The story of Surf Happens began with the dream of a young wave rider named Christopher Keet. The son of two teachers, Keet grew up with the ocean near and dear to his heart, a formative and powerful passion that soon led to a lifelong love affair with the wonders of surfing. A ripping regular foot, Keet chased the professional surfing dream throughout his youth and right through his time as an undergrad at University of California at Santa Barbara, achieving more than his fair share of competitive success along the way.
However, it wasn’t until the walls of adulthood began to close in around him that he realized he could combine his desire to never leave the beach with the natural teaching talents his parents instilled in him from an early age and create something markedly more important than his singular pursuit of surf contest glory. Shortly thereafter, some 15 years ago, Surf Happens was born.
In the mid-1990s, around the time that he was wrapping up his degrees in Communications and English at UCSB, Keet began organizing surf contests and various ocean-based fundraisers for the university’s surf team. Putting on events like the Stu Peak Classic at Sands Beach and a three-contest series at the trio of popular surf breaks that surround the UCSB campus, Keet began to evolve his childhood dream of being a professional surfer. He started connecting with the larger surfing community and, practically by accident, began mentoring and coaching many of the groms that were turning up to his contests and hanging out on the beach.
Even as his role as a Contest Director continued to grow with the birth of the Santa Barbara Surfing Series in 1997 and the resurrection of the Rincon Classic in 2001, the evolution of Chris Keet the surf coach blossomed in earnest. After being approached by the parents of a few of the higher-performing surf sliders in the Santa Barbara area about becoming a personal coach for their children, the proverbial light bulb went on for Keet.
“I’ve always believed that it is the people in your life that make it special,” says Keet. “And I realized right then that sharing surfing with people, especially young people, and teaching it in a way that emphasizes integrity and personal responsibility would be dream come true for me.”
In 1999, Surf Happens surf school was officially formed, offering lessons for everyone from the land-loving first-timer to the contest-hardened veteran who sleeps every night with sand in his or her bed and dreams of a World Championship dancing in their head.
In the decade and a half since then, Surf Happens has grown into the undisputed top dog of surf schools on the South Coast. With a roster of world-class instructors – many of whom were once Surf Happens students themselves – Surf Happens does it all when it comes to spreading the gospel of surfing. There are Summer Surf Camps, After School programs, Spring Break Camps, Sleep Over Camps, Travel Camps, private one-on-one lessons, Elite Level Contest Coaching, and Corporate Outings. Even better, at the core of all these experiences, is a methodology forged in the fires of experience that not only guarantees that you become a better rider of waves but, perhaps most importantly, also promises to educate you in what it takes to be a more earth and ocean conscious individual in all aspects of your life. “The thing about surfing,” sums up Keet, “is that no matter where you are starting from, there is no finish line. It is a choose-your-own-adventure lifestyle.”
Chris resides in Carpinteria with his wife and two sons.