Farmers take time out in the surf

Southland Surfing School founder and New Zealand surfing champion Jess Terrill will introduce farmers to surfing this week as part of the nationwide Surfing for Farmers initiative. Photo: ODT files

SOUTHLAND farmers are set to trade the paddock for the ocean following a push to take a break from the demands of the industry.

Agricultural workers have been encouraged to get off farm this Thursday and have a go at the Surfing for Farmers initiative of its kind in Southland.

Originally launched in Gisborne, rural real estate salesperson and long-time surfer Stephen Thomson came up with idea to introduce farmers to the joy of the sport.

“I was very much dealing day to day with farmers who were experiencing the stress and demands that their business brings.

“Seeing the statistics about farmers’ mental health, which are not good, it got me fired up to think there must be something I could do about it.”

Southlander Tom Slee, who grew up on a farm in Te Anau, was working in Gisborne when he met Mr Thomson and decided to give surfing a go.

The benefits he experienced from his time in the water made him want to share it with the rest of Southland.

“It’s a pretty cool thing to break up your week and get off farm and connect with people.

“Getting in the water refreshes you and surfing’s also a great physical activity.”

He reached out to mutual friend and Southland Surfing School founder Jess Terrill, who agreed to help out with the project.

Ms Terrill, who was also a New Zealand surfing champion, said she had heard about the Gisborne event last summer and was excited it was coming to her region.

“It’s so important for farmers to get off the farm and the beach is the perfect place to catch up with some mates and have a few laughs afterwards.”

Surfing was a great way to take a break away from everything and look after your energy, she said.

“It pushes pause on everything else and is invigorating for not only your body, but your mind too.”

While the activity could seem daunting for farmers, the sessions would be catered to beginners.

“Even those people who may not have the confidence, you don’t have to be a world-class swimmer to have a go.”

Southland Rural Support Trust chairwoman Cathie Cotter said it was a good excuse for farmers to get away from the usual business.

“Trying something new together, can only be a positive, especially at this time of year when things are all go on farm and it is easy to forget to have time out for yourself.

All surfboards and wetsuits would be provided and a barbecue would be held on the beach to wrap up the evening.

Depending on the weather and tide forecast, the first event would be held at either Riverton Rocks, Colac Bay or Monkey Island beach at 6pm.latest jordansNike Air Force 1 Shadow News, Colorways, Releases