The Sybarite spoke to George Stoy, professional surf, and alpine sports instructor, to talk about founding Cornwall-based George’s Surf School, traveling the world, and how to be happy.
Sport has always been a huge passion in George Stoy’s life. Learning to ski as a child in Austria sparked a lifelong love for adrenaline-inducing activities, and now, with 15 years experience under his belt working in surf and ski schools throughout the world, George saw an opportunity and a gap in the market to start his own business. Driven to teach surf lessons in a unique and more sophisticated way, he set up George’s Surf School in Polzeath, Cornwall.
“There is also a history of building businesses on both sides of my family so it was a natural progression”, George says. “I spent a lot of time with my grandfather and he taught me a great deal about how to build a positive, sustainable business.”
George says that the difference between other surf schools and his own is the culture; “We only offer private lessons delivered by experienced instructors who are over 25. They are athletes and teachers who are trained to guide everyone from beginners to advanced surfers. Our carefully structured modular progression program is designed to build water skills, strong surfing technique and ocean and water safety knowledge.” To top it all off, lessons can be taught in English, French, Spanish and German.
So what is they key to running and sustaining a successful surf school? “The first is retaining great instructors by creating a positive progressive environment where they are motivated to develop their skills through learning and teaching”, George says. “The second is the number of people we look after on an ongoing basis. Sharing something you love and guiding others on their surfing journey is really rewarding, as is earning a living out of coaching sport.”
George cites “having fun at work and always learning” as the two most important things to him career-wise. In the future, the sportsman hopes “to keep delivering the best lessons and experience in the ocean for everyone who surfs with us.”
Besides his love of sport, George is also a fan of art, “I’m not sure where the original fascination came from” he says. “My best friend is a well-respected artist and I’ve spent a huge amount of time visiting galleries, exhibitions and openings with him since we were teenagers. I guess I have always had a fascination with the creative process and expression.”
For a keen sportsman and someone that splits their time living between Polzeath and the Swiss Alps, it comes as no surprise that Stoy has traveled to some of the most unique and beautiful corners of the world, “I’m keen to get to Cuba, Costa Rica, The Maldives, and Japan over the next few years”, he says. “City breaks in Europe are always great for inspiration and giving my body some R&R time. Visiting friends in Berlin is next on the list!”
Despite this wanderlust, George says that he will always love surfing at home in Cornwall. “I’ve discovered some magical places and met amazing people looking for waves. I’ve been fortunate to spend time Fiji and Oahu which definitely pushed me.”
George is at his happiest “riding a challenging wave as well as possible. I like moments of solitude. Spending time in the ocean and climbing mountains gives you that.”
“The best way to see the world is with a board under your arm”, Stoy says. I don’t doubt that at all.
By Aimee Phillips