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Q&A with surf specialist Tasha Mentasti on: Waves For Change

When you combine fierce determination, unstoppable optimism, and a passion for making a difference, you’ll find yourself in the company of Tasha Mentasti. A multiple title-winning professional surfer, Tasha has...

When you combine fierce determination, unstoppable optimism, and a passion for making a difference, you’ll find yourself in the company of Tasha Mentasti.
A multiple title-winning professional surfer, Tasha has transitioned from her successful career to a role as a surf educator with the non-profit organization, Waves for Change. Through this initiative, she employs her deep-seated belief in the transformative power of water to nurture and empower South African surf communities.
Tasha recently made history by becoming the first woman globally to be appointed Head Coach of a national junior surfing team – just one more step in her ongoing efforts towards fostering inclusivity in the sporting industry.
In a recent Q&A, the team at Lumar Active delved into Tasha’s journey, discussing her involvement with Waves for Change, her passion for surfing, and the mindset that has propelled her through each milestone of her career.

I wanted to be able to help get more people into the ocean and connect with nature, because in doing this – they were able to reconnect with themselves.

Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about who you are, your background and where you find yourself in the world today?

Born in Durban, South Africa – the Indian Ocean was my playground from a very young age.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small coastal town with a variety of waves and a father whose love for surfing was passed down to his children. Weekend surfs with the family was a tradition that is still carried through today.

My love for the sport of surfing was ignited at an early age and thanks to the support from a thriving surf community, I was able to excel in my junior surfing career winning multiple national titles. My competitive nature and adventurous character enjoyed having my skills tested when surfing new waves and exploring new places, and it was an easy decision to commit to becoming a professional surfer and competing on the WSL Qualifying Series for a couple of years.

Surf coaching came naturally to me and during my off time on the professional circuit, I spent my days offering surfing lessons in my hometown of Durban. It was during this time that I realized that surfing was more than just a sport but rather a lifestyle – a healthy lifestyle that had a positive effect on the human body.

The transition from competing at international surfing events to working behind the scenes at these events was fairly easy when I hung up my rash vest in the competitive arena.

From being voted as the Women’s Representative at all WSL Africa events, to being appointed as the first woman to sit on the Board of Directors for Surfing South Africa – my surfing journey changed direction after a couple of years and I started fulfilling a more administrative role within the South African surfing community.

As Operations Manager for the National Federation – Surfing South Africa – I committed my time to helping develop and grow the sport within the country. In this role, I was opened up to the world of adaptive surfing and found my passion and purpose while working within the SSA structures.

Having been involved with the sport of surfing for over three decades, I now offer my services and expertise to a variety of surfing organizations and brands with a key focus on surf education, development and surf therapy. I feel I have more reach acting as a consultant and offering guidance and mentorship to people in under-served coastal communities.

Helping to create safe and supportive ocean spaces fuels my desire to keep pushing to see more diverse and inclusive surf zones within all surfing communities around the world.

As a woman riding a variety of different ‘waves’ in the surfing world, can you tell us what you do for ‘a living’?

I am very fortunate to make a living by doing all things surf-related. I call myself a Surf Specialist – offering my knowledge and expertise in the sport of surfing. This entails working alongside the International Surfing Association (ISA) by facilitating surf education programs in underserved African countries; offering my time to the globally recognised surf therapy organization – Waves For Change in South Africa as well as commentating at international surfing events for the World Surf League. All things surf related in some way or form.


How did you find yourself as a Waves for Change (W4C) Surf Trainer?

Having known the founders Apish Tshetsha and Tim Conibear, I was witness to seeing their concept become a reality in 2010 while working at SSA. I have supported and volunteered my time to the Waves For Change family for the past 10 years. In 2021, W4C approached me to make a bigger commitment to the organization and start working with the local Western Cape beach hubs in the capacity as Surf Trainer.


Can you tell us a little bit about the organization and your role within it?

Waves for Change grew from voluntary weekend surfing sessions run at Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town, by founders Apish Tshetsha and Tim Conibear. Early research into the surfing sessions highlighted the valuable psycho-social support that was otherwise unavailable to the participants. W4C now provides child-friendly mental health services to children and young people in under-resourced coastal communities.

Offering surf therapy sessions combines the positive health benefits of surfing and physical activity with activities proven to help young people build protective relationships, identify emotions, self-soothe and build a positive image of their future.

My role as the Surf Trainer is to educate and train the Caring Coaches (who work with at-risk children daily) with ocean knowledge, foundational surfing skills and basic water safety techniques to help provide a safe and supportive ocean space.

For more information about, go to Waves For Change

What do you love most about the organization?

The W4C bananas culture. A term created at W4C to promote protecting each other and ourselves from harm, respecting each other and ourselves and always having open communication about how we are feeling.


Giving back is obviously a big part of your personal vision, can you tell us where this came from and how it has informed your life’s direction?

Surfing gives me the freedom of expression and the ocean is my sanctuary. I can leave all my troubles on land and the ocean allows me to be very present. I have always wanted to give back to the sport that has given me so much, and I feel that by sharing my knowledge and experience – I am playing a positive role in helping be the change that this world needs.


What is your vision for a better world?

For more people to be connected to nature, because by connecting to nature – we are reconnecting with ourselves on a much deeper level.

By tapping into the natural rhythm of nature, we can be free of the hold that society has on us – even if for a brief moment.

I also want to see more diverse and inclusive ocean spaces around the world. The ocean heals.


What are the next waves you’re riding outside of the water?

Having been appointed as an ISA Expert in 2022, I am fortunate to be able to travel and explore the continent of Africa more while educating and supporting under-developed African surfing nations.

With surfing now an official Olympic sport, there is a major push by the IOC to help develop the sport in Africa through funding by Olympic Solidarity. This is a step in the right direction to see more diverse surfing line-ups in the future.


In April 2023 I will be facilitating the historic and first-ever ISA African Youth High Performance Surf Camp in Senegal. This camp invites athletes under the age of 18 from 10 African surfing nations to participate. The aim of the HPC is to help train and educate young African surfing talent to be able to compete on an international level.


Part of the curriculum is utilizing various surf coaching techniques, building mental focus and stamina, learning how to manage heats in surfing competitions, understanding their role as a sponsored athlete, media and sponsorship etc etc


And lastly, can you share a quote to live by?

Let the sea set you free.  Or my favorite quote by Nelson Mandela – “It always seems impossible until it is done



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