Surf’s up at SAIT

Campus club sees high tide of surfing members

(Photos by Luke Morstad)

(Photos by Luke Morstad)

SAIT Surf is a new club at SAIT, with already more than 120 members who come together to learn and teach river surfing in landlocked Alberta. 

Ryan Morstad, a first-year business student at SAIT, founded the club. Morstad is from the west coast and struggled to find a surf community when he first moved here, even though he knew one had to exist. 

“I was trying to get into the river surfing community for a couple of years,” said Morstad. “I knew it was here, I just didn’t know where to start.” 

SAIT Surf is not exclusive to just SAIT students. In addition, Morstad also helps run the surf club at Mount Royal University, which is also open to the public. 

“We have friends that already know how to surf that come to the club, which is great because they help teach people.” 

Some club members build surfboards, and others are wave engineers who are great resources to help answer specific questions. 

During the winter months, the river by the 10th street bridge freezes, leaving only one advanced wave available to surf out in Kananaskis Country. 

“Winter surfing is not for beginners,” said Morstad.

According to Morstad, in the winter, conditions are more dangerous because it is cold.  However, once spring comes around, it’s easy to get good at river surfing and learn the safety required to ride that wave. 

Jessie Foster, a first-year SAIT journalism student, recently joined the club and went to one of their meet-and-greets at Lot 102 in Kensington. 

“It was really informative. They taught us about how we can be safe out on the river,” said Foster.

All the instructors are “Swift Water Rescue Certified,” said Morstad.  

Foster was a recipient of surf gear as part of a draw SAIT Surf held. 

Prize draws are just one of the many ways Morstad is keeping members ramped up this winter. He plans to have more meet-and-greets at local bars in Kensington, where members are offered preferred seating and happy-hour pricing.

During meet-and-greets, professional surfers such as Jacob Kelly, founder of Surf Anywhere, along with Neil Egsgard, president of the Alberta River Surfing Association, will share their knowledge of river surfing. 

Morstad has also partnered with a surfboard fitness studio, Studio Revolution, and plans on running some classes this year with the studio’s crew. 

Morstad is planning a surf trip to Tofino, B.C., which will take place during SAIT’s reading week, and will keep members updated via their Facebook page and e-mail list.

“It’s a great way to get involved in an awesome new surf community, a great way to stay in shape, and by the time you get to the ocean, you’ll be a pro,” said Morstad. 

Foster still considers herself an amateur when it comes to surfing and is excited to learn how to stay up on a board. 

“I hope to learn from the pros. There are some veterans in the club that pretty much set this whole scene up in Calgary, and I hope to learn from them,” said Foster. 

“It’s a good opportunity to borrow equipment and not have to buy your own stuff.”

The membership costs five dollars and includes a discount card for local bars in Kensington, free instructions from professionals, free board rental and access to a great community of like-minded individuals.

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