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Cornwall LivingIssue #122

Out for adventure

Stepping into a world of endless possibility as we meet our limits with open arms and push the boundaries of our capabilities in the outdoor playground that is the Cornish coast.

To step outside our front door and feel the warm promise of spring on our skin as the days grow lighter and the sun more familiar is to remember the joy of living in the paradise that many of us are lucky enough to call home. Painted in greens, blues and sandy golds, and edged with cliffs embellished with heath and thrift overlooking the Atlantic ocean, Cornwall not only makes for a wonderfully inspiring place to be, but holds the key to real adventure in what we consider to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

In the spirit of immersing ourselves in the watery wilds of Cornwall this spring and summer, we thought it best to get an insight from someone who not only harbours a passion for the thrill of the Cornish coast, but has made a career of 17 years from it. From nurturing surf newbies on their first waves at Praa Sands and Gwithian Towans and coaching advanced salt-water thrill seekers, to exploring the coastline on a coasteering exploration around Mousehole, Chris Brown is a man at the very heart of outdoor adventure. Leading a team of over 12 surf and coasteering coaches, Chris is at the centre of a company that invites all to seek their very own outdoor adventure; Global Boarders.    

“My first memories of the outdoors were spent on the crowded beaches of Southend-on-Sea,” reminisces Chris. “Like many families from the southeast, Cornwall was a yearly family holiday destination and I recall catching my first waves at Gwithian on a partially snapped polystyrene bodyboard in the mid 90s. My parents made the brave move to leave Essex and relocate to Cornwall. Ever since then I’ve been drawn to the energy and natural beauty that can only be experienced in the great outdoors. As a first-generation surfer in my family, it took until the age of 16 before I learnt how to surf and two years later, whilst balancing education, I qualified as a lifeguard and surf coach and never looked back. In 2005 Global Boarders was formed and 17 years later my passion to coach surfing has never been stronger.”

Originally a mobile surf school run by Chris and his best friend Steve, Global Boarders’ original ethos was to travel Cornwall’s coastline in the search of the best waves for their clients to surf, operating out of a van with surfboards strapped to the roof. “We did this all year round and it was a common site to see us in the winter months battling the Cornish weather whilst wrestling the surfboards on and off the roof,” explains Chris. “We realised this was where our passion lay, and 17 years later best friends became business partners and we’ve grown the business to proudly have beach front bases at two of Cornwall’s best surfing beaches; Gwithian and Praa Sands.”
Open year round, Chris and Steve’s early roots are still embraced, and Global Boarders remains one of the only surf schools in Cornwall who proudly stay open all through the winter to embrace the elements with their brave customers. 

Having managed and coached the GB National Surf Team from 2015 to 2019, Chris found himself in the driving seat of some incredible opportunities that would lead him around the world to the shores of California, The Azores and Japan. On his return, Chris’ newfound skills and experience found their place within the Global Boarders team at the head of an incredible group of hand-picked instructors and guides, each chosen for their individual skills and experiences:
“My role as head coach allows me to proudly lead a team of wonderful coaches and great friends in delivering two amazing activities in surfing and coasteering across some of the most spectacular locations in Cornwall. We believe that we have the best team of instructors and guides possible, and to provide an unrivalled customer service we have hand-picked each individual to fit a certain roll within our coaching team. Ultimately, whether you’re local or just paying a visit, our aim is to leave you with a lasting memory of our special county and ensure it’s one of the highlights of your holiday.” 

From primary school teachers who work with the kid’s groups during the school holidays, to more senior coaches who support some of Global Boarders older customers, many of the team have been around for ten or more seasons, so they really know what they’re doing! What’s more, Chris and his team see many budding adventure seekers return to them year after year with the knowledge that the coach they’ve had previously is more than likely there to coach them again: “We find that most return customers when booking their session will ask whether they can be taught by the coach or guide they had during their previous session. As a company, we put great emphasis on retaining our staff, with many being with us for at least five years, so the customer and coach relationships can progress with many students working with the same coach for years. We also renew our equipment every two years, which means our customers always enjoy warm wetsuits and a great selection of beginner and advanced surfboards.”

Striving to be a fully inclusive operator for outdoor activities, and with a desire to promote the endless health and wellbeing benefits of being in the Cornish sea,
Global Boarders are the lead surf school provider in Cornwall for working with local schools, encouraging local children to access the incredible outdoor environment that awaits them whilst promoting ocean safety and awareness. Not only this, the team are also proud to run a not-for-profit surf club for local children from beginner to elite level, many of which have gone on to represent England at international events. Their work with the military charity Surf Action and the Wahine Project UK (a year-round initiative for young girls to learn how to surf, look after the ocean, each other and themselves) only goes to show how dedicated Chris and the team are to the local community and the art of outdoor adventure. 

With an offering of beginner, improver, advanced and private surf lessons from Gwithian and Praa Sands for all ages, and group and private beginner and advanced coasteering adventures from Mousehole and Praa Sands, Global Boarders take a hands-on approach when it comes to experiencing Cornwall’s coastal playground. 

“Cornwall is the furthest southerly county in the UK and benefits from especially mild winters and long warm summers,” Chris muses. “Whether your passion is for land or water sports, Cornwall is a year-round destination for outdoor adventure and not just a summertime holiday location. Cornwall’s core lies with its infinity with water sports, and with a coastline that stretches for over 250 miles and with over 300 beaches the options for adventure are truly endless. Cornwall’s highlight adventure activities include surfing, coasteering, kayak and SUP tours and rock climbing, and as the first point of land from North America Cornwall’s stretch of Atlantic ocean is famous for being crystal clear, attracting more marine life than any other part of the UK. It’s not unusual to see whales, dolphins, seals, basking sharks and bluefin tuna. There truly isn’t anywhere better in the UK to experience the breath-taking thrill that comes with immersing yourself in an outdoor adventure. There’s nothing like it.” 

Whether it’s discovering the rush of catching your very first wave where ocean meets shore, or finding out just what it feels like to throw yourself from the rocky cliffs that border the land into the briny sea under the watchful guidance of a qualified thrill seeker, the possibilities afforded by Chris and his team at Global Boarders are entirely endless, and I believe that Henry David Thoreau couldn’t have put it any better: ‘You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.’