‘If You Fall It’s Just Water’: Endless Sun Surf School Owner on Conquering Waves

Personal empowerment, a deep connection forged with the ocean, a calming sense of freedom in wave-churned chaos … If you’ve ever surfed, you know it’s so much more than balancing on a board.

Of course, the fundamentals are important, too, and they’re what Amy and Tim Reda, the husband-and-wife owners of Endless Sun Surf School, teach every day of the year. Endless Sun Surf School is only one of three legally licensed and permitted surf schools in Newport Beach. A team of CPR-certified professionals guide adults and kids of all ages on how to best ride the waves at Newport Pier.

Instruction includes everything from personalized, private lessons to group and “dawn patrol” classes. Endless Sun Surf School also partners with Newport Mesa Unified School District for large after- and before-school surf and yoga programs, and will start its popular summer camps soon. (For all the info on classes, click here.)

So, as summer in Newport Beach approaches like a sweet set at sunrise, who better to chat with than Amy Reda on all things surf?

WEST OCEANFRONT: Endless Sun Surf School began in 1963 … Do you have any sense about what the Newport Beach surf scene was like back then?

AMY REDA: My husband and I were born in the eighties but our partner and original surf school owner, Scott Morlan, was part of the Newport Beach surf scene back then. It was obviously very different. The surf scene has even changed a ton since I was a kid! For one, there were barely any girls who surfed in Newport Beach. Hopefully, we’re changing that a bit. There are also a ton of people who are skipping getting a fundamental/proper surf lesson and hopping right onto a huge heavy Longboard these days. In other words, there are a ton of novice surfers out there who failed to learn about safety, etiquette and basic surfing techniques.

You’re a born and bred Newport Beach resident and former professional surfer. If you’re willing, can you share with us a few highlights from your pro career?

I didn’t make a career out of competitive surfing. However, I was really competitive throughout my youth and I eventually competed in some ASP Longboard events. It’s pretty fun to receive a big check at a surf contest and be supported by sponsors. That part felt awesome. I’ve also met so many great people through surf contests—so, so many friends—and my husband! Surf contests were a really healthy outlet for my competitiveness, emotions and insecurities. I competed off and on in contests for 20 years. I still do some contests. (usually I pick out my favorites) however, over the past several years, I don’t feel a need to compete. Perhaps I released a lot of my competitiveness.

You and your husband, Tim, both share a love of surfing. Can you tell us the story of how you two met? And was he a former pro surfer, too?

My husband and I met at Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz. We were both getting ready for the Log Jam surf contest. I was already on a team but Tim tried to get me to come on his team (Santa Cruz Longboard Union) … or maybe that was his pick-up line. Later on, we did the ASP Longboard Tour together, which was really fun. Tim qualified for the World Championships and got to go to China, while I stayed back to manage our surf school … he owes me for that one!

The surf scene has even changed a ton since I was a kid! For one, there were barely any girls who surfed in Newport Beach. Hopefully, we’re changing that a bit.

How specifically did your surf school get started?

Scott Morlan was the first person to start teaching surf lessons in the City of Newport Beach. He received a permit from the city and started a small surf school in 1963. I learned how to surf at his surf camp! I would walk or skate there from my house, and since no one in my family surfed, it was such an important, life-changing thing for me.

Scott was later my high school surf team coach and eventually my boss for many years. My husband and I partnered up with him to grow and revolutionize the surf school. Since then, we’ve created a huge after-school surf program, a women’s surf program, lessons for kids with special needs, and lessons for people of all ages and abilities.

So let’s say I’m just starting out surfing and a little nervous to get on a wave. What’s the best piece of advice you can share to overcome fear of the ocean?

You definitely want to respect the ocean and have complete awareness of your surroundings at all times. However, you should also ask yourself what you’re truly afraid of; usually people can peel back the layers of their fears and realize that they are very capable of going out there—with a qualified teacher—and enjoying the waves. If you fall, it’s just water. Where we teach, the waves are gentle and you can typically touch the bottom. Once people conquer their fears of surfing and actually take a good surf lesson, at a safe location, they usually question why they had waited so long in the first place.

What’s the most gratifying thing about teaching locals and visitors how to surf?

I love helping people conquer their fears. I love watching people get so much joy out of the simple act of riding a wave!

What’s your favorite aspect of surfing?

Feeling a wave. A wave is so crazy if you sit down and really think about it … and the fact that we have the ability to ride them is kind of nuts!

Fill in the blank: The best kind of surfers are the ones who really understand ______ …

The sea.

Agree or disagree: Surfing is more than a sport. It’s a way of life.

Oh yes, agreed.