Tim Jones & Gillian Craig Istvan

The European Association of Surfing Doctors is always on the Search for special people in the surfing community, burning to share their personal experience regarding medical topics and surfing. Those individuals we call EASD Scouts. Some encounters seem to have more meaning than others, some are beneficial for our cause and some for the soul. This encounter was one for the soul!

Tim Jones & Gillian Craig Istvan

Tim Jones & Gillian Craig Istvan

On the last day of March 2012, just like a metaphor of truthfulness preceding the first of April, I have had the pleasure to meet one of the loveliest couple in the European surf-community. Let me introduce you to Gillian and Tim surfing for 45 years, living the endless summer, loving life, still hungry for the next set of waves, looking with opened eye´s towards the uncertain future and honouring the past.




Tim Jones

Tim Jones is 55, a Welsh gwerin (man), the type of person you would recognise in the Peniarth manuscripts. Raised in the harsh conditions of the 50 and 60´s. Like most of the Welsh he is a passionate singer.

“Well at least we think we are, and if you can´t sing very good, keep it to yourself and sing anyway.”


This man started surfing in adapted „cut“ scuba wetsuits, when some even didn’t dare to swim in the waters of the west coast (Irish sea), being afraid of the massive chemical industry waste of the 50 and 60´s.

“When I was five I cut my trousers and sleeves of the shirts, to look like the beach boys did. Practicing the stance on my bed, by ten I was already dying to surf. My parents were always supportive regarding surfing, especially my mom, god bless her sole. We started in the 60´s with belly surfing and continued later with stand up surfing”.



The history of Bellyboard surfing started in his family with his father, who was in Goa during the second world war. Being in the Parachute Brigade, stationed on the sea shore of the Indian ocean, gave him the opportunity to learn surfing. Belly boarding has a long history, being practiced in the UK, especially in the west country from the early 1900. Where the idea was originally brought to England by sailors and taken up by a coffin maker from Cornwall, building the first belly boards in the UK.

Tim got his first real surfing wetsuit as a present form his father in 1970, it was a Body Glove product.

“By this time the wetsuits were very thick and made for diving, the only thing you could move were your legs and the neck area wasn’t sufficiently covered, so the water got in anyway and you couldn’t move properly”.

Tim is a proud father of three boys, the youngest Daniel is working with him as surf-instructor on Lanzarote. He founded his surf school in Lanzarote in 1996.

“It was a commercial choice, Lanzarote being only 4 hours from main land Europe, having the most constant waves in Europe. It was perfect environment for my kids, having the possibility to learn two languages, this seemed to me the right decision. I always tried to include the family into the sport, even my mom was surfing together with me, here in Lanzarote. She had her last surf here in Famara with me at the age of 78, what an incredible woman!”

Since the 90´s he has developed on Lanzarote a very successful enterprise, teaching many amateurs and professionals, enjoying the life, living his dream.

During our talk, we came upon many topics, one was localism; which in the perspective of a senor surfer produces a surprising but essentially logical opinion. Thoroughly thought trough, very wise words coming from Tim.

“Localism has a function, most of the time is for the benefit of the new on the spot, or the beginner. To be honest, I believe it is a reaction by the experienced surfer, in order to spare people of danger. Of course the beginners should get the opportunity to learn, all of us were beginners. Localisam and dealing with it is always a matter of conditions in the break.”

“Speaking of localism the other side has to be shown and understood, when I wrote for the Sormriders Guide about Lanzarote, I have noticed that the surf spots were renamed by non natives, this is not the way to go. I took the maybe unpopular decision to rename the spots into their original names. I think, it is a shame that people come from other country’s and rename the spots, this has to stop, respect the local cultures.”

One of us might ask, how is such an experienced surfer like Tim shaping his future and what are the possibilities of developing further projects in life. Never short of an answer this man, together with some stunning names (Mark Vaughn, Sam Lamiroy, Joey Buran, Nigel Sammens) out of the UK surfing scene started a new association called Surfing Great Britain.

The aim, concern and goal is to implement serious coaching for beginners and intermediate surfers for young and old ! enhancing the quality and structuring the approach.

“In Europe we are faced with completely different crowd of people compared to the rest of the world. These people are not directly in touch with the sport in every-day life. It is a European phenomenon to start surfing with an average of 20 years of age. In the traditional surfing countries they start as grommets. There are excellent structures for young people starting to surf, in Europe there aren´t. That´s why its extremely important to boost the physical and physiological preparation before you go to surf. The awareness of coaches has to be high in this topic.”

“We are absolutely convinced of the beneficial health effects of surfing. This can be shown not only on people with depressions and disabled persons, but we have also some great experience with visualy impaired people..”

Gillian Craig Istvan

On the 31.03. I had an appointment with Tim, but to my surprise a lovely lady was also present, she lives in a partnership with Tim is 50 years old and tells a life story as equally exiting. I would like to introduce you to Gillian from Scotland.

“Surfing is a contact sport”

Gillian started surfing in Newquay (2001) with 40 years of age, this fact alone makes her in my eye´s an extremely interesting character.

“I fell head over heels in love with surfing, which resulted in my life taking a totally unimagined turn. As many unaware beginners, I started with a wonderful ignorance, not knowing anything about rips, rocks and with no plans becoming a surf instructor. It led me to meeting Tim, selling up in London and moving to Famara, surfing as much as I could, qualifying as a Beach Life Guard, Level 1 then Level 2 British Surfing Association coach and finally a Level 1 International Surfing Association coach. None of this was planned….if someone had told me when I was 39, that this was all going to happen, I would have laughed at them, but there you go!”

She is originally a Scottish lass from Gourock, but has seen the world, lived in Portugal, the UK, Iraq, Bahrain, Turkey, Lanzarote. Just to point out some of her achievements, Gillan is proud mom of a son and a Marathon runner.

The incredible thing is, Gilliann´s and Tim´s parents were in the same generations of British Bellyboarders. Gillians parents went by motorbike from Glasgow to Cornwall just to bellyboard!

What do you love so much abot your job?

“It is wonderful and teaching others to surf is great fun. Seeing the clients’ joy when they stand for the first time, or catch their first unbroken wave, or finally perform a maneuver that they just could not master, is so rewarding. Passing on knowledge that brings people such joy is a fantastic job. Using Tim’s teaching/coaching system (anyone who works for him has to learn it inside out), is such a great tool to have, as it breaks down the whole process into clearly defined building blocks of drills and know-how and makes it so much easier for us to teach and for our clients to learn.”

This woman with a frequent smile on her face, has the ability to explain important life and surfing issues with few words, words of deep insight and accuracy. As she would put it:


“Profound words come from me in this partnership.”

Gillian today

Gillian today

During the talk, I was very much interested in the female view of surfing and the hard side of the sport.

“Surfing is a contact sport, that’s the first thing I like to say, you never know when you are going to be hit. You got to be prepared, always“

Regarding localisam she answered with a smile:

“I was shouted upon once! I guess the big advantage is my age I keep telling myself and the opponent, oh don’t get excited I could be your mom”. Surfing is such a competitive sport, even when I´m in the waves with Tim, we start to fight over who´s wave it is”.

Being a femail surfer of your age, what do your friends and family say to your personal choice of life and sport?

“Well a friend of mine just recently commented on one of my surfing photos; There must be a better way to go to the supermarket Gillian“

So what is actually your biggest benefit out of surfing today?

“I try to surf my way through menopause. “

And she smiles again.


24 hours non stop surfing for charity, Tim and the Support Team 24 hours non stop surfing for charity, Tim and the Support
Surfing with disabled children Surfing with disabled children Surfing for visualy impaired people Surfing for visualy impaired people

People like Gillian and Tim dedicated their life to surfing. Although not being sponsored by big companies or making millions through marketing, they lived decades, honouring the surfers code, paddling and duck diving through the breaks of life. This is an achievement endured by only few. Tim was already part of charity events, like the 24 hours charitiy surf, surfing for disabled children, is active in collecting donations for Sudan and has hence shown multiple times his humanitarian spirit. As recognition for their life long work and love for the sport, we have invited Gillan and Tim to become one of our first EASD Scouts. Never slow on a good decision, they have agreed and even more, they will support the EASD by becoming one of our donors for the EASD/Surfaid auction performed at the congress in Sagres 2012.

Personally, I am very proud that Gillian and Tim shared their story with the EASD. Their enthusiasm for our cause, their willingness to be a part of the movement is the living proof of the need for more medicine in the surfing world. It is the connection of medical knowledge and surf experience that will lead the path to a better future and health care for all surfers. Lets hope for more people of such qualities, supporting the EASD by becoming Scouts.!


Medical condition experiences:Acute:Sea Urchins stings, followed by infection

Nose broken in barrel, than passed out


Teeth loose after being hit by the board on thechin

Bruises, heaps of them throughout the years

Skin rashes produced by pollution

Infections of eye and skin by chemical industry waters

Chronic:: C 3-5 Osteophyts


Medical condition experiences:Acute:Bruises all over the bodySmashed mouth by the board

Pelvis injury by the board

Cuts to the feet

Sea urchins stings


Common surf school (lesson) injuries:

1. Sun burn

2. Rubs from the board on the hand,elbows,…

3. Ankle injuries

4. Rib contusions

5. Popping out of shoulders

6. Groin bust and stretches

7. Wet suit rubs

8. Problems with visual sight contacts andsand in the eyes

9.DehydrationCommon surf school (lesson) injuries:

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