29 August, 2017 29 August, 2017

Coach Kelvin

Hailing from Scottburgh and now residing in Jeffreys Bay, Kelvin Zehmke has a bustling little surf school down Da Gama road. Having grown up on right hand point breaks and now residing at the world’s premiere right point, it’s safe to say coach Kelvin knows how to string together a couple of banger off the lips with speed, power and flow. We sat down with the man and he spoke candidly ’bout his life as a surf coach.


When and where did you start surfing?
1990 in Scottburgh
We know it’s very difficult to make a living from coaching alone, what else do you do to keep from starving?
I have a surf school where we coach beginner up to advanced surfers which keep us busy enough to eat.
How long you been coaching for?
From a young age I always studied the pro’s techniques (play,rewind,play,pause….) to improve my own surfing and  have always enjoyed giving guys advice where I can and got approached to start coaching a few surfers about 5 years ago. So 5 years officially.
What do you think are the most important character traits a coach should possess?
Patience, wisdom, reliability, commitment, friendliness.

Kelvin’s grown up surfing rights, but he knows how to set the fins free when going left.

Who do you coach?
I have quite a few regular local surfers attending weekly and also a few surfers when they in the  country. A few you might have heard of are Gina Smith, Emma Smith , Zoe Smith, Kirsty McGillivray, Mathew McGillivray, Dillen Hendricks and Kai Woolf.
What have been your greatest achievements as a coach thus far?
Seeing some of my surfers winning SA titles and representing SA internationally. Seeing a youngster progress from foamies to busting airs!
If you could outlay four important characteristics surfers need, to make the CT, what would they be? 
Discipline, passion, teach-ability and self-confidence!
When should a surfer rely on instinct and when should he/she use analytical thought (in a heat)?
Difficult to separate the two! I believe experienced competitive surfers’ analytical thoughts becomes their instinct.
Who do you think has the ability to make it in SA? And what does that person need to do to get there?
I believe any of the SA surfers in the top 100 on the QS with friends and family support could make it.
If you had two of your students up against each other in the same heat… what would you tell them?

If need be, I would advise them where the best peak is (both together) and tell them to have fun! 

Any final words of wisdom/shout outs?
Always be willing to learn from others. I coach but also get coached to stay on my game. (Thank you Graeme Hynse!)


  1. Gavin Roberts
    29 August, 2017 at 4:33 pm · Reply

    Kz you legend , well done for all the achievements, you rip

  2. Matty Baynes
    30 August, 2017 at 4:37 am · Reply

    Always someone I looked up off the point and always a pleasure to watch when the waves were cooking. Huge respect Kz 🤙🏼Definately missed in the south coast lineup

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