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Ocean Academy SoCal’s Premier Water Sports Academy

Ocean Academy SoCal’s Premier Water Sports Academy

by Rebecca Parsons

Candice Appleby is one of the most talented waterwoman in the world. She first began surfing at age nine and in her teens, she led San Clemente High to four consecutive national titles. In 2006, she took up standup paddling and since has won six Battle of the Paddle titles, three Pacific Paddle Game titles, was the APP world champion in 2015, has taken home four golds at the ISA World Championships, and was voted the number one female SUP athlete three times. Not only is Appleby a fierce competitor, but she is also kind, compassionate, and is passionate about helping others hone new skills and follow their passions.

Already a part-time coach, Appleby began taking on more coaching clients when the pandemic hit and races were put on hold. She discovered she loved coaching as much as she enjoyed racing. Appleby shares what the Ocean Academy is all about, how her years as a competitive athlete have helped her become a better coach, and why she thinks everyone can benefit from a lesson.

The OA crew, putting in the miles.


What inspired you to start the Ocean Academy? 

I’ve spent my life in the ocean and have been mentored by some incredible surfers and watermen. In my youth, I worked at various surf camps and taught surfing for decades and now, I’ve taught paddleboarding for over a decade. During the pandemic, competition and sponsorships came to a screeching halt. I had already been coaching a few clients, but things kind of snowballed when I made myself available. I found myself loving every minute of time spent with new clients and realized that this was my next chapter, and ultimately my purpose. 

How does your experience as a competitive athlete help you to be a good coach? 

All my years competing have afforded me so many opportunities to learn, gain skills, challenge myself, face fears, overcome, and build character. I think that all these experiences help me to be a good coach because I’ve already walked through the things that I’m preparing my athletes for.

What sets OA apart from other coaching services? 

At Ocean Academy our formula is simple: fun + encouragement = confidence. I believe that if I can help my clients build confidence, then all of the skills will follow. Every person is unique in their abilities, and at Ocean Academy our goal is to help each individual towards their goals, whatever they may be, at a pace that is appropriate to their experience, comfort level, and desires. Ultimately, it’s all about relationships and getting to know each individual to best help them grow in their confidence on the ocean. 

What do you love about coaching? 

I love building relationships with my athletes and helping them gain confidence on the ocean and in themselves. It’s more than just surfing or paddleboarding-coaching is an honor and a privilege. I get to build trust with people and help them work towards their goals, while also helping them face their fears along the way. 

What have been some events OA has been a part of? 

We love to support local paddling events here in southern California like the Dana Point Harbor Hoot, the Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge in San Diego, and we hope to put on some events of our own in the next year. 

Where do you typically do your lessons/coaching sessions? 

The majority of my lessons are based out of Baby Beach in the Dana Point Harbor. From there, we venture outside of the harbor and into the open ocean. I also work with athletes at various beaches in South Orange County. 

Why do you think everyone could benefit from a lesson, regardless of his or her skill level? 

I believe that everyone can benefit from taking lessons with Ocean Academy, or any expert in any sport for that matter. There is always something to learn no matter what level you are at. At Ocean Academy we welcome and train all levels. 

Do you have any coaching success stories you’d like to share? 

I could tell a success story about every Ocean Academy athlete. For some, it’s competing in a big race, paddling a particular distance, or gaining the confidence to paddle outside of the harbor into the big blue waters of the open ocean. Success is measured differently for each individual. 

Do you plan to continue competing? 

I do plan to continue competing, but coaching is my priority. I’m loving this new chapter of my life as a full-time coach. When I get off the water with a client, I’m so happy and fulfilled. I feel like I won a race every time I go to work. I truly love what I do and I hope that it shows. 

What is your hope for the future of OA?

In the short term, I want to continue growing my weekend SUP training club and bring on more experienced instructors to help teach some of the more entry level SUP lessons because currently the demand is higher than I’m able to physically keep up with. In the long term, my ultimate goal is to bring on more athlete-coaches who are experts on the respective ocean discipline and grow Ocean Academy to be the foremost academy for all things ocean.b