Surfing for farmers begins at Gore Bay


Farmers hit the water at Gore Bay. Photo: Sandra Taylor
Farmers hit the water at Gore Bay. Photo: Sandra Taylor
The first in a series of surfing workshops for farmers, at Gore Bay, near Cheviot, began on Wednesday last week.

The Surfing For Farmers Canterbury workshops are being organised by agricultural journalist and keen open-water swimmer Sandra Taylor.

‘‘We had 26 farmers turn up at Gore Bay on Wednesday, which was fantastic.

‘‘We have been able to do this with funding from North Canterbury Charitable Trust and FMG.’’

The programme was launched at Sumner Beach, during January and is part of a mental health initiative encouraging farmers to get off their farms and into the water.

Surfing for Farmers Canterbury is an extension of a farmer mental health and well-being initiative started by Stephen Thomson in Gisborne last year.

Stephen is a surfer, farmer and rural real estate agent at Bayleys.

He was inspired to establish Surfing for Farmers after watching the Netflix documentary Resurface.

The documentary showed how surfing helped heal American war veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

‘‘Stephen says the one line in the documentary that particularly resonated with him was when the war vet described how he used to wake up every day wanting to shoot himself,’’ Sandra said.

‘‘Now he wakes up wanting to go surfing.’’

Sandra swims in the ocean all year round and knows the feeling of well-being she gets from being in the water.

She wanted farmers to share the experience.

‘‘There are a lot of reports emerging now about the science of cold-water therapy and surfing in treating anxiety, depression and other mental health issues,’’ she said.

Sandra got funding from Rabobank and the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust to get Surfing for Farmers Canterbury up-and-running at Sumner, but it was always her intention to run the programme at Gore Bay also.

‘‘We are still running at Sumner on Tuesday nights, with farmers coming from Mid-Canterbury,’’ she said.

The Surfing For Farmers workshops are being held at Gore Bay every Thursday evening for the next five weeks and are being run by Heidi and Nukuroa Tirikatene-Nash, of Gore Bay Surf Coaching NZ.