One of the newest Urban Beach brand ambassadors, South African born surfer, fitness instructor and model, Tehillah ‘Tee’ McGuinness recently paid us a visit our Devon HQ.
An entrepreneurial spirit with her own business Ohana, based out in Fuerteventura, Tee is also busy promoting her Girls Surfing Fitness Weekends which will hit UK shores in 2014! With all this going on she still managed to pop in for a chat to discuss her plans for the coming year, plus her love of everything surf, fitness and wellbeing.
UB: Having grown up in SA, where were your favourite places to surf?
TM: As I was lucky enough to live right on Supers in Jeffreys Bay I would say that is my most memorable, favourite place. We moved around a lot before settling in Jbay and we lived in a small town called Port Alfred, on the East Coast not far from Jbay. The set up was a long right hander breaking off the East Pier and hollow left on the West pier, breaking off a river mouth. That is where I started surfing and I will always remember the long summer days with friends and family, surfing all day!
UB: On Moving to the UK did you find British attitude to surfing distinctly different from SA or is it the same universally?
TM: I find the British attitude to be really friendly and laid back, but saying that I have never surfed very crowded spots on days when the waves have been pumping and everyone is on a mission. From what I remember in Jbay it was also pretty mellow, besides the groms who used to snake everyone and a few tourists who would paddle out looking for trouble but they were quickly shown the way to paddle back in. I am not sure how things have changed now but again it’s all down to how you behave in the water, whether it is your local spot or not.
UB: Any favourite breaks in the UK? Any secret spots you don’t mind sharing?
TM: I promised I wouldn’t tell...haha! No secret spots yet, I am still working my way in with the locals. I remember doing a trip down to Devon and Cornwall for about two weeks, just after relocating to the UK and surfing so many spots, that I can’t even remember them all. I do remember some great sessions at Croyde, Constantine Bay and Perranporth.
One of the things I really loved, which is different to growing up and surfing Jbay every day is being able to drive to so many different little sheltered coves, one after the other and surfing fun waves with not many people out. I prefer to surf spots 'off the beaten track', than trying to fight for waves. I had a few good sessions down near Bournemouth and just outside at Kimmeridge, but it’s not nearly as consistent as the West Coast.
UB: You’re now based in Fuerteventura, what was it about the Island that captivated you the most?
TM: I felt a similar sense of freedom to how I used to live in South Africa but with a bit of extra security which is difficult to understand unless you have lived in a country where you’re constantly looking over your shoulder. There are so many amazing things about the UK and I feel so lucky to have been able to relocate to a safer country with my family. However coming from a lifestyle which consists of being outdoors, in the sun and pretty much running around barefoot it was a massive shock to try and adapt to this new lifestyle. I have tried as much as possible but my heart longed for the ocean, surfing, warmth and all the positive aspects that go along with that lifestyle.
Although Fuerteventura is not your typical tropical paradise there is something about the volcanic rock, white sandy beaches and beautiful surf spots that completely captivated me. When I arrived I felt like 'me' again... completely free! It is also a short plane ride across to UK, which makes life very easy!
UB: Best break you’ve surfed internationally?
TM: I have got some great destinations on my 2014 travel list but so far I would say France (some secret and not so secret places)
UB: Sketchiest wipe out you’ve ever experienced?
TM: Definitely on the North Shore of Fuerteventura at a spot called la Concava. It was a big day and the not the best swell direction or conditions for this spot as it is a super shallow, short ride with a quick take off, barrel and then kicking out before the rocks. It’s famous for broken ankles, head injuries etc. (all of which I never knew)
I paddled for a wave but just before taking off I realised it was a bad choice and tried to pull back. I went over the falls, stood up in knee high water and noticed my hand was a bit swollen...after some tears and a trip to the hospital I ended up in a cast for 3 months with a broken metacarpal.
UB: Who in the surfing world inspires you the most?
TM: It’s always inspiring to see what the guys and girls on tour are doing but honestly it is also people with positive attitudes, who just love surfing and hearing stories of the changes and decisions they have made in their lives just to be able to surf, whether it be competitively or just for their own pleasure.
UB: Favourite board ever ridden, long or short?
TM: Hmmm, tough one. I have surfed so many boards that it is really difficult to say. I’m working on a new quiver for this year and definitely throwing some new and exciting shapes in the mix, so I will get back to you on that one!
UB: Tell us about your best moment in surfing so far.
TM: Again, so many memorable moments... I am sure I will be able to tell you my best moment in surfing this year.
UB: Any pre surf rituals? Any records, books or philosophies that get you particularly pumped to charge waves?
TM: Good music and I always say a little prayer before getting in the water.
UB: You lead a very busy lifestyle balancing running a business, modelling and surfing. How is it you manage to deal with the day to day juggling of commitments? How do you think that surfing helps you keep order in the chaos of daily life?
TM: I’m still figuring this all out! Haha. Sometimes and more recently I honestly felt like there were just not enough hours in the day and I have had to learn to relax and realise that I cannot do everything at once. When all else fails, I pick up the phone and call my mother/manager/advisor/life organiser!
Surfing is my time to switch off from constant technology and worrying about the future or business. It really helps to put my life in to perspective and helps fuel the creative side of my mind which I have really needed in this last year. I feel like the constant running around comes to a stop when I get in the water and after surfing my life is returned to a normal pace and I am able to cope with things better... It makes me feel so alive and happy!
UB: Other than your business Ohana and surfing / fitness training, what other things hold your interest?
TM: I love the outdoors and adventuring, reading and learning new things that can empower my life. I really enjoy snowboarding or trying at least, scuba diving and traveling to new countries, not only to surf but explore beautiful places further in land. I love every opportunity I have to spend with my family and having grown up around boats, with brothers who sail means I can take my love for the ocean to another level! Anything fun, different and adventurous really interests me!
UB: Tell us more about your business venture Ohana in Fuerteventura.
TM: Having loved and enjoyed a career in both surfing and long distance running from a young age I always loved sports and the amazing lifestyle and benefits you are able to enjoy, not only physically but also mentally. After training many clients as well as celebrities in the UK in both surf and fitness, Ohana Fitness and Surf was born.
Ohana is Hawaiian for family and that is our motto - to make you feel like family and give you a sense or genuine support, no matter what your goals are. From standing up on a surf board for the first time, to starting a health and fitness programme you have been postponing for years.
The combination of favourable conditions and beautiful landscapes on my doorstep in Fuerteventura inspired me to use my qualifications and experience to help others improve their lifestyles, maintain their fitness while on holiday, learn to surf or improve their surfing while on holiday with combined packages for surfing and fitness as well as single options for both.
We offer everything from Luxury Boot camps, fitness sessions and Pilates both indoors and in the sunshine, private surf lessons, girls surf and fitness packages and so much more. As individuals we need to be inspired to make changes or do things we lack confidence in and what better place than in beautiful surroundings. I have had the privilege of being a part of some amazing achievements in both Fitness and Surfing and that is what in turn keeps me inspired!
UB: Speaking of Ohana and surfing fitness, you’re due to visit UK shores in 2014 to promote your Girls Surfing & Fitness Weekends. Tell us more, where will you be traveling to and what can people expect from the events?
TM: I am so excited about my Girls Surf and Fitness Weekends this year! I will be traveling to different spots along the West, East and South Coast of the UK throughout the year, where I will be offering girls of all ages a chance to either improve their surfing, learn how to surf and also improve their knowledge and desire to lead active and healthy lifestyles while making realistic goals while keeping the focus on having fun and meeting like-minded girls!
Having the support of so many wonderful sponsors means the girls will get to enjoy some surprise goodies as well as a surf bracelet workshop, BBQ, beach activities and much more! There will be an under 18's age group as well as over 18's and the aim is for girls from all different walks of lives to come together and feel inspired to achieve their goals, make new friends and go away feeling empowered after these two days!
The dates and locations will be finalised in the coming months and you can find them on my website, blog, Facebook pages and we will be running a few competitions for a few lucky girls to win a spot on these weekends.
UB: Plans for the future? (Ohana, Surf Schools & Personal)
TM: Right now I feel as though all my hard work, planning, relocating, traveling, training, frustration and persistence from the last few years has finally paid off and I can finally start the beginning of an exciting journey I have been waiting to start for so long and I just want to enjoy every second. My plans are to focus on growing Ohana Fitness and Surf in Fuerteventura as well as my Girls Surf and Fitness tour in the UK and Europe, enjoy traveling, competing and getting some good results along the way.
I also have some great sports modelling and fitness projects lined up, which are really exciting! I know that I can only plan until a certain point and leave the rest of the pieces to fall into place and present new opportunities along the way. As long as I am surfing, surrounded by my amazing family and friends, helping others to achieve their goals, enjoying every single opportunity and growing in all parts of my life and career I will be fulfilling my plans.
I feel so blessed to have such wonderful and supportive sponsors on board and am looking forward to growing with them in all areas of my life!