Venao Surf School, Playa Venao, Panama

Venao Surf School : Empowerment Through Surf

Playa Venao GuideAS FEATURED IN VENAO GUIDE, the official Playa Venao guide (written by E. Fournier, 11 July 2023)

Meet the founders of the new Venao Surf School. Through this interview, Anita and Yasmine share their vision and passion behind this innovative women-powered surf school.

1. Who are the women behind the surf school?

Behind Venao Surf School, you have two inspiring and talented women who are passionate about surfing and sharing their knowledge with others.

Anita, Co-founder and Head Coach

Anita is a formidable force in the world of surfing who has carved her own path as a surf athlete, coach, and the driving force behind Venao Surf School.

From the early days of riding her first waves, Anita’s passion for surfing consumed her. Fueled by her desire to push boundaries and challenge herself, she perfected her surfing skills through countless hours of practice and dedication.

As a surf athlete, Anita’s accomplishments are outstanding. She is part of the Russian Olympic surf team and also won many national championships in shortboard and longboard in Russia and Argentina (where she grew up).

Driven by her belief in the transformative power of surfing, Anita has been coaching surfing for more than two decades to adults and kids.

Yasmine, Co-founder and Operations Manager

Yasmine is a former investment banker turned surf enthusiast. With her strong business acumen and passion for the ocean, she made the leap from the world of finance to the world of waves.

After more than a decade in finance, Yasmine embarked on a life-changing journey, drawn to the freedom and joy of surfing. Her story is an inspiration to those who seek fulfillment beyond the confines of traditional careers.

As the Operations Manager of Venao Surf School, she brings her sharp organizational skills and strategic mindset to ensure that everything runs smoothly both on and off the waves.

2. What was the motivation to create this women-powered surf school?

Our motivation to create Venao Surf School comes from two strong convictions.

We believe that a holistic and well-rounded surf coaching program is key to unlocking one’s full surfing potential. Surfing is not only about riding waves but also involves a range of physical and mental skills that can be developed both in and out of the water. We wanted to create a surf school that will empower students to become the best surfers they can be. It’s about creating an environment where they can develop their surfing skills as well as their physical fitness and mental resilience to lead healthier, more balanced and fulfilling lives.

We also have a strong desire to provide a safe and empowering space for women to learn and progress in their surfing. We believe that teaching surfing to women involves considering their physical fitness, learning styles, and the challenges they may face in a male-dominated surfing culture. With Venao Surf School, we want to focus on creating a supportive learning environment. Our goal is to empower women to overcome their fears, challenge themselves, and discover their true potential both in and out of the water.

Surfing has brought so much joy into our lives and with Venao Surf School, we want to instill some of this joy in our students.

3. How does Venao Surf School differ from the other surf schools?

At Venao Surf School, we offer a unique experience that sets us apart from the other surf schools.

Highly Qualified Instructor. We believe that being a great surfer doesn’t make you a great coach and this is an issue that many surf schools are facing. At Venao Surf School, our surf coach is not only a highly skilled surf athlete, but she is also a certified and experienced surf coach with more than two decades of coaching experience. With her guidance and personalized instruction, our students can progress at their own pace and feel confident in their surfing abilities.

Comprehensive Approach. Many surf schools have a reputation as having nothing to offer surfers beyond pushing them in a wave. At Venao Surf School, we believe in a holistic approach to surf coaching. Our programs not only focus on teaching the technical aspects of surfing but also incorporate on-land training, fitness exercises, and mental preparedness techniques. By addressing the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of surfing, we provide our students with all the necessary tools to become the best surfer they can be and to continue progressing with their surfing independently.

Personalised Approach. We understand that every student is unique, with different goals and abilities. That’s why we offer customized programs tailored to individual needs. Whether our student is a Senior looking to catch his first wave or an experienced surfer aiming to refine her skills, we provide personalized instruction and guidance to help each student reach their specific surfing goals.

Women Empowerment. Our surf school places a strong emphasis on women’s empowerment in and through surfing. We have created a supportive and inclusive learning environment tailored to meet the specific needs of women surfers (as further discussed in the previous question).

4. What type of methodology is used for the classes?

Our surf classes are built on a dynamic and effective methodology to provide students with a solid foundation in surfing skills while ensuring a safe and fun learning experience.

Progressive Learning. We follow a progressive learning approach, starting with the surf basics and gradually building upon foundational skills. We break down the techniques into manageable steps, allowing students to practice each concept before moving on to more advanced maneuvers. This ensures a strong skill progression and a solid understanding of the fundamentals.

Personalised Coaching. Each student has unique strengths, challenges, and learning styles. We provide individualized instructions to meet the specific needs of each student. By understanding and addressing individual requirements, we help our students maximize their learning potential and progress at their own pace.

Video Analysis and Feedback. We believe video analysis is a valuable tool to enhance learning. All our students’ surf sessions are recorded, capturing their techniques and maneuvers. We then review the footage together, offering constructive feedback, guidance and on-land drills for improvement.

Hands-On Practice. Our students spend ample time in the water, applying the techniques they’ve learned under the guidance of our coach. They also receive immediate feedback and adjustments to help refine their skills and develop muscle memory.

On-land training is part of all our surf coaching sessions. By practicing specific skills on-land, our students gain a better understanding of the mechanics behind each maneuver, ensuring a solid foundation and developing muscle memory before applying those skills in the water.

Safety First. At Venao Surf School, safety is a priority. During our surf sessions, we cover topics such as ocean awareness and surf etiquette. We teach our students to read surf conditions, identifying safe entry and exit points and managing risks. We also maintain a low student-to-instructor ratio with a focus on one- to-one coaching to ensure constant supervision and provide a safe learning environment.

Fun and Supportive Environment. We believe that learning should be enjoyable and inclusive. At Venao Surf School, we foster a positive and supportive environment, creating a space where students feel encouraged to ask questions, take calculated risks, make mistakes, and celebrate their progress.

5. What’s next for Venao Surf School?

We are looking forward to the exciting developments and opportunities on the horizon for Venao Surf School.

New Location. We are currently operating from the amazing location of our partner, the beach front restaurant Ruben in Playa Venao. We are in the process of getting a new physical space for Venao Surf School with our partner.

Surf Retreat. We are very excited to launch our first Surf Camp in Playa Venao from the 6th to 14th of January 2024. We have worked very hard to put together a comprehensive and fun camp for surfers of all levels. You can find more information on our website.

Continued Education and Training. At Venao Surf School, we are committed to our own growth and development. We will continue to invest in our education and training to stay up to date with the latest coaching techniques and safety  protocols. By expanding our knowledge and skills, we ensure that our students receive the highest quality instruction and coaching.

Building a Strong Community. We believe in the power of community and the support it provides in the surfing journey. We will focus on building a strong and inclusive community of women surfers. This will include organizing social events, creating online platforms for networking and sharing experiences, and fostering a supportive environment where women surfers can connect and inspire one another.

Social Initiatives. At Venao Surf School, we strongly believe in the power of surfing to bring positive change and create meaningful impact in the community. In the future, we plan to be involved in social projects aimed at making a difference in the lives of underprivileged youth through surfing. 


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