Riding A Wave With Girls Who Surf

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - July 01, 2009
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Cherry Fu (center) with surfing instructors Yuko Kawamae and Mitso Kasuya

When Girls Who Surf’s Cherry Fu works overtime, she just may be riding a rolling wave.

“The first thing I share with my students is the standup position,” says Fu with a hearty laugh. “We get to the goal first! We know that’s what they want to accomplish. We get right to it. We give them tips and techniques, and safety situations.”

She keeps the classes small, with two to four students to one teacher. A basic lesson runs about 90 minutes. Sessions are arranged by reservation, and taught with the help of her staff of 10 surf instructors, both men and women.

“It’s a lot like lifeguarding and firefighting in that it has a huge physical component to it,” Fu says. “The staff is hardworking.”

She gets the word out about Girls Who Surf by attending professional networking events, as well as connecting with travel and tourism activity agents.

Using her past athletic coaching and academic teaching experience, the Honolulu resident pours her energy into training her staff and teaching the students.

And she is determined to make a splash.

“I want us to be one of the leading surfing operations in the world,” explains Fu, a Harvard graduate who moved to Oahu from Boston in 2002.

She started the company in 2005 because she loves surfing and wanted to have an impact on the surfing world. She acknowledges the support of her family, friends and staff.

One of the challenges of running the business, she says, are state regulations.

“They are licensing operations, so there is a mandate that we need to have instructors who are licensed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources,” she says. “However, they test once a month, and they test some people at one time and there is a waiting list. This slows our growth, and it slows our profession from advancing. When people come to Hawaii, the surf instructor is one of the people they look for. So the customers don’t have as much access as they can to instructors because of that.”

Fu admits that this is not an easy job.

“Michael Jordan makes basketball look easy. Tiger Woods makes golf looks easy. It is because they are skilled at it. Surfing is a challenging sport. If you think it’s easy, it’s not that easy.”

And that’s where Girls Who Surf comes in.

For more information, call 772-4583, or log onto girlswhosurf.com.

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