US surfer Laird Hamilton rides a wave at Teahupoo in Tahiti on May 14, 2013. Top surfers in the world gathered in Teahupoo since the beginning of the week to ride waves up to 8 metres high. AFP PHOTO/GREGORY BOISSY (Photo credit should read GREGORY BOISSY/AFP/Getty Images)
Rupert Hill: Artist of the waves
00:52 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Ru Hill trained in fine art in London

However, his heart was in surfing and he opened a surf retreat in Costa Rica

He says following a passion is important, but it has to make financial sense

CNN  — 

Riding the crisp green waves that break into a whirl of foam on Costa Rica’s Pacific shore, Rupert Hill looks like he could surf before he could walk.

However, for the 37-year-old owner of Surf Simply, a surfing resort in Nosara, the sport was an early love that blossomed later in life. He first paddled out to the big blue when he was a teenager, but his professional life took a different turn when he embarked on a fine art degree in London.

In the end, the pull of the waves was too strong and Hill decamped to Costa Rica with a goal to create a surfing school with a difference.

“I wanted to create a really intimate space that was a long way away from the putting the lots of people in the water kind of business model that surf schools often are. I wanted to just have a few people, 12 people each week, and then this area is somewhere where they can completely decompress and just focus on being coached how to surf better,” he says.

A large chunk of the school’s training is devoted to theory classes, and Hill also films his students while they’re surfing so that he can show them what aspects of their technique they need to improve: “The first time you see yourself surfing, it’s kind of mortifying. It’s a little bit like hearing yourself sing for the first time. But, like most sports, it’s the best coaching tool we have,” he says.

Hill’s fine art credentials have not gone to waste though, as his creative training helped him design the website as well as the resort logo.

While following his passion for surfing was important, Hill stresses that figuring out how to make money out of it was equally significant.

“The business side of it has to work, the numbers have to make sense. Otherwise, what you’ve got is a brilliant hobby that’s not a business,” he says.

Hill says that, while he feels fortunate that his work fulfills him, it still involves ordinary tasks that can sometimes be mundane.

“I don’t think anyone is going to find a job that they love all the time, but if you can find something that you love most of the time, you’re luckier than most people in the world.”