Mary Osborne is an icon in the international surf industry. At her young age, she can already look back on a 10-year career as a competitive surfer, fashion model, writer, and environmental advocate. Traveling to remote places many of us only dream of, she has become an ambassador for environmental causes as well as female empowerment.
Learning to Surf With Pro-Longboarder Mary Osborne
Conde Nast Traveler
By Edmund Vallance
In the 1991 surf-heist movie Point Break, Keanu Reeves learns how to ride waves in a day. My own experience is a little different. On my first attempt, I banana-skid backwards off my board, catapult into the foam, and swallow about a pint of brine. Next, I dive face-first into the waves; a process known as “pearling.” The phrase sounds almost glamorous when my teacher, Mary Osborne, says it. But I can assure you it is not.
A professional long-boarder for over twenty years, Osborne lives for adventure. She’s surfed the Silver Dragon tidal bore in China; led humanitarian missions to El Salvador; and joined environmental scientists on a 15,000-mile research cruise from Brazil to South Africa. She also happens to be married to Mel Gibson’s stunt double, Lance Gilbert. (“He proposed to me in a helicopter. He was down on one knee, suspended on a rope, hanging a hundred meters above the ocean.”)
Best Destinations for Travel with Professional Surfer Mary Osborne
Adventure IO guide Mary Osborne has traveled the world as a surfing competitor and ambassador for more than 20 years. She’s also a dedicated environmentalist, philanthropist and entrepreneur that has started multiple businesses and a non-profit organization, and volunteered her time around the globe for causes she is passionate about. But if you wanna’ talk surf travel, Mary has logged some miles. In fact, she was the first woman in history to be invited to surf the “Silver Dragon” tidal bore in Hangzhou, China. Motherhood has her staying a little closer to her California home these days, but she’s still no stranger to following the swells online, packing a quick bag and hopping on a plane at the last minute to catch a couple days surfing in an exotic destination. Check out some of her favorites below.
MO: I’d say one of my all time favorite places is El Salvador. It’s all right hand point breaks … the land of right hand point breaks everywhere. I like to stay in the Sunzal area, in that zone where Punta Roca is, which is kind of a world-class wave. That’s on the Pacific side, and really likes the southern swells. There’s swell all year round so there’s always something to ride, but when it’s south it picks up and gets really big. The wave I like to ride is called Las Flores, which is about a three-hour drive from the airport (in San Salvador) that’s a super killer right hand point break, too. I end up longboarding a lot down there because the currents can get a little challenging, but even like a fun shape board for me tends to be really good. But the other side of it is that some of the points are super fast, so if you bring a short board or a fish you can get pretty much get away with surfing anything down there. Also, the cool thing about that area is there’s a beach town called Playa El Tunco, which is a little hot spot now. There’s a ton of little wine bars and boutique hotels and it’s really become a surf destination. And if you’re on the West Coast, you can do a quick trip down there, take a red eye and be surfing by the early morning. It’s a good “strike mission”, but you can also spend a week down there and it’s great.
Insider’s Guide: Ventura, CA with Professional Surfer Mary Osborne
Surfer, writer, fashion model, environmental advocate – AIO guide Mary Osborne has had many titles. But perhaps none define her more than “Ventura, California native”. Mary grew up playing in the waters off nearby Solimar Beach, and after a long career traveling the globe as a competitive longboarder, she returned home to raise her family and start a business. There are few that know the area better, so we asked Mary for her insider’s view of the famous California beach town.
Time of Year
MO: I love Ventura in the fall, especially for surfing. The kids go back to school, we get the northwest swells that come down and that’s when the points really start to turn on: Rincon, C Street, everything gets really good. In the fall we get like “late Indian Summers” up here. We get a ton of fog in the summer and I hated the fog growing up on the beach, it was foggy constantly. So I feel like the minute the kids go back to school, it turns to like 100 degrees on the beach and the waves are always good. So I think fall and winters are our time around here. Whereas if you come to, say, Malibu, it’s definitely summer with the south swells, we get more of the northwest swells.
Hang Ten: Learn to Surf (at Last) at 5 California Surfing Schools
By: Clara Hogan
Surfing is about as Californian as you can get. For most beachgoers, watching the pros catch waves is a favorite pastime—they make it look so effortlessly fun, who could resist wanting to join in? But when it comes to actually getting on a board yourself, it can be intimidating.
But really all a barney (that’s lingo for new surfer) needs to get up and running is a lesson or two to understand the basics—how to paddle, how to pop up on the board, and how to lean into the ride.
Luckily, there are plenty of surf schools to help. This summer, if you want to finally check surfing off your bucket list, sign up for a class at one of these five spots down the coast. You’ll be hanging ten in no time.
Mary Osborne Surf, Ventura
For a chance to learn from a famous pro, head to Ventura—located on the coast just northwest of Los Angeles—to take a lesson with Mary Osborne, an icon in the surf industry who spent 10 years in competition. In addition to the sport, she’s become an ambassador for both environmental causes and female empowerment, traveling to remote places around the world. You can choose to take a 90-minute one-on-one lesson, a 90-minute group class (resuming in April 2022 on Saturday mornings) or an overnight surf getaway at the beachfront Crowne Plaza, inland at Ojai Valley Inn, or at a rented beautiful private home.
Mary Osborne: The Most Common Mistakes Beginner Surfers Make
Expert instructors on what to expect when you’re learning to surf
By: Dashel Pierson
Alexander Fleming was eager to go on vacation. So antsy, in fact, that he didn’t clean his workspace – a pile of dirty petri dishes, festering. And when he returned, he found a curious mold, which staved off the growing bacteria. Thus, penicillin was discovered in 1928.
While Fleming’s blunder of not cleaning up before leaving town resulted in one of the greatest discoveries in modern medicine, the lesson rings true for us common folk: mistakes aren’t always a bad thing. Actually, without mistakes we’d never really progress, never learn what to do right from what we’ve done wrong. Enter the plight of the beginner surfer.
If you never nosedived on takeoff, then you’d never know to lean back and account for the slope of the wave; if you never got pitched by a sneaker set while waving to your friends on the beach, then you’d never know to always keep your eyes on the horizon; etcetera, etcetera.
(Mary Osborne Surf)
“I think the number one thing is picking a credible instructor. I see a lot of inexperienced instructors teaching people that probably shouldn’t be teaching. I get so frustrated when I see people learning on the wrong size equipment or at the most challenging surf break. I feel it stems from the instructor and they should be the most knowledgeable person guiding the surfer to ensure they have the best time ever. Not take their money and not care.”
Mary Osborne Surf: 10 Best Surf Camps in the West
Rated one of the top 10 surf camps in the west….professional surfer Mary Osborne combines her love of the sea with her adventurous spirit through a year-round series of surf camps, both in her home base of Ventura, CA, and far beyond.
Read more: Sunset Magazine
Mary Osborne Teen Surfari
Check out what a Surfari is about! Our ladies are given the freedom and support to reach for the stars, take a deep breath and laugh hard! We encourage the ultimate level of being yourself and enjoying the water at the same time. Whether your daughter is new to the surf culture or she wants to take her surf skill and knowledge base to the next level….we have the means to accommodate all!
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