At LeaderSurf our entire staff is focused on enhancing the leadership capabilities of our participants. Our surf instructors serve as amazing role models. Manuel "Rayito" Garcia, our lead surf instructor looks like he belongs in a Hollywood film. His charm and charisma are contagious and immediately set our participants at ease. Rayito has a love for the ocean that was developed as a small boy in Spain. After spending time as a professional surfer, Rayito chose to make Playa Santana, Nicaragua his permanent home. He is building a home and leveraging his surfing skills to teach others the sport which he is so passionate about.
We sat down with Rayito to interview him about surfing, life and leadership.
LeaderSurf: Who are you, where are you from and how did you choose to live in Nicaragua?
Rayito: I am Manuel Garcia, but everyone calls me Rayito. I am a surfer from a little fishing village in Galicia, Spain called Santa Cruz. I studied commercial driving in school and spend 11 years as a driver. However, I always had a desire to live in the tropics and to make surfing my job. After spending time as a sponsored professional surfer, I chose Nicaragua as the perfect place to call home.
LeaderSurf: How did you become a surf instructor?
Rayito: I became a surf instructor in my home town at the age of 15. My friend was a physical education teacher and started to train surf instructors under a local program. That program became a legal requirement a few years later when the first surf schools started to rise in Northern Spain. After that I kept learning from experience and updating my knowledge with additional programs such as the ISA (International Surf Association).
LeaderSurf: What do you see as the most important life lessons that one can learn through surfing?
Rayito: Like life itself, there is always a reward for hard work and understanding. Surfing is much the same. It requires a lot of hard work and understanding. Patience is a key to surfing. One must be patient with oneself and patient with the waves and conditions. All of this develops into little ascending steps that make you keep improving and reaching goals. Surfing keeps your mind, soul and body healthy. You learn from your errors and make adjustments.
LeaderSurf: What is the biggest challenge most people have when learning to surf?
Rayito: The biggest challenge is to get the first wave. To do this involves first learning to read and understand the ocean, the break, the mechanics of the wave and the different areas on the playing field. Unlike a futbol (Soccer) field, the ocean playing field is constantly changing.
LeaderSurf: How does that challenge relate to similar challenges in life?
Rayito: Well, life is all about superation (overcoming challenges) and problem solving. Surfing is a constantly evolving challenge that requires determination, resilience and perseverance for the surfer to achieve what they want. That is very similar to any goals in life.
LeaderSurf: Why is teaching successful people how to surf more difficult than teaching kids?
Rayito: Kids have no fear, they have opened minds and they don’t care about what others think, they want to have fun, they have more elasticity and a lower center of gravity, that’s why the learn faster. Adults are afraid of failure and being judged for performing poorly. Their past experiences get in the way of learning something new like surfing.
LeaderSurf: If you weren’t teaching surfing what do you think you would be doing?
Rayito: I would be traveling, surfing, and spending time with the people that motivate me. I also enjoy a lot training and spending some time in the gym with good music.
LeaderSurf: What is your Groove? Something you do better, special or different?
Rayito: I’m a gap in between people, I'm a people’s person who loves connecting with people and building relationships.