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About Our Instructors

About Our InstructorsSERGIO PENALOZA, Owner & Lead Instructor

I was born in the Caribbean city of Cartagena, Colombia, where I learned about surfing from my best friend’s brother Alejandro, one of the first kids in town to get a surfboard. They were expensive then and hard to come by. I was 6 years old and I was hooked from that moment on. Surfing became my passion.

When I turned 14 my parents moved us to Miami Beach. After Hurricane Andrew in ‘92, I found an abandoned, beat up board in the alley behind our apartment. I fixed it up and for the first time, I had my own surfboard. I was ecstatic, and would head to the beach every day after school and on weekends. Consistent waves were tough to find, but hurricane season I learned, was the best time to be in the water.

One day during my high school years, I was sitting at the beach with my board watching a skilled surfer catch some waves. Desperate to improve, I paddled up to him and started asking questions. He was a Hawaiian surfer named Adam Salvio, and he became my surfing mentor. We lost touch after a few years, but I learned a lot from him. He introduced me to new surf spots around Florida, like Spanish House and Sebastian Inlet. I have to thank him for taking my surfing to a “better” level.

Back then I always dreamed of moving to California. After graduating from the University of Miami, in 2001 I moved to San Francisco where I learned to surf the freezing water of Ocean Beach, the long rights of Santa Cruz, and the many breaks NorCal has to offer. It was an adjustment from the smaller waves of Miami. Finally in 2005, seeking other dreams, better weather and warmer water I moved to Santa Monica. However, I’m grateful for my time in San Francisco because it was there that I met my wife Autumn. We now have two beautiful daughters who I can’t wait to get in the water with me.

Teaching surfing was a natural progression for me. I have surfed many places around the world including Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Hawaii and of course, all over California and Florida. I loved sharing the sport and became very successful teaching my friends, so I applied to local surf schools where I honed my skills. Now after 6 years teaching, I have my own school and I am more in love with the sport and teaching than ever. It never gets tiring to see people catch a wave for the first time. Their smiles are priceless. I hope to keep doing this for as long as my body lets me.

See you in the water!!

About Our Instructors


I started surfing about 15 years ago in San Diego. My older brother gave me my first lesson, which I felt was a disaster, but I had so much fun I decided to pursue it. About 8 years ago I decided to take it more seriously and devoted countless hours to surfing. I’ve been teaching both surfing and SUP full time for over 4 years now, and I truly believe that if you “choose a job you love, you will never work a day in your life”.

About Our Instructors

MIKE NEWTON, Instructor

I grew up in and around San Diego. I spent a lot of time in the ocean: sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Surfing is now how I spend most of my free time. I spent several years in Mexico teaching kids with a nonprofit program and I discovered that I enjoy teaching. Surfing is my favorite subject and I’m excited to help anyone accomplish learning how.

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