I had not been involved in surf PE for several years when I got the call from the Grauer School that my aquatic services were once again required.
So, last week, under cloudy skies with a crispy 2- to 3-foot swell running in 68-degree water, I joined a group of high school surfers.
The waves were gentle, what we used to call “granny waves,” something that suited me just fine, since I am not a granny, but the male equivalent.
As expected, the students were politely rowdy and stoked on getting into the water as a break from the reality of schoolwork.
While teen stoke, if harnessed, could power a city of a million for a month, the sheer joy of the Grauer School Surf PE instructor, Daniel Bocater, could provide 30 days of current to the entire state.
Bocater, as I soon discovered, is from Kauai and is the son of underground Pipeline surfing legend Davey Miller. He has the bloodlines, but did he have the moves? I wondered.
That question was answered when I turned my head to see Coach Bocater spinning a perfect air reverse, followed by a hard frontside hack, proving that he is the real thing.
The move not only caught my attention but that of the students in our care, and proved to be a teaching moment that words could not attain. “How did you do that?” was the number one question asked in the van on the way home from surfing that afternoon.
Bocater was not the first surf instructor I have known. I myself once taught a few lessons in Waikiki, in the late ’60s. Since then, I have accompanied Pat Weber, Hagan Kelley, Steve Pinner and Bob Edwards into the shallow end of the pool.
At Grauer, I worked with two excellent surf instructors, Brian Dugan and Sean Presi. They were both good surfers and, like every other surf coach I have known, they had their own styles of surfing and coaching.
Dugan, whose background is in the seemingly incongruent disciplines of English literature and outdoor adventuring, ran the class in a more traditional style. He did quite a bit of testing and ran various surf-related drills to accomplish his goals.
His approach proved successful as it led to the best surf team results in Grauer’s short history.
Presi, who was also an English teacher, was more relaxed in his methods. Seemingly adhering to the belief that the best way to improve surfing is simply by surfing, he was quick to load the boards and charge into the water, something every surfer in that van appreciated.
It’s difficult to say which style was better, and Bocater’s is a combination of Dugan’s and Presi’s methods. He is professional, safety conscious, courteous and ready to help any surfer needing assistance.
And he puts a high premium on the main reason any of us started surfing in the first place: enjoyment.
When not teaching at Grauer, Bocater runs classes for everyone from beginners to advanced surfers under the appropriately named Enjoy the Ride Surfing.
Bocater himself does just that, seemingly savoring each moment from the time the boards are loaded into the van, through each turn and the ride home, which is thick with chatter, endorphins, laughter and the inevitable question, “How did you do that?”
Learn more about Daniel Bocater and Enjoy the Ride Surfing by visiting enjoytheridesd.com.