Passionated by Surf, António Pedro de Sá Leal is now leading the Surfrider Foundation Lisboa. He recently published a book - Surfing - The Next Step - on the Surf lifestyle, explaining the ethical issues of our century toward this sport.
As a life philosophy, he understood the humanity impact on our beloved planet and decided to be part of the change. He described himself as a life dreamer, we let you judge.
Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves, and beaches through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 250,000 supporters, activists and members worldwide. For more information on the Surfrider Foundation, visit: www.surfrider.eu.
António you’re in charge of SURFRIDER Foundation Lisboa, can you explain to us what is Surfrider and why is it so important for the surf industry to take care of the environment.
You already published two books towards the surf lifestyle, in your point of view what are the main values of this sport and what philosophy you want to share with others?
When I was 22 and finished the University with a degree in Philosophy, I realize that I would like to do something of my life that I really enjoyed. And that was surf and being in the Ocean, so I made my path trough surf and in the surf.
Surfing is something that puts me in sync with the planet, with nature, and in the end with myself. More than a sport, for me Surfing is a lifestyle dedicated to love, exercise, meditation, sustainability, nature and the other.
What are the main challenges you have decided to accept with Surfrider Foundation?
Mainly when I was asked to be part of Surfrider Foundation I accepted the challenge to change the world and be part of a world movement that defends the planet and the Ocean. This meant that I had to be part of the solution every day, and influence others to change first their point of view, and after their behaviour. This is easy to be said than done, so it is a constant challenge to prove that the solution is in our hands, and not in other people/government/company hands.
If each one of us understands the empowerment he or she has we can make this a better world and ultimately save ourselves.
When did you realize our environmental issues and why did you decide to take actions?
When you surf all year around and you face the Ocean pollution there is this urge to take a step. I started surfing when I was a teenager and since the beginning, I realize that need to take some action toward the environment. Years later my company organizes the main Surf events in Portugal and we decided that was the perfect stage to promote the defense of the ocean, so around 2005 we started to do a beach clean-up in every stop we did, and really start to raise awareness on the environment.
You're also the founder of an organization that supports surf therapy, can you explain with our readers what is "Surf-Therapy" how does it work and what are its benefits?
Surf Social Wave Association is a non-profit organization that works based on two principles.
The first one is what surfers learn every time they go surfing. They need to adapt to different conditions, sometimes waves are bigger, sometimes is really bad and we can not catch waves, but there are also other times when you take a chance and catch that wave that stays with you all week. This kind of things also happens in “real” life. Sometimes we go to work and everything goes wrong, other times we need to change our views and strategies, but also so lots of times we take a chance that payback really good – so our idea is to use the learnings of surfing and transport them to people that are in a fragile social situation – and that we do trough surfing, and surf lessons.
The second principle has to do with the growth of the economy around the surf. In Portugal it is estimated that Surfing represents something like 400 million Euros per year and that we have around 212.000 surfers every year, so this means also that there is an increase of new professions around surf – from surf teachers to designers, to marketers, to board shapers, to doctors, to event managers, to Surfcamp managers just to refer some professions – this recent growth represents also two things, first a lack of specialized people to develop some areas but also an opportunity for people in unemployment to find a new profession.
We decided to combine these two principles and what we do is trough surfing we present people to a new path to their lives – we are currently working with the employment institute (IEFP) in Portugal, and also with Cascais City Hall (CMCASCAIS)– we are closing on a model that works and that we can transfer to other places around Portugal and around Europe and who knows around the world.
Do you have any eco living / zero waste tips you want to share with our readers? Such as small things that you do day by day that improve the global footprint?
There is a famous quote from Gandhi that says something like this “be the change you wish to see in the world”. I live by this and my better tip is to look around and be that change you wish to see, this means that if you feel you can walk, don’t take the car, if you don’t need something don’t buy it, if you want to eat healthy support local food producers, and commerce – small things can really make a difference.
Do you have any environmental documentary related to surf or marine life that you can recommend to our reader and that has changed your vision?
Maybe not a movie, but a book that helps me to understand a little better where the solution to the sustainability can be it, is called - The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken.