His “old man”, as he calls him, was travelling around the Middle East when he suddenly fell ill and was flown to Thailand for treatment.
Not long after, Sebastian’s father decided to set up a small hotel in Patong, this was around 40 years ago, and at the same time met Sebastian’s mother.
Here Sebastain tells The Phuket News about his life on the island, surfing, and how fitness and surfing go hand-in-hand.
What got you into surfing?
We used to have swim training twice a day, so it was inevitable we would become water babies. After school we’d spend the afternoons at the beach – our father always taught us to see how important nature is, how beautiful it is when pristine.
This was back when leatherback turtles called the beach in Patong their nesting site and the bay was regularly visited by whale sharks to feed on plankton. I love the ocean and the day I saw someone surfing it was just another excuse to spend more time at the beach.
Starting out on an island with small gutless waves – how did you improve your surfing performance?
Initially it was difficult – learning to get up on a board and learning how the ocean is always moving. I made a deal with my parents though; good grades in exchange for Indonesia surf trips for two months during the summer holidays. This allowed me to improve quickly as I got to visit many parts of Indonesia; Bali, Mentawai, Nias, Hinakos.
What does surfing offer, give and teach you?
I am not religious but surfing is like going to church for me. As much as it is physical activity – you are also always in the moment, observing the ocean, how the water moves, where to go to increase your chances of catching a good wave.
Surfing allows me to enter the ocean in a variety of conditions with confidence and respect for mother nature. But most importantly it keeps me humble – I am always a better person when I come in after surfing.
Hayden talks about surfing being our medicine and it is true – surfing commands respect and positively impacts all areas of my life.
What’s your best advice for swell starved surfers and maintaining surfing fitness?
Challenge yourself, travel, explore other islands around South East Asia and if you can’t get any waves spend time in the ocean regardless. Swimming helps a lot, flexibility helps a lot, using surfing exercises to stay in shape is a good idea.
How did you develop your mind and body so that when bigger, heavier surf arrives you can handle it?
I feel there’s a fair balance of physical and mental training involved. Knowing your limit is the most important. Being aware of what you can and can’t do and knowing when to push it that little bit further is very important. Sometimes you just have to go and find out.
One thing I’ve learned in surfing is that when I doubt my self or ability to make it (a wave) – it does not end well.
Obviously having great surfing fitness and being in the water as often as possible is a game changer.
Maintaining surf fitness is vital when you live in a spot with a long flat seasons – how do you stay surf fit and ready for bigger waves?
Bigger waves means more energy in the ocean and usually means longer wipe outs and heavier hold downs. Being in top physical surfing fitness is huge when catching big waves, especially when needing that extra speed to get into the wave early.
I aim to get in the water as often as possible and also use surfing exercises to keep my confidence high.
Surfing paddle fitness – what’s you take on it ?
In short – if you don’t have good paddle fitness surfing is a lot less fun. Without good paddle fitness you catch less waves and your shoulders just don’t seem to work they way you want them to.
Paddling fitness is key to any surfing exercise program, so during the flat season I aim to swim, paddle and of course explore other islands with great surf.
How about duck diving and just catching loads of waves – any tricks or techniques?
The best advice is to improve your paddle fitness and paddling technique – you will catch SO MANY more waves. Paddle fast into approaching waves to duck-dive… look for rip currents to help you paddle out in… and paddle fast to get through the break line after each wave.
Any surfing injuries and your favourite wave?
Injuries suck yet they are a part of any sport – especially if you push yourself. Flexibility is really important both for performance and when taking a beating… so is strength come to think of it. I hit the reef on a boat trip in Indonesia and now I’m left with a lovely “surf tattoo”.
Best wave I’ve ever ridden occurred in Asu (Hinako Islands), biggest and longest barrel ever with picture evidence, it lifts me up just thinking about it.
Leaving Phuket for three-four years inland studying at university – how did that feel?
Oh man it was so tough. Surfing fitness went straight downhill once I left for Europe. I was super happy to come back to an island with the ocean, and in preparation for my return I did a few sessions at the gym just to activate my muscles and get in the right head space.
Phuket is a pretty amazing place – I was psyched to be coming back.
Any future surfing dreams?
I’m looking into learning how to shape – not necessarily to sell but I’m interested in making my own surfboard – and obviously continue to surf around the world.
Hayden Rhodes (Club Manager of Phukets Finest Health Club - RPM Health Club) is the creator of Surf Training Secrets.com and is known for his enthusiasm and lifelong love of health, fitness, personal development and surfing. He has been helping people improve their surfing and snowboarding around the world for more then 20 years.
Hayden believes everyone has the ability to improve their lives and promotes health as much as he promotes fitness. He continues to study, surf and snowboard around the world and looks forward to helping you up grade your lifestyle. Visit SurfTrainingSecrets.com
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