/ / / / /

The Moneyball of Surfing is in Costa Rica, at Surf Simply

February 29, 2012 at 11:17 AM | by | ()

Moneyball may have gone home empty handed at the 2012 Oscars, but sabermetrics are alive and well and not just on the baseball field.

Ru Hill is the owner/operator of Surf Simply, a boutique surf coaching resort near Nosara, Costa Rica, and he has been collecting surf data for more than ten years, all the while instructing thousands of surfers in England, France and Indonesia. Since 2007, however, his home base has been just up the dirt road from Playa Guiones in CR.

Every Saturday Ru and his team of ISA-trained surf instructors, chefs, yoga instructors and masseurs welcome a new group of travelers who, while varied in surfing ability from none to plenty, all have a common goal—to become immersed in surf while on vacation. While there are plenty of surf camps, surf instructors, and surf boards in Costa Rica, you would be hard pressed to find one as detailed and systematic as Surf Simply.

While Saturday night starts with a low-key dinner at the basic yet boutique 14-guest surf resort, by Sunday morning 8am, the travelers are ready to get in the water.

If you're a newbie, you first start in the whitewater on your belly (getting a feel for the weight shifting movements needed to trim and carve), while if you're level two or above, you might find yourself going "out the back" and tackling unbroken waves straight away.

The Surf Simply crew has developed a rather impressive "Tree of Surf Knowledge" infographic to quickly help you assess where you're at with your surfing, plus what skills you'll need to master to reach the next level. A 12-foot version of this infographic prominently hangs in the surf theory room at the resort. This "surf theory room" also sports a flat screen television to analyze your surfing (usually filmed by the coaches during your sessions) and compare your "functional stance" to Kelly Slater's (hey we can all dream, right?).

Despite the rigorous surf schedule, don't think of Surf Simply as a boot camp. The atmosphere is chill, and Ru takes his guests out to the local restaurants for dinner almost every night. Furthermore, between sessions you can relax at the resort's plunge pool, get a massage, or take a nap. Furthermore, Wednesday is a complete off day when you are free to go on a canopy tour, go SUP'ing, or just relax in your casita.

Ok, now you know that Ru and his surf sidekicks have a unique, detailed methodology to help you progress through four levels of surfing, but come on, is it really worth the $2500-$4000 for the week? (Airport transfers are included in the price but flights to Costa Rica are not). Well, let's go to the data shall we? First off, go ahead and try to find a bad review over on TripAdvisor. Second, and this was unbelievable to us, was that 2 of the 12 guests there during our stay were on their second "tour of duty" at Surf Simply. Amazing. Over 16% of the guests were repeat visitors on just this trip! We asked the Billy Beane of surfing to elaborate on this, and he did by showing us the numbers, of course:

Funny that you mention the repeat guests thing. We do get a lot but I didn't know the numbers and your message prompted me to work it out....

So of the [redacted] guests who have come to stay since Nov 3rd (including next week, Feb 25 - Mar 3), [redacted] of them are returning clients. So we have averaged [redacted] guests per week, of which [redacted] are returning for a second or third time, which is 27.39%.

That amazing repeat guest stat strikes us as the OBP of surfermetrics. After all, to benefit from all this data and analysis you have to get yourself in the water, and it seems Surf Simply does the job of repeatedly getting folks in the water, helping guests improve their surf skills, and sending them back home craving more.

Surf Simply coaching courses run from Saturday to Saturday for 9 months of the year. In 2012, they'll be closed from May 5th until June 2nd and from August 25th until November 17th as these are the rainy months in Costa Rica.

[Photo: Mark J for Jaunted & Surf Simply]

Archived Comments: