gain comfort finding the sweet spot of the board under their feet. Surfskate was designed by a surfer; the tail pad, swiveling trucks, and board shape are all meant to recreate the sensations felt while surfing. More advanced surfers will get practice generating speed and keeping it through top and bottom turns, tailslides to mimic cutbacks & reentries and utilising their tail pad. Our head surf coach, Tariq is a Surfskate UK team rider, and has helped form a partnership between Tiny Whale & Surfskate. Andy of Surfskate UK has worked closely with Tariq over the past few years, and kindly weighed in on using Surfskate to benefit surf training: “As a high level surf coach Tariq could instantly see the benefits of our system. Teaching people how to improve their surfing on land and iron out any bad habits while a coach is stood next to their surfer is priceless.” Stay tuned for more collaboration between Surfskate and Tiny Whale, and check out Surfskate Europe’s full selection available online.
The Indo Board is a beautiful, simple invention that has created more fun games of ‘PIG’ in the Tiny Whale backyard than any piece of technology that money can buy. Surrounded by yoga mats (safety first); our coaches have been busy trying to one up each other; imitating barrels, hanging ten, accelerating & decelerating atop the wooden board and cylinder. Using the Indo Board isn’t just to get the competitive juices flowing when Tonel is twelve foot and onshore, it’s also a workout for balance and core that translates directly to surfing. By moving your feet and gaining comfort on an unstable surface like the Indo, surfers of all levels will gain muscle memory and strength to improve their surfing. In a perfect world, when a surfer manages to find themselves behind the watery curtains of a barrel for their first time; they will already be comfortable with squatting down to distribute their weight, keeping a low centre of gravity with the world spinning around them. We love toys like the Indo Board and Surfskate because even when we’re not surfing, they make us feel like we are. We are stoked to be able to share what we’ve learned using these tools and more, while effortlessly improving the surfing of every guest that walks through our door.
Once you’ve returned home from a week full of smiles and stoke, we hope that your time with us will have you inspired to get up for a dawn patrol session at your local; or at least make plans to surf again soon. For those that want to continue improving with the help of Tiny Whale coaches from home, we are proud to offer a free film analysis session and personalised training drills. Just drop us a link, file or email with what you want to work on and one of our instructors will get back to you with what they think is most important for you to work on. Our main goal in this new coaching model is to get our clients better at surfing, period. To us, that does not end at the end of the holiday.
Needless to say, we’re stoked to open our doors in Colinas Verdes for the first time on the 13th of April. A lot has changed at Tiny Whale, and our first year as Europe’s premier luxury surf holiday provider is going to be a great experience for everyone involved. You don’t have to be a professional surfer to train like one; whether you’re looking to surf for the first time or find yourself racking up the barrels on Portugal’s southwest coast - drop us a line to see what a holiday with Tiny Whale could look like for you in 2019.
Safe surfing, big shaka.
The Tiny Whale Team