Rosie Jaffurs remembers her very first surf session like it was yesterday. She was sitting on the beach, watching her father and brother surf their favorite local spot. At a mere 10 years old, Rosie was comfortable in the ocean - a strong swimmer - but hadn’t yet given surfing a try. That all changed when her brother came to the beach and dropped his board in the sand. He was breathing heavy and in need of a rest. Rosie felt the call, made a split decision, grabbed the board, and paddled out. Without hesitation, she turned around and caught the rolling white water, made it to her feet, and was instantly hooked. She paddled back out, caught another wave, and surfed that one to shore as well. To this day, the ocean has been the center of Rosie’s universe. As a North Shore surf instructor, she shares her special connection to the ocean on a daily basis with her family, friends, and the visitors she teaches. Rosie is the epitome of a surf-stoked wahine, ever-appreciative and respectful of the ocean, and always sharing aloha with her entire ‘ohana. We caught up with Rosie after a day in the water to find out more about sharing the stoke of surfing and how it has given so much to be thankful for.
How did the ocean become such a focal point in your life?
We don’t have any shopping malls here and there’s nothing else to do besides going hiking. Hiking is fun, but being in the ocean is way more fun. I’ve always thought how lucky I am to have the ocean and not have to go to a shopping mall and spend money. Surfing is free once you get your surfboard, and you can enjoy it as much as you want - and I always feel better once I get in the ocean and catch a wave.
How did you get into teaching surfing?
I always thought about what I could do in life in order to make money but be happy at the same time. At the time, I was working in a food truck. I worked long hours and I just knew I was missing out on surf. Teaching surfing was like a win-win-win situation, because surf lessons weren’t always allowed on the North Shore. It’s a recent thing, but it became popular with my generation. We’re all super stoked to teach people and stoke ‘em out on surfing.
What brought you to want to share your passion with others?
There’s a saying, "sharing the stoke". Not only does it make me feel good, but you’re making someone else feel good. It’s seeing the smile on their face, and for some reason I just know how good it feels. It’s just like a magical feeling and they just need one good wave, or even just to stand up. It’s a personal accomplishment. For me, it feels like you’re flying and it’s the most magical feeling you could get on this earth.
You’re also instructing local kids on surfing and ocean knowledge. Why is that important to you?
Surfing is extremely hard. I’ve been doing it for 20 years and some days I still feel like I just started. I’ve learned a lot over the last 20 years, and if I can share that knowledge with the kids, it makes me feel like they can get better faster, rather than how long it took me to get good. Ultimately, it feels good to share the knowledge and teach them the way; surf étiquette and respect to your elders is the most important thing. I don’t force it upon them, but I share it with them in the nicest way possible; I tell them that they have to have respect for other people, no matter where they're from. Everybody’s out here trying to have a good time, so we all need to make sure we share.
What have you learned about yourself through teaching?
I feel like teaching surfing has made me so much more comfortable, and it also taught me so much about surfing. Also, I’ve matured because of it. It taught me how to talk to new people; I’ve learned to basically calm them down because they were facing a life fear of theirs, or something they’ve always wanted to do. I’ve made so many lifetime friends and it’s only been about seven years now that I’ve been teaching. I have so many repeat people that come back to the Islands every year to go surfing, and I can call them my friends—I still keep in touch with all of them. It’s like something magical just happens when you're here in Hawai‘i.
Do you ever find yourself saying, “Lucky we live Hawai‘i?”
Lucky we live Hawai‘i is just life on a daily basis. Not every day is perfect, but even on the good days, I find myself repeating, "I’m just so lucky to live here". I’ve always thought to myself, how did I get so lucky to be born and raised here, just growing up out here in this beautiful location? Not to mention the perfect surf, and then during the summer, it’s just a beautiful lake and you can go dive. I am happy I get to enjoy something without having to spend so much money. Going to the beach in general makes you feel good, and just makes you feel lucky.