Editor’s Note: The Ocean Warrior course is available for download here. The course typically is priced at $499, but due to overwhelming response, they’re offering the course to The Inertia readers for $99 for a limited time. Check it out.
You might know Mark Visser. Among other things, he’s the dude who once charged giant Jaws at night. While you might think that he’s a fearless, thrill-seeking SOB, you’d only be a little bit right. As it turns out, Visser used to be terrified of the ocean. He almost drowned as a child, and his initial fear of the water was paralyzing. It inspired him to confront the fear head on, and more recently, he’s teamed up with Shane Dorian, Brian Keaulana, William Trubridge, Ant Williams, and many of the world’s most accomplished watermen to develop a course that would equip all surfers with the safety skills and confidence essential to begin and sustain a lifelong relationship with the ocean.
“In a nutshell, the course teaches people how to maximize their breath hold, become safe in the water, and how to tap into the secrets of the most elite waterman in the world so anyone at any level can become confident,” says Visser.
Visser and team call their curriculum the Ocean Warrior course, and they have guided students ranging from the Navy SEAL to big wave surfers like Garrett McNamara and two-time world champion Tyler Wright.
“It’s almost like a safety net, if that makes sense, of what to do, when to do it and how to handle yourself,” says Tyler Wright. “I think for all girls with any interest or just any curiosity about this…you know, jump right in.”
Visser says that his Ocean Warrior course teaches surfers, from beginners to big-wave chargers, essential skills that include: moving efficiently underwater, activating all five lobes in your lungs, oxygenating your blood for the single best breath, releasing stress and tension while sustaining a wipeout, and lifesaving rescue techniques and CPR.
“The problem is, no surfers have ever really taught this skill,” says Visser. “It’s always been people who don’t surf themselves teaching technical things about how to hold your breath. And guess what? Those skills are great, but they don’t often work when you’re in the surf. You’re dealing with things like currents, turbulence, high heart rates, your board, and so many other things. What’s applicable in one arena doesn’t always carry over to another.”
“I look at it like a toolbox,” says Garrett McNamara of the Ocean Warrior course. “You’ve got your toolbox, and you want to have really good tools.”
Whether you’re looking to push boundaries in bigger surf or getting acquainted with surfing for the first time, with instructors like Shane Dorian and Brian Keaulana, the Ocean Warrior course is worth a closer look.