Life is Better When You Surf® - Krista Dixon

Life is Better When You Surf® - Krista Dixon

This week we have a chat to the truly remarkable Krista Dixon, founder of Live for More: an amazing organisation (based in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand), that builds strong rapport and healthy, lasting relationships with rangatahi/young people through their surf therapy programmes.

GSI: Hi Krista, Tell us a bit about Live for More and how it came to be.
KD: Live for More officially came to existence in 2016, however the idea and vision I had for Live for More was birthed many years before that. I long had a dream since I was a teenager to combine my passion for surfing with my passion for helping others. I knew the power of surfing and the stoke it had brought into my own life could be used in therapeutic ways to help others. Long story short, I studied psychology, then worked at a youth rehab, my passion for those struggling with addictions grew, I worked as a drug counsellor, I could see the need to do "more" and get outside the four walls of an office.... and after a lot of work and perseverance, Live for More was birthed and the party waves of surf therapy programmes have been endless ever since!!

GSI: How old were you when you learnt to surf? Where was it and who taught you?
BR: I was 14 when I started to surf. I was living in southern California at the time, but I didn't come from a surf family (and I remain the only one in my family who surfs!). So I was 14 and a good friend of mine was interested in surfing and asked if I wanted to give it a try with her. We bought some secondhand surf gear (old school wetsuits and beat up boards!) and just went to the beach and gave it a go on our own! I instantly loved it and pursued going more often. I never took any lessons but just went heaps and figured things out on my own. When I went to university a few years later in Santa Barbara, I was living right on the beach and able to surf much more. I am still so thankful for that friend who invited me to go surfing 22 years ago... and sometimes I wonder where my life might be had she not ask me to try surfing with her!

GSI: What is the best tip you have for anyone learning to surf?
KD: The best surfer is the one having the most fun! It's not just about the waves or the conditions or catching the "best waves"... just go out there and have fun, share the stoke and enjoy the waves you get! I've had some of the BEST surfs of my life in 1 foot conditions on a foamie going out with no expectations.

GSI: Tell us about a surf session that really sticks in your mind?
KD: I've had some pretty fun surf sessions in Bali over the years. Pre-Covid and kids, I was going to Bali each year to escape NZ winter and surf my brains out! Surfing in Bali always pushed me to catch bigger (and much scarier!!) waves and get me out of my comfort zone just enough to grow and take some bigger drops. I can think of a few epic sessions at Balian, which is a river mouth with a long left and short right. Every now and then everyone would get cleaned up by a wide set. I remember in some of those instances, paddling my heart out towards the horizon and praying as the giant waves approached "God help me to either get OVER this wave or get UNDER it!" Even though some of those sessions would be freaky for me, all it takes is one good wave and successful drop to build your confidence and show you that if you commit (and not hesitate!), you CAN have an epic ride!

GSI: What is your favourite surf spot?
KD: I am a sucker for right hand point breaks! Learning to surf in southern California, my favourite place to surf was Rincon. I've had some epic sessions there with good childhood friends over the years. Here in NZ, I love Okiwi and even Mount Main beach on a great day when it's working just right! Give me wally rights any day and I am pretty satisfied!

GSI: Can you tell us about the GSI Softboards you guys use in the Live for More program?
KD: We have been so blessed to have the support of GSI and recently got heaps of new boards from them. The new boards have been awesome! They have expanded our Live for More "quiver" to have some smaller and/or narrower boards instead of just the basic beginner boards, so the young men we work with can advance in their surfing when ready and ride some boards with less volume. We now have boards ranging from 6'6 up to 9'0! The boards are in the water four days a week, being used for our surf therapy programmes supporting high-risk young men and empowering them to turn their lives around. The boys absolutely froth in the water and love surfing, and amazingly even though they have never surfed before, they pick it up very quickly and progress so well!

GSI: Our company mantra is ‘Life is Better When Your Surf®” how does that statement resonate with you?
KD: I definitely agree!! Life is SO much better when you surf and there is so much research out there now proving why this is. Personally, I find that getting in the water resets me mentally and calms my mind. It's cleansing in so many ways; literally the water washes you off but it also cleanses your wairua (spirit). Surfing also gets my endorphins cranking and I feel so stoked after a good surf and waves! There truly is nothing that compares to surfing and I love that surf therapy is a growing movement around the world, gaining momentum and transforming so many lives! Surfing truly is medicine and it's the best kind!

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