If there’s one sport that’s native to our region, it’s surfing, and there are few who know the sport better than surfing power couple David Montgomery and Betsy Harris.
A Fernandina native, David began surfing on the island 20 years ago – and he’s never looked back. He actually surfed on the University of Florida surf team for three years and then worked three years with the Association of Surfing Professionals (now World Surf League). Betsy is equally dedicated to the sport, with such an impressive skill set on the water that she’s currently featured in the Women of Waves exhibit at the Florida Surf Museum in Cocoa Beach, FL. Both are also so accomplished in their surfing that they’re sponsored by surfboard brands. David is a Whisnant Surfboards team rider and Betsy is a Rozo Surfboards team rider.
Fortunately for all of us, they also have a passion for sharing what they’ve learned through a Fernandina Beach-based company that teaches surfing to all ages and skill levels. It’s called Surf Asylum.
Betsy explained it’s about much more than trying to ride a wave.
“We want to empower people of all ages to become confident, independent surfers. Lessons and camps go beyond standing up on a board, placing emphasis on ocean awareness, surfing fundamentals, etiquette and safety while maintaining that the most important aspect of surfing is having fun,” she said.
Right now, they’re in the midst of summer camps, where kids get to spend a full week catching waves with them. They also offer private and group lessons.
Other local moms have told me they do an amazing job with kids, and David will be the first to tell them to keep trying if they struggle at first. His own start at surfing was a little rough: it took an entire summer of riding white water before he could angle his board down the line. But he was hooked after that first experience of accelerating across the open wave face parallel to the beach, and that’s his hope for his students, too.
And lessons aren’t just for kids. How fun would it be to take surf lessons as a family? It’s never to late to learn. Betsy spent a lot of time around the ocean growing up, but didn’t give surfing a try until her mid twenties. Up and riding after just a couple of waves, she knew she had found her calling.
Private and group surf lessons are available year round for people of all ages and abilities – and Nassau County residents get a discount. Their week-long summer surf camps, open to kids ages 5-17, run from May 25th to August 7th. Birthday parties are also available. More information can be found at surf-asylum.com or by calling (904) 5834230.
Note: We’re proud to say Surf Asylum is a Mamamelia.com sponsor. We also want you to know Mamamelia only writes what is 100% our opinion. We just happen to think they’re really cool!