The Science of Surfing: Dom Moore’s Ocean Confidence Framework

At adventuro, we’re proud to feature trailblazers like Dom who share our passion for adventure and empower others to explore the world with confidence. If you’re ready to take your ocean experience to the next level, Surf Sanctuary is the place to start. You can book your Ocean Confidence Course with Dom, along with surf lessons and more on adventuro.

I’ve always been fascinated by people who push the limits and aren’t afraid to try different things. It could be music, sport, or adventure. Renegades that take risks, even if they come up short and don’t get the fame or recognition of more conventional ‘sure bets’, are the real heroes. During my lifelong connection with surfing and its offshoots (SUP, kitesurfing, foiling), I try to do things that not everyone else is doing. This includes how I approach these sports and how I run my surf school, Surf Sanctuary.

Along the way, I’ve learned a lot from mentors, peers, all-time greats, personal experiences and even a degree in natural science that I started a few years back. What I’ve learned doesn’t exist in one place; I’ve had to integrate it over the years and take great care to remember it. This means writing articles, drawing systems diagrams, and designing clinics even if no one else will ever see them. It is so I can remember it. If my favourite thing is seeking out new experiences in the ocean, a very close second is passing on the information that I’ve learned to others. The Ocean Confidence Course is a concentration of this information.

Dom Moore riding the waves on Fistral Beach in Newquay, Cornwall.

Creating the Ocean Confidence Course

Some years ago, I was deeply involved in the evolution of kitesurfing. I was a sponsored rider and magazine editor and close to the heart of the sport. I’d just spent the winter in Hawaii in world-class waves and training with some true pioneers of surfing. On return to the UK, I saw that there was a knowledge gap for kitesurfers who didn’t come from a surfing background, but wanted to kite in waves. I set up the Ocean Confidence Course as a way for these people to become their own risk-technicians and keep themselves safe.

The Knowledge-Technique-Fitness Framework

This framework gives you a way to audit your own abilities and to assess the demands of the situation you would like to work towards, such as riding in bigger surf, paddleboarding in the open ocean, or overcoming general anxieties around the sea. Any single factor that you can develop personally will fall into the category of either knowledge, fitness, or technique. As one factor develops, it can increase your ability to develop other factors.

For example, if we develop a person’s cardiovascular capacity, we have made a fitness gain. This fitness gain enables them to perform repeated efforts which develops technique, or have longer practice sessions which develops knowledge. The framework is easy to apply to assess the demands of a future challenge so that we can effectively train for it.

Dom Moore riding the waves at Porthleven - kitesufing.

Tailoring Sessions to Individuals

First of all, you need to find out what the individual wants to learn. It’s very important to let them speak and not try to steer them at this stage. You could have two identical twins surfing the same spot at the same time for a year and they will have very divergent experiences by the end of it. No two people have the same relationship or experiences in the sea.

Some people will have had a bad experience that is now holding them back, some are new to the sea and just want to enjoy it safely, and others will have a specific goal. My job is to listen closely to what they are, and sometimes aren’t, saying and then create a session that is tuned to them.

Addressing Ocean Conditions

I use a quintessential (or five elements) model for addressing the conditions which will impact a session. These are: wind, swell, tides, crowds, and sea-floor. On a large scale, the wind and swell decide where you will surf. Once you are at that beach, the sea-floor (i.e. sandbars or reef) will dictate where you surf on a smaller scale. The tides are in charge of when you surf. The crowd factor impacts on your behaviour in the water, such as what route you take paddling out, and your wave count.

Rip currents are the leading cause of fatalities in the surf zone but are themselves a secondary factor of swell properties and the sea floor. These two factors need to be understood before developing a working knowledge of rip currents. We can predict the tides very accurately years in advance. The winds and swells are forecasted quite well a few days in advance. But forecasts are models, and as any scientist will tell you, all models are wrong, although some are useful. So we use forecasts as a guide, and what we see in front of us is the absolute truth.

Why Take an Ocean Confidence Course?

Building confidence in the ocean is a journey that combines knowledge, technique, and fitness. Through the Ocean Confidence Course, I aim to empower individuals to understand and embrace the ocean’s challenges. By tailoring sessions to each person’s unique needs and addressing the crucial elements that impact their experiences, we can turn anxiety into enjoyment and fear into freedom.

Whether you’re looking to surf bigger waves, paddleboard in the open ocean, or simply feel more at ease in the sea, the journey begins with understanding and preparation. At Surf Sanctuary, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

If you’d like to book your Ocean Confidence Course with Dom, click here. Dom also offers bespoke surf lessons, specialist surf lessons, spearfishing, and more!

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Dom Moore - Owner of Surf Sanctuary

As well as coaching surf, sup, coasteer, snorkel and ocean confidence at Surf Sanctuary, Dom is a BSUPA National Trainer, editor at SUP International Magazine and commercially qualified skipper.

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