Greater L.I. takes to the sea with online startup, Smart Wave Lessons


Great Ideas |

Thomas Waga wanted to share his passion for surfing with others. 

And, he thought he could make some money doing it.

So he papered his East Northport neighborhood with poster boards he ordered advertising surf lessons, along with his phone number.

Then he waited for his phone to ring. 

“I figured, worst case scenario I lose the $150″ he had spent on the posters, he said. “It seemed like a simple idea.”

It worked.

He made his money back 10-fold, conducting nearly a dozen lessons at Robert Moses Field 2 last year.

The enterprising 25-year-old has since launched an online booking website he hopes will take off in the U.S. and beyond as a resource for anyone, anywhere, looking for an action sports lesson.

This season alone, more than 30 lessons have been booked through Smart Wave Lessons’ website,

But that’s not enough for Waga.

A couple hundred wouldn’t be enough.

“I’m not building a platform so a few buddies and I can offer surf lessons,” he told us. ”I want this to be used nationally and internationally. You just plug in a location, pick an instructor and pick your activity.”

“If you want to learn how to play baseball there’s a million leagues out there,” he went on to explain. “But if you want to learn how to skateboard, that’s not as readily available anywhere.”

He said other New York area companies do online bookings, but those are mainly in groups and confined to one sport.

The idea with Smart Wave is to offer personalized lessons for an array of extreme or action sports such as surfing, bodyboarding, BMXing, skateboarding and more.

As of now, the bodyboard and surf lessons Swart Wave currently offers last for either an hour or half hour, with boards and wetsuits (for later in the season) included. There’s also an option for drone footage.

GreaterBayShore’s Michael White and Matt White took lessons last month at Moses, where Waga spent time coaching us both on the beach — before heading into the ocean. Check out our first attempt:

Once out on the water, Waga watches you and action and adjusts your methods as you attempt to ride waves.

But the most helpful part, perhaps, is that he identifies which waves might be rideable — and when aspiring surfers need to start paddling hard against the riptide’s pull. And when to pop up.

(We never got fully up. Waga says it typically takes about three or four lessons.)

”The people who pick it up quickest are normally kids, because overthinking is the main thing that causes people to fall,” he said.

But if you’re ever going out on your own, Waga has this advice:

“Know your limits and don’t go out on a huge day for waves. Go with friends. Make sure there’s a lifeguard when you first go out.

“And start small.”

Click here to follow Smart Wave Lessons on Instagram. Here for Facebook. There’s also a fledgling YouTube channel.

Click here for pricing and to book a lesson.

Nick Ruggiero of North Babylon and Thomas Waga of East Northport, both of Smart Wave Lessons, with Matt White of Greater Long Island Media Group at Robert Moses.