22 February 2024

World-class surfers on board at Bulli High to help produce future surf champs

| Graeme Burrill
Start the conversation
Five students with surfboards.

Bulli High surfing students Kyran Paxton, Maddie Davies, Leif Petersen, Leyla Blue and Kalani Paxton. Photo: Billie Acosta.

For a school that sits so close to the beach, it’s only natural that surfing and Bulli High go together.

Over its 67-year history, the school has produced a number of students who have been prominent in Australian surfing culture, including Kim Woolridge (ASP World Surfing Tour 1993-2006), Scarborough Boardriders Club president Christian De Clouett and DP Surfboards owner Dylan Perese.

The Sandon Point Boardriders club was even formed within the school grounds in the early 1980s.

READ ALSO Want to live your Kelly Slater dreams this summer? Here’s your guide to the secret rules of surfing

One of only a small number of public schools to be situated so close to the beach, it makes it the perfect location to have activities connected with the ocean, and starting this year, the school is introducing a new dedicated surf program to the curriculum.

Teacher and head coach Ben Deans said it was something that the school needed for a long time.

“Being situated so close to some really amazing waves and located in a region that has so many great surfers, it makes a lot of sense to have the program,” he said.

Bulli High student surfing.

A student catches a wave during surf lessons. Photo: Billie Acosta.

The overall aim of the program is to help produce world champion surfers from within the school community. It also has a goal of becoming one of Australia’s leading surf schools within coming years.

“It’s going be a great opportunity to nurture some of our young, talented surfers and improve their competitive surfing,” Ben said.

Along with Ben, the school has assembled a world-class line-up of coaches, including former ASP World Champion and Sport Australia Hall of Fame inductee Pam Burridge, WQS competitor and Cronulla Surfing Academy’s Blake Johnston, and Australian champion surfer, WQS competitor and Illawarra Surf Academy’s Nic Squiers.

Following trials at the start of the term, the coaches selected 15 students who will study a specialised curriculum, created with a range of keen educational, business, NSW surfing pathways and alumni supporters.

Pam Burridge is onboard to help the next generation of surfers throughout the year.

“I’m very interested in technique and form. If I can be of use and cast my eye over it, develop some better surfers with good technique and also help them reach their potential,” she said.

Four people watching students surf.

Bulli High surf coaches keep an eye on their students – Karl Lavis, Kim Woolridge, Pam Burridge and Ben Deans.

Bulli High School Principal Denise James is supportive of the new surf program and is right behind the students as they follow their passion.

“They’re dedicated; they’re out there every day training,” she said.

“It takes such discipline. And I also love the fact that they’re supporting each other.

“I think that that’s a beautiful thing to witness when students encourage each other to be the best versions of whatever they’re doing. And if surfing is that, then I’m all for it.”

READ ALSO Kiama surfer saves surfboards from landfill and turns them into art

Sessions each week for the students, including the regular Wednesday afternoon sport, will be in and out of the water, bringing an all-round approach to their development.

“We’ll have two afternoons a term where we will work on social media, making clips to help out sponsors, mindfulness, breathing exercises, to help their progression in competitive surfing,” Ben said.

And it’s a busy first term for the students with two surfing competitions in the coming weeks at Newcastle and Port Macquarie and then more to come in Term 2.

“Surfing in general is becoming a much more credible sport since it’s been included in the Olympics, it’s becoming much more professional and taken a lot more seriously,” Ben said.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.