Gabriel Lanoix - Barefoot Surf Travel
When and where did you start surfing?
I started to surf at 13 in Florida, where my grandparents live. I mostly surfed a spot called 2nd light beach. A few years later I realized I could surf back home, in the St-Lawrence river. Because my trips to Florida were so few and far between, it was in the river where I was able to develop my surfing when I was away from the ocean. River surfing is a great way to progress because you can surf a wave for much longer than you would in the ocean (check out my friends at KSF.ca if you want to try it in Montreal!).
What is it that you love about surfing?
I'm a pretty quiet person and I think too much, surfing helps me clear my mind. When you get older, it seems the world is so much about the future, money and responsibilities. When I surf I only focus on the present and enjoying every wave.
You have made a living from surf travel, do you have a favorite destination or break?
The Mentawai islands.
How did the idea for Barefoot come about and how did you go about making it a reality?
There aren't many inland Canadians that travel specifically for surfing. Whenever I would come back from a surf trip my friends would always say how much they wished they to could do the same trip I had done but felt like they couldn't. The reasons being: they didn't speak the local language, they didn't know anything about surfing (equipment, spots, hazards, etc.)
So Alex (co-founder) and I decided to bring people on the same surf trips that had changed our life.
What tours/ services do you currently offer?
We offer 7-day trips to Nicaragua, 10-day trips to Ecuador and 3-week trips to Indonesia.
What is the philosophy behind Barefoot?
We are a surf travel company that believes in freedom, simplicity and delivering the most pure surf trips. We're a team of passionate surfers who share their love for surfing while offering an authentic travel experience.
How do you differentiate from the competition?
I think one big difference is that we never even thought about "opening a surf school". We wanted to bring people on the surf trip of a lifetime.
Travelling the world for surfing is our biggest passion and this is what we want to share with our people. For us, a surf trip is much more than going to a surf school and learning to stand up on a board. We want our travellers to experience the country, the culture, the people, while learning everything they need to know about surfing according to their level (beginners and intermediates).
Besides the big idea, I think we differentiate with:
- Our staff: we hire the most passionate and most friendly surf guides possible).
- Our relationship with local communities: everything we do is in collaboration with local people. We have a great relationship with locals in all our destinations.
- It's not our 9 to 5 to teach surfing. We're actually excited to travel and share our passion for surf with our people.
- We offer a whole group experience. People start and end a trip with a group of travellers that share memories that last a lifetime.
- Our business model has lots of flexibility. Not being at the same destination year round, we can follow the seasons of sunshine and waves while avoiding the onshore months.
What is your role at Barefoot and what does it entail?
My role is divided in 2 categories: administration and surf travel.
For the administration part, I mostly take care of marketing, advertising, accounting and business strategy.
Surf travel is the fun part. I travel the world to surf, meet the nicest local surfers to help us with the trips and find the best accommodation for our travellers. It's also a lot more work than that (reservations, equipment management, transport, flights, planning, etc.)
What can we expect to see from you guys in 2015?
We are planning more surf trips to Indonesia and Ecuador. Also we are planning to make new videos presenting the experiences we offer, from a traveller perspective.
We are looking forward to expanding our team of passionate surf guides, mostly in other Canadian provinces and in the USA.
Ps. If you're reading this and you are a passionate surfer interested in representing our brand in your area (and surf & travel the world), write to us at: [email protected]
What is it that you love about your job?
I get to surf almost everyday, meet new people, discover many different ways of living, and of course not having a boss is great :)
Where can we find you online?
Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on January 26, 2015
Shannon Glasson - Ocean Photographer
James McMillan - Byron Bay Surf Festival Director
Shannon Hughes - WSL & ISA Commentator
Craig Sims - White Horses & Surfing Life Publisher
Luke Kennedy - Editor of Tracks Magazine
Simon ‘Swilly’ Williams - Surf Photographer
Jarra Campbell - the Bondi Alchemist
Greg Gordon - Owner of CR Surf
Shayne Nienaber - Surf Photographer
Alexa Hohenberg - Owner of Still Stoked