22 August, 2017 22 August, 2017

Coach Llewellyn

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing Coach Llewellyn’s backhand whip, it’s a pleasure worthy of much praise. The man lives for an on point off the bottom off the top combination. A combination which he’s used to defeat many a competitor on the battle field. Mr Whittaker’s a coach, and a great one at that, here he run’s us through what it takes to be the best.

When and where did you start surfing?

I started surfing when I was 10 years old in 1989, 28 years ago here in Mossel Baai. I started on a 6’4 town and country quad fin set up and surfed Bayview beach by myself after school every day. Bayview is the beach between Diaz and Hartenbos in front of the Island, ignorance is bliss hahahahaha

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

It is extremely difficult to make a living from coaching let along elite coaching as it’s such a niche market. I take pride in the fact that I can make a living from elite coaching but as you said it is hard and that why I have started my athlete and life style brand FTB – Focus Trust Believe.

Coach Lu zaps the lip while a grom takes a couple notes. Image: Chappie

How long you been coaching for?

I started coaching learn to surf in the UK to make some extra bucks whilst competeing on the WQS that was in 2005 in 2006 and 2007 I coached the UK junior team and in 2008 I moved back to SA to start my surf school. Initially I wanted to do a learn to surf school here in Mossel bay and the my good mate Liam Wood introduced me to Ethan Fletcher, Jordy Maree and the Elkington’s and so Waves School of surfing started.

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

Patience and a willing to learn, especially from the kids they can teach you a lot about yourself. Your coaching needs to evolve as you evolve as a person, the kids really need to learn to trust you.

Who do you coach?

The way WSS is set up allows me to work a lot of different kids all over the country, there’s a long list of kids I work with and who are extremely successful on the junior SAST . (I’m not going to mention names in case I offend someone that I forget to mention)

Lu, a professor on the backhand lip bash.

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

Quinton Jones and I with Mark Hoffman as manger coached the SA junior team to a silver medal in 2010 or (2011) in Peru when we had the likes of the Brand brothers and Bianca, we also got a bronz medal in the tag team.

Most the kids I coach have won multiple SAST and WSL events over the years and have represented national teams in SA and the UK.


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

Focus with no doubt

Belief in themselves

Trusting in their ability and in who they are

Even tempered

Loads of hunger and determination

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

It takes a while to come up with a recipe to surf heats consistently successfully. The trick is to develop that recipe or your own secret (http://www.wavesschoolofsurfing.com/the-secret/ ) this is my secret. Once you have a recipe then you are able to get yourself into the “zone” and its here where you surf all on instinct.

Get in the zone, surf on 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 was once told in the 1997 Zigzag that I have the worst small wave style and was also told that you’ll never win an event but I went on to make the top 100 in the world and win many events. What I’m trying to say is that anyone can make it, anyone that really really wants to make it and of course everyone young up and coming grom does “want” it but are they prepared to do anything and everything it takes to make it happen for themselves.

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

This has happened many time at an event I focus on three aspects

Wave riding skill for the day


IPS, Ideal Performance State of mind

I will tell both my students the same strategy and the same wave riding skill, however I will use a different and unique approach with each one individually to try get them in the “zone”. Whoever is the most focused and is in the “zone” and is mentally strong not allowing any doubt into their minds,  relying on gut instinct and applying everything they have learnt will come out the victor.

Any final words of wisdom/shout outs?

Shout out to Elton lee Ireland for the sickest boards, my amazing friends for all their love and support, to the kids that make every day working with them a joy and to the parents for their support. There is no such thing as luck, luck is where preparation meets opportunity



  1. Gavin Roberts
    22 August, 2017 at 7:02 pm · Reply

    What a legend and inspiration to all surfers and coaches, keep it up lu

  2. Mario
    22 August, 2017 at 9:12 pm · Reply

    Nice one Lu! The time and effort you put in is unbelievable!

  3. Jurie
    22 August, 2017 at 10:53 pm · Reply

    Awesome Lu !!
    Good man all round

  4. Lourens
    23 August, 2017 at 8:00 am · Reply

    Lekker Lu bru!!! Well said!!

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