When in Rome do as the Romans do. When in Rincón, surf. To the uninitiated, Puerto Rico is an undiscovered surf Mecca just a brief flight from JFK.  With numerous, consistent off shore reef breaks around this north western corner of the island, it is possible to catch a perfect wave in the warm waters of the Caribbean with little trouble, as long as you have the fundamentals of surfing down.  That is where 787 Surf School steps in.

Swiping its name from the Puerto Rican Area code: 787, what sets it apart from many other surf schools is there strong sense of safety, fun and a low teacher to student ratio.  The school was founded and is run by veteran Brazilian surfer Roger Wagner.

Upon meeting Roger and talking about going for a lesson, there were many immediate clues demonstrating that he took teaching seriously.  He underscored the importance of safety and how it is important to have at least one instructor in the water at all times that is CPR certified and has the basic emergency skills, should anything require immediate attention.  Along the same point of safety was the need to keep the ratio of students to instructors low.  Its an easily understood point that, with fewer people in the water sharing an instructor, the more personalized of a lesson one will get.  787 also employs only locals, who know the breaks well and where the best place is to take out a student/s in order to match the surf conditions to the students skill.

When Roger picked up us in his surf van, everything was geared toward a good time and getting the most from the experience.  Roger’s two surf dogs came along for the ride and kept things lively as we headed to the ideal spot for the day’s conditions.  The beach we came to was beautiful and calm, too calm. Hopping out of the van and strolling down to the sand, we saw crystal blue as clear as glass, and nearly as reflective.  Inviting for swimming, but a major downer for surfing. While there, we saw another teacher from a different school out with a couple of students in the water.  The teacher was catching a few of the small waves that were on the edge of rideability.  The students never caught one and seemed only out there to watch, since they weren’t getting much instruction or help from the instructor.

 

What we saw seemed to drive home the difference between a school or instructor who just wants to make money to support their surf habit and a school or instructor who cares about providing a quality surf education.  We ended up never going out for our first surf lesson.  The conditions where obviously poor and our instructor didn’t want to waste our time trying to make something out of nothing just to get our money.  Just one more reason to return to Rincón, where we can look forward to getting solid surf lessons at 787, that will enable us to surf with confidence anywhere.

– Jeffery Owens and Ava Fedorov