If you’ve been to WRSC in the last 2 years, you’ve certainly met Kailani (aka Kai), an amazing surf instructor and our Surf Programs Manager as of January this year. She’s that spunky, friendly, petite little Costa Rican gal that so many of our guests love getting an opportunity to know. If you can’t spot Kai (given that she’s only a whopping 5’1″), you will definitely spot her miniature 4-pound Yorkie named Zeesha with the similar personality, following Kai wherever she goes at the camp. When not instructing in the water or managing the surf programs, she also teaches two of our great seminars “How Waves Work” and “How to Turn Your Longboard.”
After years of skateboarding, Kai started surfing at age 18 while living in Playa Hermosa and picked it up rather quickly, competing as a surfer within a year or two. She studied Hotel Management at Universidad Interamericana in San Jose, and it certainly shows in her dedication to customer service and her organizational skills.
We sat down with Kai to get her advice for beginner and intermediate surfers, her take on what makes WRSC different, and suggestions for some great music to listen to while you’re in Costa Rica.
What are the skills that you think every surfer should know, no matter what level?
“Anyone who surfs should know surf etiquette. These are the rules of the game. And before you start playing any game, you need to know the rules. This keeps you safe and keeps you from making enemies in the water! That’s the reason why we have a seminar here at WRSC on surf etiquette for all of our guests.”
What advice would you give to beginner surfers?
“Be fearless, be excited, be patient, and learn to love the ocean. And use alot of sunblock!”
What advice would you give to intermediate surfers?
“If you’re at WRSC, you have the opportunity to improve with an instructor who does this every day. Take advantage of that, and learn from them. No matter where you’re surfing, know your limitations. If you feel that the ocean is too strong for you when you’re out, then don’t push it. And use alot of sunblock!”
How do men and women surf differently?
“Generally, men tend to be more fearless, and women tend to be more cautious. I think both sides can learn a little bit from the other.”
Who is your surf hero?
“Rob Machado. He surfs for fun, not for competitions. He doesn’t care about showing the world how good he is. He just travels and surfs, and that is an ideology that I like.”
Do you still skateboard?
“Yeah. I skate here in Tamarindo and in Playa Negra. The skatepark at Volcano Brewing Company is one of the most amazing that I’ve ever been to. It has a variety of levels and an incredible view.”
Are there any sports that you’re bad at?
“I’m not good at basketball. I mean, come on, I’m only 5’1″! I’m also horrible at video games.”
Why do you like working at WRSC?
“I don’t like it. I LOVE it! It’s like one big family. We have the best instructors, an environment of teamwork, and so many loyal and appreciative guests. WRSC is different because it is a complete camp with an amazing location, right in front of one of the best beaches in the world to learn on. We don’t just provide lessons … we provide the whole package for learning: seminars, video analysis, and shaping demos. Plus, it’s kind of fun to boss around the rest of the male surf instructors! Lately, they’ve been calling me ‘Patrona,’ which means ‘boss’ in Spanish.”
You felt like you might drown twice and broke a bone in your face while surfing. What makes you keep going?
“Well, the first time I thought I was going to drown was soon after I started surfing, and I didn’t know how to handle the ocean yet. I love surfing, and even with those couple of bad experiences, I feel like I learned alot about how to respect and work with the ocean.”
Got any music suggestions for readers out there?
“I really like Slightly Stoopid, an American band that’s a mix of blues, reggae, hip-hop, and punk. And I like the reggae band Soldiers of Jah Army.”
Why do you think WRSC has the best surf instructors?
“Because we take our time picking them, training them, and growing them into fantastic instructors.”
If you weren’t running programs at a surf camp, what would you want to do with your life?
“I would love to be a psychologist.”
Anything interesting that most folks might not know about you?
“My grandfather was the Costa Rican Amabassador to the U.S. in the 1960′s. And I speak Spanish, English, and Portugese. I never studied English formally after the 3rd grade, but I heard my Dad speaking English to his friends, and I wanted to know what they were saying so bad that it motivated me to learn by listening!”
Any final thoughts?
“My Dad gave me the best advice growing up … ‘Love what you do, and do what you love.’”
The next time you’re down here, make sure to find Kai to give her your feedback on the surf programs.
Anybody else out there have a question or a shout-out for Kailani? Let’s hear it!