"I don't judge, I just want to understand their behavior," says surf coach Ze Seabra, in the latest episode of EDP's Surf For Tomorrow titled Never Rest. "The only goal is to help them in their individual performance."
Seabra knows a little thing about performance and behavior. The former professional surfer and big wave surfer took a teenaged Tiago Pires and helped him become Portugal's first CT surfer.
After 20 years of top-flight coaching, he then started a degree in advanced psychology in 2013, eventually graduating with Sports Psychology Master's Degree in 2019.
No wonder then that he was chosen by the Portuguese renewable energy company to mentor five Iberian groms; João Mendonça, Gabriela Dinis, Matias Canhoto, Hans and Kai Odriozola, in the Surf For Tomorrow program. Its' aim is to help the surfers reach their ultimate goal; to one day surf on the CT.
"For me, surfing represents a freedom and a type of unstructure," says the series narrator and 1977 World Champion Shaun Tomson. "So it's interesting to see how this program adds structure to the kids' development and we can watch, in real-time, the results. "
Tomson's work on the series has had him reflect on the changes that have happened to professional surfing since he helped make it a profession in the 1970s. The role of the coaching is just one aspect. Even after his World Title, the role of a surf coach didn't exist. Eventually, he had to help invent the role.
"In the early 1980s, I lost my dad suddenly, who was my biggest source for advice and motivation. I approached Ian Cairns, who was in his last year on tour, and I said I needed help," says Tomson.
Cairns, a successful Australian professional surfer, took on the gig and became the sport's first paid coach. The pair set out a five-year plan, and Tomson says he achieved almost all the goals. By 1985, he had captured more international tour victories than any other competitor. Cairns would go on to form the NSSA and become one of the most influential coaches and mentors in surfing.
"I saw way back then that coaching was validated and also needed," Tomson said. "So with these young kids in Europe who are working with these great people, and as a team, it can help them immeasurably. As long as they maintain the stoke."
To help maintain the stoke, and to progress all areas of the athletes' surfing, the episodes feature a boat trip to the Maldives. Again, a trip that a teenage Tonson couldn't have imagined was possible for a young surfer.
After enduring rough seas and a boat accident that resulted in the loss of all the film crew's camera gear, the team regroup and score an epic, huge swell in one of surfing's great tropical paradises. With solid surf over shallow coral reefs, was another test and where Seabra was on hand to see how the groms reacted, and performed.
"All the surfers stepped up when the waves got huge," Seabra said, citing João Mendonça as the standout. "It was inspirational to see these young men and women commit 100 percent and make huge steps in their dream to become professional surfers. It's all part of the learning process."