Surfing and more surfing at new Laguna shop

Soul Surf owners Chris and Karen Williams have taken the plunge by opening their first shop at 763 S. Coast Hwy. last month.

"It's important to have a location doing what we do," he said.

The company runs surf lessons, surf programs, corporate parties and an after-school surf team, Chris Williams said. It had a grand opening for its new location in early March.

The Soul Surf surfing team, a big part of the company, counts about 25 local children. Williams said he is taking a "club soccer team" approach to the surfing team, tapping a USA Surf Team medical director and using a strength/flexibility program to create top-notch surfers. They also incorporate weekly gym workouts and board training with Hamboards, a type of long skateboard that mimics the feeling of surfing on a wave.

Williams, who is a former columnist for the Coastline Pilot, had been running the business from the couples' home the past 10 years.

The new shop also sells Hamboards, made by a Huntington Beach-based company.

"We fell in love with those boards and it's what surfing feels like out in the waves," he said.

The surfing team uses the boards to train and rough out some of the edges — or surfer mechanics — while on land, Williams, 43, said. The store also gives the team a place of their own, with the children's pictures hanging on the walls of the new shop and images of surfing and skateboarding displayed on a flat screen TV.

Williams previously worked in special events for Las Brisas Restaurant before launching Soul Surf, he said. He grew up in town, and remembers learning to surf off El Morro Canyon beach with his dad at age 3 or 4. He's been in Laguna pretty much ever since.

One cool element of the business: a weekly surf camp for children at Camp Pendleton.

"They have no grasp of ocean awareness or safety," Williams said about the children on the military base. "We take the kids from our surf team and they give back and teach other little kids with boogie boards or surf boards [how to surf and boogie board]."

Getting good at something, like surfing, comes with a price, Williams said, often creating a bit of an ego in children. Even the team members' parents pitch in, he added.

"What I want to do is have our kids be humble...this keeps them grounded," he said.

In the summer, the company provides private surf lessons for tourists and visitors, overnight surf camps in La Jolla and San Clemente, ocean and adventure programs for young children, and skimboarding for children 5 to 7 years old.

Karen runs the administrative side of things while Williams spends most of his time in the field. During the off season, the company counts about 12 employees, rising to 35 to 45 in the summer.

The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and by appointment for other times; call (949) 637-0463 or

Twitter: @agomezberman

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World