Meet Our Surf Instructor Reed

“It all started at the young age of four and a half years old, when my father just threw me out there on a fiberglass shortboard, no tips. He just said, ‘Reed, you’re gonna surf.’ And there I was riding the wave. Not standing up, though. But then as time went on, I slowly stood up. And now here I am 19 years later.” 


Reed Samtmann is one of our surf instructors here at the San Diego Surf School. She has been catching waves since she was a grom. And while many assume that California surfer girls were born and raised in SoCal, surrounded by warm water and year round surf, Reed has a unique surfing history. Her nineteen year surfing career has taken her to different parts of the United States where she has excelled in both short boarding and longboarding by setting goals and pushing herself to be the best that she can be. 


Pawleys Island, South Carolina 

When Reed was only four and a half years old, she learned to surf in a small town called Pawleys Island in South Carolina. With an older brother and a dad that both paddled out regularly, Reed looked up to them as a toddler and wanted to figure out how to surf like them. And while her dad’s strategy for teaching her held the logic of sink or swim, Reed is grateful that her dad threw her in the water with a board at a young age because it allowed her to work towards her goals by sovlungprobelms idependelty. Reed says that, “I had a goal in my mind. And I knew that I needed to stand up. So I had to figure out how to stand up.” This kind of goal oriented mindset has allowed Reed to push herself and improve her skills. And this practice began a part of Reed’s daily life. 

“I learned on shortboard, which is kind of backwards but I would go every day after school, and we would surf until it was dark. It would always be, my dad, my brother, some of my best friends, my brother’s friends, and we just all go out there as a gang and just try, I would try, and surf. But as time went on, I got better and I could actually surf and keep up with them.”

Once Reed had improved  her surfing skills, she began to venture out of South Carolina. Through her travels through the States, Reed has held on to what she learned when she was a grom trying to surf in South Carolina to keep up with her dad and older brother. She continues to push herself to be the best that she can be while setting goals that she works to achieve. 


Melbourne Beach, Florida 

“We started traveling. So we would always spend the summer in Florida and surf like Sebastian inlet. After I got better and better I started putting myself in competitions.” 

Once Reed was good enough, her family started traveling to places with waves. These family trips soon shifted to surf trips where Reed would travel to surfing competitions. From age 10 to 14, Reed competed in shortboarding surfing competitions on the east coast. 


Los Angeles, California 

At seventeen, Reed moved to the west coast, saying, “My main reason I moved to California was to be an actress. But I knew that the surf was good here. And I saw the longboarding waves. I figured, ‘Oh I want to try longboarding.’ So I started longboarding. I got into it in California.”  While she had dreams to move to Hollywood to act, surfing was always in the back of Reed’s mind. She embraced the chill Cali culture by taking up longboarding and surfed SoCal on a nine foot noserider. For the next five years Reed longboarded her way through Southern California. 


Palm Springs, California 

After living on the coast, Reed moved inland to Palm Springs where she was a lifeguard. Because she lived in the desert, she took two years off surfing and instead began skating. But she said, “I missed surfing. I realized when you fall with a skateboard, it’s not fun. So then I really missed surfing. And I love the ocean, being out in the ocean is just a different world.” Even though she wasn’t able to surf so far east, as a skater, Reed was able to continue to improve her surfing skills, preparing herself for what was ahead. 


San Diego, California  

A year ago, Reed moved back to Southern California and has lived all around San Diego. Once she moved back, she started surfing again. And while Reed has spent the last year longboarding, she has recently decided to go back to shortboarding as well. When re-starting her shortboarding career after almost ten years she said, “I was a little nervous at first because it’s been so long since I’ve been on a shortboard. But then I took it out there and I was like, ‘Whoa,’ I missed this little short thing. So now I go back and forth.”