Surf’s (still) up: La Jolla Shores surf schools modify as coronavirus makes waves

Students at Surf Diva's surf school in La Jolla must wear masks while on land.

The world may be navigating uncharted waters when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the surfing community in La Jolla Shores is still staying afloat with heavy modifications.

At Everyday California and Surf Diva, two businesses on Avenida de la Playa that offer surf lessons, the sizes of surfing classes have been reduced, new disinfecting procedures have been implemented and store operations have been changed.

“We’ve implanted a lot of new procedures just to make sure everything is thoroughly cleaned, wiping down highly touched areas, sanitizing gear,” said Everyday California General Manager Kama Hurwitz. “And we recently installed a Pro-Cell UV [ultraviolet] light cleanser with carbon air scrubber into our air duct unit. So our AC filters the air in our shop and the UV light destroys the molecular bond of airborne bacteria and viruses.”

The UV light cleanser was installed the last week of June.

Following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, staff cleans surfboards and paddles in between customers.

Everyday California General Manager Kama Hurwitz cleans a paddleboard with sanitizing spray.
Everyday California General Manager Kama Hurwitz cleans a paddleboard with sanitizing spray.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“We also modified our check-in process to make it simple and seamless so people are spending less time in the store,” Hurwitz said. “While people are inside, they have been really good at respecting each other’s space. A lot of the people that are doing these activities [like surfing] don’t seem too scared by the virus, hence why they are leaving their house to do these things. But they are being respectful of the precautions everyone needs to take.”

Further, the number of participants allowed on tours and in lessons has decreased to promote social distancing en route to and at the beach.

“Being able to operate in an outdoor space has been an attraction, and being in the ocean is a way for people to de-stress during these times, and people have been looking for an outlet,” Hurwitz said. “Being out in a body of water helps people put their day and week behind them and be in the moment. The physical aspect of surfing and kayaking is also really important.”

A few blocks away, Surf Diva also has reduced and rearranged its class sizes to help increase safety.

Co-owners Izzy and Coco Tihanyi said the school created what they call “surf pods” in April.

“A surf pod is a group of no more than eight surfers with an instructor-to-student ratio of about one to four,” Izzy Tihanyi said. “It’s a static group for the whole week and some for the whole summer thus far. We keep the same instructor throughout the week as well. … We have also gotten more flexible with the age groups. It used to be that if you were 7, you would be in the 5-8 group and if your sibling was 9, they would be in the 9-11 group. Now we allow siblings to come together so it’s a more contained environment.”

She added that the school operates at a lower capacity to keep ratios and groupings small, and some typical summer programming has been cut to focus on camps and day care-type programs.

“We’re also doing a lot of one-on-one or small family group lessons,” Izzy said.

No matter the type of lesson, she added, “we check temperatures every morning on the beach, the kids and parents have to check in wearing a mask, and wear a mask for the [socially distant] land lectures. But once they are in the water, masks are not required.”

In the store, Coco Tihanyi said, “we have a greeter during all business hours, and they give hand sanitizer to anyone that wants to enter the store. We’ve put arrows on the store and restructured the layout so it flows one way in and one way out to manage social distancing. We allow eight customers at a time, so when we reach that number, the greeter asks customers to wait outside until the number decreases.”

Masks are required to enter and be inside the store. ◆