A surf center is a key point to a surf spot. It is a resort that offers an introduction to the awesomeness of watersports and the facilitator of means to enjoy any of the sports that use the ocean as its playground.
Here is a list of what I believe a surf center should have.
I could say that this goes without saying but it is good to remember what our target clientele is. If you intend on bringing beginners to your center, it would be a good idea to choose a spot with flat water. However, don’t expect experienced riders to come if all you have to offer is a maximum of 12 knots (formula sailors do exist, but are they going to rent or will they be more likely to bring their own stuff? An alternative to watersports should also be nearby for days with less favourable conditions as well as decent establishments for food and accommodation.
2. Good equipment
A surf center is characterized mainly by its equipment. What makes one center better than another at the same location is the quality of the equipment it offers. It will naturally also determine the price it asks.
3. Storage space
People who own their own stuff will most likely not want to spend money on rental. They prefer the commodity of sailing the kit they are used to and if you can’t provide a place for them to store it safely, they will go someplace else.
4. Good instructors
A surf school might have great facilities but if the instructors giving the lessons are no good then you might as well just rent. There are a couple pf things that make an instructor good which will be mentioned in a future post.
5. Repair facilities
This is a no brainer as equipment will break at some point or another and it needs to be available for further rental as soon as possible. Also, the surfers with their own equipment might need a means of having their stuff repaired. It is up to the center to provide the service or at least be able to refer to someone who can.
6. 2nd hand sale
Some students that have reached a certain level might want to get their kit right away. Most people will trust their instructor on the choice of their first board. Since it is their first board/sail which might only be appropriate for their future level for a relatively short period of time. But it’s not only students that might want second hand equipment. Many people want to buy used kit for a cheaper price rather that get a new board for over 1.500 €.
at the SURF CENTER PLAYA SUR it is common to sell the equipment of the previous season when they renew their range with the equipment from the latest season.
As fun as it is to tell people that there is a huge toilet called the sea, most people will insist on some more private installations. Joking aside, bathrooms should be available … and clean for goodness sake.
Well, who doesn’t want to get rid of the salt water before getting changed into their dry clothes. There is little more unpleasant than wearing a T-shirt over dried salt. I think it come right after having to squirm into a cold damp wetsuit 🙂
9. Good website
No business nowadays is complete if it does not own a website. This counts triple if our customer base is of a touristic nature, people who like to check out their destination before deciding whether to go there or not. The website should be clear, complete and simple to navigate. The best thing is to not only provide information about the center but also the surroundings like infrastructure, alternative activities, etc.
Most of all it is important that it is up to date and that it offers an easy way to contact the center. If there is a Facebook page and/or a twitter account it is important that the updates keep coming on a regular basis.
10. Spot guide
11. Rescue Service
If someone is drifting out to sea because their boom snapped or the wind died and the rocks keep on getting closer there is nothing worse than standing by helplessly and having to watch as an inexperienced sailor abandons the kit and sacrificing it to the rocks. Ultimately it is also our responsibility to save the life of anyone in distress on the water. Rescue facilities include a jet ski (or boat), a first aid kit and a contact number to a professional rescue service such as the lifeguards responsible of that spot.
– Wind forecast
We all want to know what the wind will do throughout the day and in the following days first thing in the morning. If we are going to check the wind, we might as well print it out for everyone’s benefit. The same goes for the swell forecast.
– Drinks supply
After sailing for an hour or so, dehydration kicks in. It is good to have water and other soft drinks available, especially if we are at a salt water spot where the salty taste is something we usually want to get rid of as soon as possible.
– Chill out area / socializing
Dont we all like to tell everyone what the wind is like, how to do some manoeuvre, or just to chat? A socializing area will form naturally at a surf center so we don’t really have to think too much about this. However, in order to avoid congregations at inconvenient location that might obstruct the business, it might be wise to provide such an area.
Leaving your car keys hidden behind a wheel is only safe if no one knows the hiding place and taking them onto the water is only an option if it doesn’t contain a chip. The best thing is if there is a safe place to leave them for the length of a session. Naturally it isn’t required to provide enough space for everyone to leave their spare kite/sail, but a locker designated to hold some keys and wallets.
– Lost & found box
It might not be a necessity but being a surf center means that anything that is found on the beach will be brought there. If we don’t label a place as lost & found it will just all get dumped in a corner and sooner or later get in the way.
Well, as a bonus feature it is a great thing to have for spontaneous guests who live far enough away as to have to make the session worth the trip.
An actual representation of the current wind speed is something requested so much that at our center we constantly a webcam page open as we do not have one ourselves.