Photo essay: How Pirates Surf Rescue aims to change the lives of children

Started in 2010, the academy has evolved from being an activities programme to becoming a community

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Candy Fanucci only had five students – one of whom was her own daughter – when she created Pirates Surf Rescue Academy in 2010.

However, in the years since, the programme that began at Dubai’s Kite Beach has grown to become so much more.

“Pirates Surf started in 2010 with a view of creating a unique lifestyle and fitness programme but more importantly to build a community that would give families a sense of belonging,” Fanucci says.

In addition to expanding to Abu Dhabi, Pirates Surf Rescue now has more than 40 coaches teaching children active skills such as paddle boarding, surfing and rescue. However, Fanucci also aims to build a caring community of children who not only have fun but also grow into considerate adults who look after the planet and each other.

“We have grown faster than I could ever have imagined due to it being an organic and original, heartfelt programme,” she says.

Beyond the activities, Pirates Surf Rescue also has a corporate social responsibility programme that includes helping to build a school in Sri Lanka and developing marine conversation projects.

She says the programme is open to everyone, offering seven training sessions a week for students aged 4 to 99. In January, they will launch a racquet academy.

Although Fanucci didn't know where the programme would lead back in 2010, she says she can't imagine doing anything else.

“Pirates is truly my life. It’s something that means more to me than I can ever begin to explain to anyone,” she says.

“It’s taken years of being at every single session to make what it is today. I get to change lives for the better, to give meaning and a sense of belonging to hundreds of people. What more could any human being ask for?”

Updated: December 15, 2023, 6:01 PM