7 August, 2017 7 August, 2017

Coach Chris

15 years ago, coaches on the world tour were a foreign concept. Now days, almost all world tour surfers have coaches travelling with them through the majority of the tour. John John has Ross Williams, Matt Wilkinson has Glen Hall, Jordy has Chris Gallagher and the list goes on. The more you surf, the more wave knowledge you attain, and there ain’t nothing wrong in hiring wisdom to guide your steps. 

In this new series, we’ll be interviewing some of South Africa’s greatest coaches, starting with Cape Town’s Chris Bond. Chris is a highly analytical individual, approaching surfing as an entirely logical pastime. Every action concludes in an equal result. Here we delve into Chris’ world, who he thinks will qualify next, and what it takes to make the CT.  


When and where did you start surfing?

In the Berg (Muizenberg) back in the DAY! 1992 on my 8th birthday was when my parents finally decided I had been standing on a boogie board for too long and got me a chunky 2nd hand “Hotline” blue twinfin with a round tail. Wish I had kept it!


We know it’s very difficult to make a living from coaching alone, what else do you do to pay the bills?

Haha it’s an interesting one with the coaching and making a career out of it. I love coaching and have seen the benefit as well as the need for it, which is why I do it. As we all know the biggest market is in the beginner industry, but with the performance coaching the industry isn’t quite there yet. Not that you can’t put food on the table and pay the rent, but we don’t really have sponsors backing their surfers by putting funding behind young surfers in South Africa yet, which effects coaching too.

But that’s off topic, I work for Ticket to Ride where I organise and run surf tours in South Africa, Mozambique and Indonesia for anyone who is amped on improving their surfing! Mostly internationals but we have had a few South Africans come on our trips too. It’s a great job, and being able to share the stoke of surfing whilst being full-time employed is a great balance.

Coach Chris, threading the needle in Cape Town. Image: Athanatos


How long have you been coaching for?

I did a bit of beginner coaching for Ian Armstrong in 2004, then did my BSA Level 1 and BSA Level 2 (high performance coaching) courses in 2005 in Newquay in England and worked as a surf coach for 5 months, 6 days a week. When I got back I did a mix of ability levels and got more and more into the high performance coaching. I first coached the WP junior team in 2008 with Josh Salie when WP won in KZN waters for the first time in history.


What do you think are the most important character traits a coach should possess?

Patience without a doubt. Because there are no constants in surfing, it means that learning certain manouevres or techniques can take a long time, this will frustrate the surfer, so the coach has to see the bigger picture, take the little wins and remember its a long game not a short game.

A coach has to remember the reason people surf, and never lose sight of this, not matter how hard one pushes it should always ultimately be enjoyable. You need to strive to always learn more, so that you are improve as a coach.

A coach also needs to be a good teacher, be able to read people and know when to take a different approach at explaining something, and understand the different ways of learning.

“A coach has to remember the reason people surf, and never lose sight of that as well, not matter how hard one pushes it should always ultimately be enjoyable.” – Coach Chris


Who do you coach?

Anyone who is keen to surf!! One of my favourites who I had fun coaching was Max le Roux. I coached him from when he was about 5 years old until him and his parents moved to Oz. But competitively, I mainly coach Jordy Maree, Max Elkington and Jake Elkington. I have also had some fun coaching Jarred Veldhuis at comps this year as I work with him at Ticket to Ride. Then the the talented South African Junior team last year and this year again.

What have been your greatest achievements as a coach thus far?

My greatest achievement is any time a surfer who I am coaching surfs to their full potential. Or getting that 70 year old up and standing for the first time after 5 surf lessons back in 2005, that was epic. But having a deep love for sport, getting to represent my country by being the coach for the SA Junior Team in 2016 was a life goal. I am super stoked to have been selected again in 2017 to help the talented crop of South African surfers in Japan in September.

Coach Chris knows a thing or two about busting airs.


If you could outlay four important characteristics surfers need to make the CT, what would they be?

Dedication – Unless you’re a JJF or Kelly, you have to do more than the other 500 talented surfers around the world also trying to qualify.

Commitment – There is more to life than surfing of course, but if you are going to compete and try to make the CT, then you have to be committed to your choice 100%.

Confidence – Whether brought up this way or through self learning, to be able to make the CT you have to be confident, from choosing the board you will ride in a heat to which wave you will catch and what turn you will do. Doubt will make you stumble.

Unique – If you look at every surfer on the CT today, the majority of them have a unique style. The CT no longer looks for all surfers to surf similarly, and whether your Fanning surfing a fact perfectly or Toledo doing two full rotation alley-oops at Supers you can get a 10 point ride. Surfers need to know their strengths and weaknesses, play to their strengths and work on their weaknesses.


When should a surfer rely on instinct and when should he/she use analytical thought (in a heat)?

This is an interesting one. I was sitting in a seminar with Paddy Upton when he was talking to the South African Junior team and squad at the SA Camp a few weeks back, and he explained that the front part of the brain is the thinking and the back part is the instinctual, or along those lines. Too much of the thinking and we stumble, the instinctual is what we practice and what we know best.

Having said that, strategic decisions need to be made with the the analytical thought, and surfing decisions more so with the instinctual. I have seen surfers take off on straight close outs to start a heat, or leave an absolute bomb right off the bat for no apparent reason, which is most likely from overthinking it and not dealing with stress. Let me add here that every surfer who has not surfed a heat has no idea the pressures that are felt during a heat and how ones reading of the ocean and judgement changes under that pressure. And no, it’s not the same as any other sport you may have played!


Who do you think has the ability to make it in SA? And what does that person need to do to get there?

Wow there are a whole group of really talented young surfers in South Africa right now. Mikey is having a great year so far, found a good rhythm in his heats and surfing. Watching Dale at J-Bay was also confusing for a lot of people I spoke to, his power and speed matched the top surfers inch for inch, yet he hasn’t made it yet and it doesnt seem to be his main focus anymore. Of the juniors stepping up, it will be about who puts in the focused hard work, several have the talent.

There ain’t nothing wrong with Coach Chris’ rail game


If you had two of your students up against each other in the same heat… what would tell them?

That’s happened many times, actually this year I had Max and Jake up against each other a few times in the u18 and they had the most epic paddle battle at Nahoon which Jake won. It’s hard when Max is still u16 but pushing hard, he actually made the u18 SA team as well as u16 team this year but chose his division. It’s good for the older surfers to feel the pressure from the younger guys, and the younger guys pushing the bar, making heats in the WQS 1000 comps as well. But I just take each individual completely separately, go through their normal routine with them and try my best to get each one to surf to their strengths and the best of their ability. If they both decide they’re gonna hustle hard to get the inside for the first wave then I wouldnt’t try and change that. Whichever surfer applies themselves best will end up on top!

Thanks Chris, and finally, we know you travel a ton, where you off to next?

Haha me, travel? Just chilling at home bru. Nah I think I’m off to Durban next week to go and see the current tour we’re got running, then off to the Kalahari and Namibia straight after, then Japan in September with the SA Junior team. Frothing!


  1. Max Hepworth-Povey
    8 August, 2017 at 10:13 am · Reply

    I’ll never forget you coaching me through those little barrels at Nusa Lembongan whilst I was coaching our group ha ha. SHOT BRU

  2. […] coaching schedule has been spearheaded by Chris Bond, who alongside his full time job of head of TTR Ops, spends his time coaching WSL campaigners such […]

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