Finally a chapter addressing my new hobby: Surfing! By using this term I mean the kind of raw surfing, without a kite, a canvas or anything else. Just you, the board, maybe a lycra to keep you protected from the sun and the sea of course, delivering waves for your enjoyment. I got my first instruction by Tom on Eleuthera Island of the Bahamas, about six years ago, when I stayed at Surfer’s Haven. And he must have done a good job because I didn’t have the opportunity to go out there for years and just started again, in Santa Cruz, on my way to visit a friend in San Francisco, California, a couple of weeks ago. To my surprise I remembered lots of his instructions from the days past and I even stood up for some seconds…
I was eager to continue so I was looking for a beach over here in Florida, where an easy going surf is guaranteed. The place to be is Cocoa Beach indeed from all the places I tried so far, including St. Augustine Beach and Daytona Beach! I tried both with friends, but the tide was choppy and it was exhausting to catch a single wave due to the inconsistency of the waves and the board was probably too small – the equipment is important and you will find everything you desire in Ron Jon’s rental in Cocoa Beach. For beginners I recommend a huge foam longboard. It offers the easiest access and the most fun for your first experience. I use a fiberglass board in the meanwhile of a length of about 8’6″ to 9′. This works really good and I consistently catch the waves and stand up.
I can’t take responsibility for you, learning this awesome sport, where you are totally connected to nature, but I can give you some advice which might help you. For instructions you should still get a teacher to begin with, if he is good he will make sure you stand up the first day you try it!
1. Paddle outta there
Before you can catch a wave, you have to get out into the sea. And to do that can be exhausting, if you are thrown around by the waves. If you have a “neversinker” one of those beginner foamboards, you just have the option, when a big wave comes towards you, to push up on the board or sit up, that it goes under you smoothly towards the beach. If you use a fiberglass board, depending on the size of the wave, you can stretch out and go under the wave, your body under tension. If you have reached a good position, one where the waves just don’t break yet, you sit up on the board, face towards the sea and observe the incoming waves.
2. Find your Balance
This is the most difficult part in the beginning. You have to find the point to sit on the board, which guarantees you most stability. You can “grab” the board with your legs and you will find out pretty fast which is the most stable positions when the waves pass and shake you. If you have spotted a good wave, one that has not yet broken and is consistent, you smoothly glide back on the board, allowing the nose of your board to come out of the water. This way you can turn easily and fast. Remember, the waves cme in pretty fast so you have just little time to make the turn and get into position.
3. Catch the wave
This part of the exercise is probably the best workout. If the wave of your desire comes in you lay down on the board. Make sure, if the board is long enough (which was the case for me all the time), that your feet close with the rear of the board. Keep your tension up and when the wave is behind you – about two board length start paddling, consistently and strong. It’s not necessary to paddle fast, you have to push the water away to make progress and get some speed, you don’t have to mix it up. If you did right you will feel the wave “catching” you or the other way around, you catching the wave. You will then be pushed forward and gain some significant speed.
4. Stand up
For my experience it is not necessary to try to stand up immediately. Give it time! Maybe you glide in, tension up, lying down on your board for the first attempts. You get a good feeling for the stability doing so. If you have the feeling it works to your satisfaction you can start to kneel on the board, face forward to shore. If that works fine as well, without you getting delivered into the sea permanently, you can try to slowly stand up. First of all you will have to find out which of your feet will be in front – this is also important to fixate the line – you do that on your back foot. OK, so far so good! Now you enter a crouch position, with the right foot in front, you have to turn while doing that, from face forward a bit to the side. You will find really good videos on youtube! In this crouch position you will feel it’s less stable than just going in and you might fall into the water. That happens, don’t worry you will get used to the feeling. And if you decide to finally stand up, do it slowly and make sure you stand up over the most stable part of your bard, which I mentioned above. Have fun trying!
As you can see, we all stood up and this entry is TBC, since I miss lots of photos of our second group, the pharmacy interns, when we attended. In the meanwhile enjoy this as a foretaste… 🙂