Surf’s up – School’s in at Charlie’s

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By Kate Foreman

Living on the beach is the ultimate dream for surfer Charlie Bainger.

He has spent many a year chasing the sun and waves around the world but not a lot comes close to time spent at Robe on the Limestone Coast – in particular Robe’s Long Beach.

It’s where Charlie puts a smile on the face of many a youngster wanting to learn how to catch a wave or two.

Charlie’s Surf School operates in the summer peak season, on some weekends and during the school holidays.

It’s one of those businesses that just “happens” without any real ‘planning’.

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It was in 2009, after Charlie found he was providing lessons for more people than just family and friends, that Charlie’s Surf School came to be.

“It kind of snowballed, people were calling me and the local surf shop was dobbing me in for lessons,” Charlie says.

“It sort of grew from there, I never thought it would be as big as it is today.”

During his time travelling the world, Charlie gave surf lessons in Portugal, France and Fiji.

“I would do four months in each spot, so from December until April I would be in Australia, then I would do the European summer between April and September, and then head to Fiji until December for the cyclone season,” Charlie adds.

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Surfing has always been in Charlie’s blood.

Originally from Avenue Range, he spent his summers, weekends and holidays at the family shack in Robe- graduating year to year from a boogie board, to a “foamy” and then finally buying his first short board when he was about 12 years old.

“I had saved up all this money for that board, and then I snapped it the first surf I had with it on Long Beach, I was devastated,” says Charlie.

Charlie went on to study International Business at the University of Adelaide as well as gaining his surf coach accreditation with Surfing Australia – it was the latter that turned out to define his career.

Charlie’s Surf School is less like a job, and more a way of life that has its special moments.

“You just need one little kid to turn around with a big smile on their face and say, ‘this is the best day of my life’,” says Charlie.

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Charlie encourages those learning to surf to have a minimum of three lessons if possible.

“The first lesson can be a bit frustrating because we spend 30 to 40 minutes on the sand,” Charlie explains.

“It’s because I try to make people feel really safe, comfortable and confident about the ocean before they get into the water.”

“You could not get a better or safer surf beach than Long Beach, it really is paradise for a surf coach.”

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