Justin Schaay considers himself very fortunate to have grown-up along the rugged coastline of South Africa. He has learned to respect and marvel at the power of the ocean and its’ natural beauty. Now living in Charleston, SC he runs a surf school and guiding outfit on Kiawah Island. Justin is passionate about teaching others and sharing his ocean experiences. Tidal Trails offers guided nature tours, team building, and surf /SUP instruction.
Ocean adventures are his personal passion. He has sailed from South Africa to the Caribbean, and kayaked around British Columbia and the Baja coastline. He has now turned his attention to SUP expeditions and adventure racing.
Justin completed the Everglades Challenge, a 300-mile unsupported adventure race, last spring along the Gulf Coast of Florida in record time [4days-20 hours-41 mins]. For him the race was a personal challenge to see if he could complete this arduous task but also to raise awareness and funds for Surfers Healing Folly Beach, his local surf break. Surfers Healing offers surfing camps for children with autism; surfing is a transformative experience for the kids and their families. For Justin watching the joy on the faces of the kids and their parents was a very humbling experience, and he was hooked from his first volunteer experience.
When he’s not out on the water, Justin can be found hanging out with his family and encouraging his two daughters to pursue their passions. If the waves permit he can be found SUP surfing which is his favored discipline.
When and where did you start SUP ?
I think it was in 2008 when Bic started making them, we were using the Bic surfbords for our surf school and this was a natural progression. I was keen to use them in the surf but at first I really did not like it and would toss the paddle on the beach and just surf them. Later that year I started to really get into it.
Which sports did you practiced before? And now?
When I lived in Cape Town I use to be a competitive windsurfer (long ago), surfer, and sailor. When I moved to Charleston I eventually started to get into kiteboarding and paddleboarding.
How have the sports you did before helped with SUP?
SUP is a relatively easy sport to learn on flat-water and having a background in watersports helped my progression into the ocean, which is more challenging.
What attracts you to SUP?
SUP is a fun sport, it’s new and there is a lot of excitement around the growth of the sport. I really enjoy the instructional aspect of the sport and I have met some really cool people through it.
SUP RACE, SUP SURF or something else?
First choice SUP Surf, second expeditions and long races.
SUP is booming, do you think this is a fad or a change in attitudes over the long term?
I think the sport of SUP is growing and is certainly opening doors to folks all over the place where there’s water. People are out there catching some of that “surf culture stoke”. Regarding long term, I think time will tell but it is very important to get the younger generation involved. I also think it’s important for the equipment to not get too pricey and Bic does a great job of providing quality boards at a good price.
Do you participate in competitions?
Yes I do surf SUP contests locally and race; I particularly enjoy long distance races.