The surf camp experience – we’ve all seen it, I’m sure some of you have been there. Packs lining the shore with pink, sun burnt faces, ostentatious rash vests circling a tanned alpha male with sunglasses down and cap back to front. A quick round of dry pop ups and in the crowd go, with said instructor flexing his guns at the ensemble of on lookers in preparation for a few evening drinks at the bar.
Sounds familiar right? But we all know that this is not what it’s all about. Thankfully, winds of change are in the air, and there’s a fresh wave of venues delivering a genuine surf experience to suit the most seasoned surfer, with no one leading this charge harder than Ticket to Ride.
With the recent opening of their Sri Lanka Surf House (Ahangama) they have a venue within a stones throw of a variety of breaks, packed with top of the range equipment, comfortable AC rooms and a team of professional instructors led by former women’s WCT surfer Nikita Robb.
Three years in the making, this surf house has been developed off the experiences TTR have running progressive surf tours across South Africa, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mozambique and the Philippines (to name a few…) since 2005.
“We’ve run tours all over the world, and started to become really frustrated at the so called ‘surfing experience’ we could see a lot of surf camps providing. Big groups, ropey equipment and often with sleazy (and underpaid) instructors, it’s become a complete cliché. The TTR trips have always been led by a blend of locals and genuine surfers all of whom take a long term view to our guests surfing progression. We’ve been running trips in Sri Lanka for years, and having operated our own accommodation on the snow side for years now felt like the right time to take the plunge and commit to operating a surf house experience like no other.” said TTRs Max Hepworth-Povey, who’s leading the charge locally having recently committed to moving out to Sri Lanka after spending ten years operating tours on the island.
In the surf house guests can have the option of a half-board stay, including only breakfast and dinner, or a full package which includes 5 full days of unparalleled surf coaching. But, when we say surf coaching we don’t just mean a series of isolated lessons, the week is constructed of a variety of in water coaching, classroom assessment, video analysis and surf theory sessions. The week is fuelled with a protein rich diet and kept supple with specifically surf engineered yoga sessions taken on the seaview rooftop balcony (which doubles up as a day time chill area, and rooftop bar).
Guests are offered a range of boards starting at entry level foam boards, dropping to mid length NSP hard boards, a range of Soft Tech short boards and finishing with a premium range of DVG short boards from 5”10 to 6”8 (meaning no one need fly with their board saving air fares and faff.) Anyone opting into the lessons can expect a max ratio of 5:1, and thankfully guests are spared the “branded kook” experience, with rash vests being optional. A photographer will shoot the majority of sessions, offering a content package at the end of the week.
The 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 as Dylan Lightfoot and Jordy Maree, whilst travelling the world with the South African Junior Surf team across the major tournaments.
“We’ve devised a super versatile program here, full of manoeuvre breakdown, a variety of drills, video analysis and very specific feedback. A lot of our guests are returners meaning that our instructors have a long standing rapport with them, which keeps them coming back. We are doing our bit to change the way surfing is taught across the board, and give our guests the foundations for long term improvement.” Says Chris.
TTR are also taking their eco credentials seriously with an in house zero plastic agenda and a rigorous minimal food waste programme and have also ensured that the house employs more Sri Lankan than Western staff.
The house has 3 triple dorm rooms and 6 AC twin/double rooms. The full package, based on two people in the twin AC room, costs £618pp and includes daily breakfasts, 5 evening meals, mid morning snacks, 6 surf lessons, 5 guided surfs, 3 video analysis sessions, 2 surf theory classes, and daily yoga. For those surfers on more of a shoe string the dorm rooms are available on a bed only arrangement from £20pppn a triple dorm, with other services available on an “opt in” arrangement and settled via a cashless tab system at the end of their stay.
For more information visit https://www.tickettoridegroup.com/surf-house-sri-lanka/
View a gallery of the surf house and facilities: