Owen Stoneman – “The Internationalist”
Owen Stoneman is one my favorite characters down here. He lives for surfing. Owen is one of the few who’ve contemplated surfing on a larger, historical scale. He has an innate appreciation for all styles and forms of wave riding, and even commented favorably on my old guy Skip Fry approach to riding a wave – 12 foot single fin, trimlining, California slouch, kind of just standing there feeling it all, like music. He’s a smart dude who could be living a number of different of human roles and profiles. Somehow his degree in environmental resource management seems appropriate to his chosen path. But Owen has chosen the path of what I call the ‘Bohemian Surf Nomad’, kind of like Nosara’s version of Dave Rastovich. He rides all sizes and styles of surfboards expertly, and somehow is able to switch back and forth eloquently. Owen embraces day to day life as a surfing metaphor: ‘whatever come s your way……ride it’. He is a top-notch surfing teacher and coach and is very serious and focused on each individual lesson as if it has deep meaning and importance – which we all knows it does when we are in the student’s position. Owen has spent many years hoping the globe from surf school to surf school, riding the seasons, following the endless summer, and logging countless hours of water time. I recently learned that the love of his life, lovely Belle and he, are going to have a son. They are both over the moon about this and it makes me wonder how it will all play out for them in “surf metaphor” terms. I’ve never seen the guy with dry hair – likely a trait that will be passed on to the little guy.
PL: Where are you originally from?
OWEN: The UK, guess you’d call me an ‘Englishmon’
PL: When did you discover surfing?
OWEN: I started in 1993 in Cornwall. People don’t realize that England is basically an island surrounded by the North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Sea, Irish Sea, and Atlantic Ocean. Cornwall is on the southern tip with some beautiful beaches, good swell exposure.
Geography Lesson – where’s England? Cornwall Coast [right photo]
PL: At what point did you discover this “knack” for teaching people how to surf?
OWEN: I had always lifeguarded in Cornwall; I was close to the sea. When surfing found me I became obsessed. At seventeen I became a full-on surf bum, I would hang out on the beaches of France all summer. This was before the global surf school boom. People would always ask me, “hey, can you teach me how to surf?” I gave it a go and really liked it; I was good at it and saw people renewed by the experience. It dawned on me that ‘surf instructor’ could be a valid career and keep me closely connected to the waves.
PL: And the rest is history as they say! Where have you taught surfing?
OWEN: Cornwall, Canary Islands, Australia, Portugal, Morocco, Ireland, Panama,
Costa Rica. When the season comes to a close here in Nosara I head off to somewhere where it is just getting started.
PL: I’ve heard that ski instructors and white water rafting guides do the same thing, kind of follow the sun, the old Endless Summer cliché!
PL: You have a huge following of students who return and request you for lessons. There is a wide range of ability levels that you work with, and you regard all with equal concentration and intensity. You seem to take your lessons very seriously. What is your approach to teaching?
OWEN: In my own surfing I look carefully at the waves and “mind surf” for a few minutes. I look for sections, rip tides, shoal areas, and channels. To me surfing is about tapping the energy from the source (the wave) and flowing with it. I try to instill this with my students, I want them to tune into the elements, be like water! I especially like coaching intermediate and advanced students
PL: Your almost “psychic” ability to read waves has earned you the moniker ‘Owen Almighty’.
OWEN: You’re a funny guy….
PL: Local legend says you are the ‘immaculate’ offspring of Coconut Harry and LuLu?
OWEN: That’s been going around for a long time! = ???
PL: You surf so many different boards, what’s your favorite?
Owen: Whatever one I’m riding at the moment……
Owen conducting his weekly video analysis class for Safari Surf School Students
PL: Your thoughts on next year?
OWEN: I am really excited about the opening of the Olas Verdes Resort. It will be an amazing base for Safari Surf School and I am looking forward to being a part of it.
Hamming it up with Safari Presidente Tim Marsh