What is your favorite travel memory?
I have many, but I guess the best you can feel when you are traveling is completely free with no responsibilities, no real plan and traveling with friends. When I was 22 years old I was with my two best mates traveling in Spain and France. We went to Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, which wasn't really our thing, so I left to go to San Sebastian in Spain's Basque region.
We had 3 surfboards, two backpacks and a tent between us and had the time of our lives. We stayed in San Sebastian for a few days but without waves we decided to leave for either Portugal or France. When we reached the train station we flipped a coin and it landed on France so we went directly to a Biarritz campsite and never looked back.
After Biarritz we hitch hiked to Hossegor, walked what seemed to be a marathon to the campsite in Seignosse, got caught in a serious weather system nearly blowing our tent (and us) away, but had the absolute time of our lives. Laughing, drinking, eating and just generally being free.
To this day Hossegor is still my favorite place on the planet and it's the feelings brought back by this trip 18 years ago that make it so.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I started the company myself eight and a half years ago. I had run businesses before, but never my own company. For the first few years I didn't even see it as a job. It was simply going on surfing adventures with newfound friends, many of which I still keep today.
Working in the travel industry has given me the opportunity to meet people from All over the world and share with them my passion for surfing and adventure travel.
It has opened my mind to new cultures and given me friends in many countries that I still visit. I have been inspired to learn new languages and don't take life too seriously these days.
Working as a surf coach in the early days of AST gave me an enormous amount of confidence both when talking to groups and to individuals and now I could speak in front of a thousand people and not raise a sweat.
While I don't get to teach that often these days, I am now developing my skills in digital marketing and business strategizing. So yes, again to cut an even longer story short, working at AST has helped me to grow A LOT!
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
If I had no restraints I would go on the 3 month course without doubt! To truly improve your surfing takes practice, the more you surf the better you get. But surfing is more than a sport for us, it's a lifestyle.
With all of my traveling journeys over the years (and there have been many), the best memories I have are of the times I didn't travel too much. I stayed for a month or more in the one town, got a job or simply surfed and partied. You get a chance to meet the locals, enjoy all the delights of the area, feel at home and become a local yourself. The best part is you make friends that last a lifetime.
The experiences you will have over 3 months of surfing, laughing, crying, partying and exploring Australia and making amazing friends are priceless memories that grow you as a person and can't be more fun. Not to mention at the end of 12 weeks your surfing skills and fitness levels will be at a stage where you can choose to enter the surfing industry as a career and enjoy the life that I do today!
What makes your company unique?
There are many things that make AST unique as a company and as a surf camp.
Firstly, the surf courses we give are exceptional. They are detailed, fun and are delivered by highly trained instructors. We take extreme care to ensure everyone is successful.
Secondly, we mix surfing 'the sport' with surfing 'the lifestyle'. What we do out of the water is just as important as in it. We show our clients a good time the whole time they are with us. We explore rainforests, jump of waterfalls, feed kangaroos, surf with dolphins, climb cliffs, party, have beach fires, BBQ's, visit extraordinary places and share our life with them.
Thirdly, the quality of our service is second to none. Amazing accommodation, epic food, and perfect locations unlike any other.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
This one is easy. It's hard work and having the right team around you. Hard work can't be replaced by anything. For anyone or anything to be successful they need to work hard and when the chips are down work harder. But nobody can do it alone. Having passionate, caring, hard working people around you makes it easy and fun.
When were you especially proud of your team?
I am always proud of my team. We have an amazing group of individuals that all care about respecting people, are humble and passionate.
One particular time that stands out is when we took 80 highly disabled students surfing. Many could not walk, could not speak or had serious personal contact problems. The care, spirit, enthusiasm that they showed injected so much life into these students and was overwhelming. A truly glowing representation of what life is all about.