australia's surfing coast

from eden to bondi, to byron bay & beyond

Surfest Surf School

Surfest Surf School - // Australia's surfing coast //

Surfest Surf School started out in summer 2000 simply as an annual surf clinic held in conjunction with the iconic Newcastle surf event of the same name.

Owner-operator Rhys Smith (whose father was the founder of Surfest), was allocated sponsorship dollars to run the clinics, but soon realised the kids he was coaching once a year needed a development path to improve as boardriders.


Beginning full-time operations in 2003, Rhys rearranged his competitive season on the World Qualifying Series tour to focus on the surf school during the Australian summer.

Juggling a competition and coaching schedule weren’t quite enough though, and in August 2007 Rhys took over Sanbah surf shop in Newcastle. He did not have to look far for publicity either, having two months earlier surfed one of the strangest temporary surf breaks ever to appear on Australia’s east coast.

When the Russian tanker Pasha Bulker ran aground on Newcastle’s Nobbys beach in June 2007, adrenaline junkie Rhys snuck in a few left-handers peeling off the 40,000-tonne ship.

Photographers from Waves magazine were on hand to capture the moment, as Rhys rode several wild waves alongside the tanker, securing a bizarre and unique place in Australian surfing history.


Surf School:
Surfest Surf School

Local beaches
Newcastle