”How a young adrenaline junkie with far too much energy found his way from Holland to Sydney working at one of the busiest and most successful surf schools in Australia”
Our awesome Senior instructor Fred had the opportunity to sit down with Lars to chat about surfing, family, charging big waves and everything in between. However, the big question was, how did a young Lars Zeekaf from Holland find himself working smack bang in the centre of Australia’s leading surf schools?
“I was a climbing instructor, a Kayak instructor and worked as a White-Water Rafting guide in South America”
Anyone who has had the opportunity to either work with Lars or be taught by him can agree on two things, the first being his expertise within the art of surf coaching are second to none, and the second being he is constantly obtaining an energy level most of us could only dream of.
Lars’ story begins in the heart of the extreme sports industry, over his time he has had the opportunity to place himself in situations most of us live to avoid. From teaching climbing to jumping into white water rapids to saving people who have fallen overboard, Lars could only be said to be comfortable where others are most definitely not. However, when Lars first started surfing at the age of 18 (quite old in the surf community) “surfing completely took over”. After completing just a week at a European surf camp, Lars quickly applied for a job the next summer and spent a month immersing himself in surf culture, applying his customer service skills whilst learning the trade of surf coaching. Although the surf addiction was alive and well in Lars, how did he make his way to Sydney?
“When I first arrived, I just worked in a restaurant to make some money to start off, literally across the road from Lets Go Surfing at Maroubra.”
Anyone who has relocated countries knows very well the difficulties and challenges that stand in the way of starting a new life. From Visas, finding work and finding a place to live I don’t need to go into detail regarding the stresses Lars and his partner went through to get here. However, Lars’ partner being a nurse and himself well qualified in both customer service and tourism, Sydney seemed to be the unicorn they had been looking for to relocate. Of course, Lars needed sponsorship to stay in Australia, and this almost happened with a restaurant overlooking Lets Go Surfing Maroubra, however, the allure of surfing coaching was far too much for Lars.
After seeing the surf school operating, he quickly applied and after “numerous long chats” Lets Go Surfing agreed to sponsor Lars. Now being constantly surrounded by surfing and surf culture Lars was quickly drawn to yet another extreme Hobby.
“We took the gamble and went out with a handful of others, and it went pear shaped within 30 minutes of us being in the water.”
Kayaking, Climbing and white-water rafting, it’s not surprising Lars wanted to seek out the more thrilling side of surfing “anything to get that Heart rate up”. His natural gravitation towards the more dangerous side of surfing has not been one of smooth sailing. A story Lars hesitates to bring up due to its mental effect, simply being the day, everything went wrong. During one of the larger swells to hit Sydney, Lars and his crew of nutcases began to weigh up their chances of getting a few waves at Wedding Cake Island. The wind was expected to reach 70-80kmh on shore, things as you can imagine went downhill quickly.
“I had the biggest free fall down the wave I’ve ever experienced it snapped my leg rope and that board has never been seen again.”
Lars experienced a hold down whereby he was dragged underwater the longest he ever experienced, only to find his board missing, no breath in his lungs and one option, to begin the long swim into Coogee from wedding cake (1km).
“Still haunting me now for three years” although the long weighing trauma of an ugly wipe out stays with every surf. Lars has continued to immerse himself in surf coaching, big wave surfing and waterman sports such as diving and spearfishing. This will be Lars’s 10th summer at Let’s Go Surfing. A young madman from Holland has changed Let’s Go Surfing for the better and become a cheeky, recognizable and trust-worthy face anywhere in Sydney where there is water.