Our week with Dale in Costa Rica was just what we needed to get useful feedback on our strengths and weaknesses as surfski paddlers. Lots of people can give good, general advice, but Dale really takes the time and has the experience to see what each individual paddler needs to do to improve. Through on-the-water and video-analysis coaching, Dale spotted specific areas for us to work on, and work we did! The five days of paddling (with one rest day in the middle—a perfect spot for a massage!) gave us lots of time to build better technique, increase our stamina, learn to read the water better, and, when conditions were right, practice downwinding. Dale was a good mix of easy going, straight forward, encouraging, and repetitive. He warned us that we might hear his voice in our heads when we got home, repeating those key instructions that we need to ingrain into our muscle memory. In fact, it’s kind of amazing that Dale can be so upbeat in his repetition. He never got frustrated or exasperated, and he encouraged us to relax and take it easy if he thought we were getting frustrated with ourselves.
We finished our daily paddling outings with a late lunch and/or a drink while we discussed all things related to paddling and reviewed the footage Dale took of us. The locations for our paddles were beautiful; Santa Teresa is incredibly laid back and has excellent restaurants; and the hotel we stayed at was very comfortable and spacious. Also, Melissa was always available to answer any questions that came up and arrange things as we needed them. All together it was a wonderful week. We came home with good skill-building drills to practice and a real eagerness to keep improving. If only we could have brought the warm air and water home, too.
Paul and Denise, February 2019
I recently had the pleasure of doing business with Dale Ponsford in Maui, and wish to express admiration for his professionalism as a surfski coach on and off the water. While on vacation in Hawaii with my family, I was wearing an Epic hat as the regional sales manager for Epic Kayaks. Dale and his wife Melissa saw to it that I was able to participate in a couple of downwind sessions on the Maliko run, on the north shore of Maui. Dale was busy coaching and mentoring others during this time, but they still facilitated logistics for the sessions I wanted to join, and I observed Dale in action as he managed our group with ease on the water in a dynamic, challenging downwinder. On the water, Dale demonstrates his skill and comfort in big downwind conditions by maneuvering around the group, and providing necessary directions to keep everyone focused, and together. I paddled in a double surfski with 2 different partners on 2 runs, and both times Dale stayed close to us for the entire 10 mile paddle. As a sufski instructor, I know this is not easy work, but Dale makes it look easy, and i had 100% confidence in his abilities. I heard glowing testimonials from other, experiences surfski paddlers in Maui that they were delighted with Dale’s coaching and leadership. One client had been working with Dale in private technique sessions to improve his speed; he was thrilled with the results, and was planning to put it to use by passing all his paddle partners on the net downwinder! The owner of Surfski Maui, the Epic dealer on the island and a very experienced downwind paddler, also received some technique coaching from dale; in a video analysis of stroke mechanics, Dale pointed out a hitch in the paddler’s stroke. It had been explained on the water, but the paddler didn’t believe it until he saw the video! So Dale’s coaching skills are well received by paddlers of all abilities. With Dale and Melissa’s strong background in vacation planning in Costa Rica, Hawaii, and other exotic locales, they know ow to provide a custom, fully-catered get away trip for surfski paddling, and other adventurous activities. I would recommend their services to anyone wishing to experience the excitement of surfski in Hawaii, and Costa Rica. I can’t wait to get back on the water with Dale myself!
Regional Markeing Representative
I just got back from a 12 day trip to Maui. During that time, I met with Dale 7 times for lessons on surfski technique. It was awesome. I would never have changed my paddle stroke on my own no matter how many videos I watched. Dale’s a very patient guy and a lot of fun to spend time with. We focused almost totally on technique for this trip and in the future, I may return to concentrate on downwinding. His knowledge is amazing. All in all, it was a great trip. Maui is a beautiful environment to learn this skill.
David Clubine, October 2018
My husband and I went to Costa Rica for Dale’s 5 day surfski retreat and planned on staying a week, but we ended up adding another week to our vacation. That’s how good it was! Dale is a very attentive, patient and personalized instructor who uses various teaching methods to help us learn and practice paddling techniques We were also educated about how to read the waves and wind, and how to adjust, haul and care for our surfskis. Dale’s wife Melissa, was always very mindful with the details of our trip and set us up with massages, restaurant and accommodation recommendations, as well as anything else we needed. Any questions we had were promptly answered. It was physically exhausting trip, but Santa Teresa is also extremely relaxing. The location is outstanding and so is the food, as we were taken to various local favorites. Now all we have to do is practice, practice, practice, so we can come back for another retreat.
A week with Dale is a life changing experience for a paddler. I was definitely not his usual student and really came to Dale with no Surfski experience at all, and a lot of bad habits I had developed in my Sea Kayak. It was a good test of his coaching. Dale is not just a great Surf ski coach he is a good life coach because for me improving my paddling meant improving a lot of other things in my life. He was extremely patient and rather than push me to do things I couldn’t yet; he put me in environments where I was comfortable and could absorb the lessons my muscles needed to process to transition to a different kind of paddling. No matter where you meet him for Coaching he will take you where you are and build a better paddler. Never in a million years would I have just hopped in a surfski and figured out the things he taught me. In addition to all that he and his wife Melissa helped smooth the way so I had an amazing time in Costa Rica and never had a worry about the logistics of getting to a remote place in a foreign country. It was an experience of a lifetime; you should definitely schedule one too.
Tami Rose, February 2018
Jim and I had a fantastic time in Maui with Dale and Melissa. Paddling the Maliko Bay Run was an amazing experience for both of us. We both learned so much from Dale about wave catching, reading the ocean and enjoying the experience. For someone like me who tends to be pretty tentative out there in rough conditions, I was amazed at how comfortable I was in the back of the double with Dale. It was really fun and we both were able to practice what Dale had taught us when we got home. Aside from paddling though, we got to see so much of Maui thanks to Dale and Melissa showing us all their favorite spots. Thanks guys. Awesome!
Michele Parker, February 2018