My name is Brett Davies, or as everybody knows me in Ghana where I run a small surfing business, Mr Brights. Surfing has been an essential part of my life thanks to my father who introduced me some 40 years ago not only to the sport, but also its lifestyle. He started surfing in Australia in the late 1960’s after arriving from the UK. It was meant to be a short trip, but after surfing there, he instantly fell in love with the location and decided to stay for a while, making his first ever surfboard there. After eventually returning to the UK he began selling surfboards and surf equipment, and in 1990 introduced one of the leading surf equipment brands Da Kine to the UK.
It was thanks to my father that surfing became part of who I am. I still remember an unforgettable trip with him to the Southwest of France where I rode my first wave at the age of 7. Since then, I've surfed competitively at a high level and have worked in the surfing industry my whole life starting in one of the UK leading surf shops Northshore Surfshop, Newquay, then working for two of Europe’s leading surfboard manufactures (Chris Jones and Nigel Semmons), and finally moving to one of the world’s leading surfing brands Rip Curl where after 8 years I was promoted to be the European product manager for Rip Curl wetsuits and relocated to the firm’s European headquarters in France.
In 2007 I came to Ghana to check out the uncrowded waves and instantly fell in love with the country, the culture, people and of course the waves. I kept coming back to Ghana to surf, coach the locals and occasionally bringing some equipment. It was during one of the trips that a thought crossed my mind to set up a surfing business in Ghana and open a surf school. As crazy as it sounds, I decided to take the risk, give up my job at Rip Curl, trained to become a certified surf coach and moved to Ghana.
It took a few years to setup the surfing business and with the help of my local business partner and close friend, Mr Brights surf camp & tours a dream became reality. I took every opportunity to spread the word and meet a growing surfing community in the neighboring countries. In 2009 I was invited to Cote d’Ivoire to participate in a surfing event and sponsored three young Ghanaian surfers to join me and represent their country. It was an amazing experience for everybody, but especially for the young Ghanaian surfers who had never left their country before, let alone meet surfers from other countries. Shortly after that, I was invited by Kame Surf from Cote d’Ivoire to open the first ever surf school in the country and spend some time to coach others. This became my life for a few years – during winter in Europe, I would go to Cote d’Ivoire to teach, and during the summer I worked for leading surf schools in France. These years provided me an opportunity to teach others but also to gain coaching experience and knowledge.
Fast-forward to 2010, when the head of ASP Africa (World Surf League) invited me to bring some surfers from Ghana to compete in a major junior surf contest at Vic Bay in South Africa. This was an opportunity not to be missed, so with the help of my friends, contacts in the surfing industry and a couple of fundraisers, we managed to raise the money to take a team of three Ghanaian surfers to compete. It was probably one of the best surf trips of my life and when it was done, I was ready to head back to Ghana and start my project.
Over the past decade, we have come a long way. I have shared my coaching skills and surf knowledge with the locals along the coast of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, including organizing 12 surfing competitions in both countries. I have fundraised and donated surfboards to surfers in Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone. But I still want to do more, as I know there is untapped interest and passion for surfing in West Africa and all that is needed is some extra help.
We’re located at a small fishing village called Kokrobite, which is only about 1 hour from the main capital of Accra. Before I arrived, there was no one surfing apart from some local kids riding waves on pieces of wood board. We now have a small surfing community of around 12 surfers. In the past I’ve helped 3 local surfers win an ISA (International Surfing Association) Scholarship. Surfing has changed their lives, it has giving them opportunities, exposure, and has empowered them giving them more confidence in the everyday struggles of life. These locals are already helping me to pass down the knowledge to the younger generation. With this all said I believe surfing is a positive trajectory for everyone living within surfing communities across the coast of Ghana, bringing in tourism where local business will benefit.
I am currently in the process of building Ghana’s first ever surfboard Factory, which would be the 2nd surfboard Factory in West Africa, the first was launched in Cote d’Ivoire 8 years back with the help of a good friend of mine Pierre Nicoud The West Factory. My factory is almost complete, and I am hoping to start building the first batch of boards the start of 2023.
This year we hosted a 5-day surf workshop, with the support of two organizations called Provide The Slide and Smile Wave Fund. Provide the slide is a German/Swiss NGO that gathers boards throughout Europe and then donates them to the surfing communities throughout West Africa. So far, they have donated surfboards to Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Ghana. We are their official partner in Ghana and in 2021 we organized the distribution of 60 boards to 6 surfing communities along the cost of Ghana teaching the kids valuable skills to look after the boards, repair them and other surf related skills.
During the surf workshop, we hosted around 15 surfers from different surfing communities along the coast of Ghana and taught them how to repair boards, lifeguarding skills, surf coaching, and surf competition judging skills. Most of the attendees have been giving surfing lessons and some own their own surf schools, but none have had any professional training. The workshop was a great success and skills are already being used and shared with the younger generation.
My next goal would be to raise funds to buy equipment to build around 20 surfboards with the help of local youth, and possibilities of job opportunities in the future. Once the boards have been produced, we will donate them to local surfers from across the coast of Ghana, but in the long run, the goal is to build locally and sell locally at an affordable price. I know that this is achievable, even though materials need to be imported from Europe. But with my longstanding relations and contacts in the surfing industry, we can do it! The math is simple - it would cost approximately $300 per board for materials (adding extra funds for purchasing hard wear, shipping, and to add the final touches to the factory) All together I calculate we would need to raise around $12,000 to make the project work.
That’s where you come in. I hope you could consider helping us in making this endeavor a success. I truly believe that the factory will be the catalyst for great things to come to Ghana: to develop surfing in Ghana, provide valuable skills and jobs and help placing Ghana on the international surfing map. Thank you for taking your time to read this, and I hope you can be a part of this success. And we plan to do just that – succeed together with you