Surfin’ USA!

Surfing is one of the many great sports you can do along the shores of the USA. I personally preferred the surf in California and the Pacific over the one you find in Florida, along the Atlantic, but the experience is still great when you have found the right spot to do it! This entry is cumulative and from different beach days with my friends from UF navigators and the pharmacy interns.

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.

Conny gives it a try as well :)

Cocoa Beach

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… 🙂

Go Gators

Florida Spring Break – Good Times!

Spring Break must not neccessarily be a party overkill. I experienced some great beach days, with good live acts with my friends over here and they were all unforgettable. And as long as I hit the Atlantic I continued to learn surfing. It works actually alright and I am satisfied with my progress – as of now I am a four-timer on the board and I have no intention to stop learning it 🙂

Spring Break in Clearwater Beach

Although I never intended to take part in the Floridan Spring Break at Panama City Beach, there are different locations along the coasts which are equally entertaining and relaxing, compared to the crowded party beaches of the Panhandle. Ruben, Mareike, Starlight, Julia and me head to Clearwater Beach, to find something in between, a mixture of good nightlife and a decent beach to hang out at daytime. And all of that is so much fun in a nice group, willing to experience a good life.

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First of all we hit St. Petersburg Beach, which is obviously beautiful but mainly crowded with old people and families. It’s more the kind of beach you would have a look for attending as a couple or a family. Our way from there to Clearwater Beach in front of Tampa takes us another two hours, we have not been the only ones with the idea of a pristine day at the beach… But when we reach it finally we still hava a great day and of course, as it is gold standard at the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, a great sunset.

Sunset at Clearwater Beach, at the Gulf of Mexico

Goede avond Ruben!

As I find out at dinner pizza Chicago style is really enjoyable. We have to prolong our beach stay a bit since the street is totally blocked by cars, this time heading back to the mainland. Most of the more affordable hotels are on the mainland and a night directly at the beach is not affordable at all, prices start around $160 for a room per night in places you would normally pay $30 if they would be located elsewhere. Our program for the night: Attending the Shepard’s Beach Resort where Vanilla Ice gives a concert this night. Our way to celebrate Spring Break. On our way back to the car, a moving performance of The Wandering Madman really touches me – goosebumps! – check out all of his music on his website and on youtube for free! What a great voice and what a laid back dude – I already experienced so many great artists, free of cover, in bars, on the streets, in wagons like this time, everywhere and all over the USA. It is really awesome!

We reach our hotel and just have 45 min. to get done and back to the hotel, where Vanilla Ice performs this night. Ruben made a small mistake booking the hotel tho. Our reservation is for the upcoming weekend and so we are without a place for the night. Luckily the shabbier motel next door has a place left. We have a quick “shower race”, about 3 min. for everyone, to get prepared. We “succeed” in staying on time and head back to the show. And I promise you, this show was really great and it’s often like that, you don’t expect anything great, then it becomes great!

Vanilla Ice performing some of his older songs

Vanilla Ice was born on Thangsgiving 1967 and loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles, that’s what we learn when he talks a bit about his songs he performs. He is in the mid fourties, his biggest hit Ice, Ice Baby is dated back to 1991, but he still is able to deliver a great show like that. Unexpected, great! Some party equipment is thrown into the crowd, some ladies enter the floor and soon afterwards the party really kicks off…

The girls go Spring Break crazy

It lasts until 3 a.m., an hour longer than elsewhere. It’s fun and we return back to the hotel totally tired but satisfied. The next morning starts with a big breakfast at IHOP, the rest of the day we lie around at the beach, enjoy it and try to not eat too much sand, since the wind is strong and the fine, white sand is everywhere!

Clearwater Beach

I have learned from my first beach days this year, use sunscreen LPF 50 now and enjoy the sun. But it’s still too much, after some hours I surrender and enjoy the show of some tourists, trying their best to stand up on the standing wave inside of one of the entertainment centers at the beach.

When we reach Gainesville at night, we have a decent BBQ. And on our way back we bought some cool $5 shirts at Walmart for the upcoming St. Paddy’s day the next day…

Spring Break in Daytona and Cocoa Beach – Surfing the tide of the Atlantic

Daytona Beach was once a popular location for Spring Break, this is long time ago. It is still a beautiful beach with very fine sand. I meet up early in the morning with my friends from the UF Navigators, Conny and Theresa from Austria, Nasa and Aicha from France. We take a rental car together and pick it up really early the morning. Gainesville really seems asleep at this time (7.30 a.m.).

A random wall painting I took a photo of in the early morning

Our ride to the beach takes a bit but we manage to get there before luchtime. It is a very beautiful day but the conditions on the water, the waves in Daytona, are tough to manage for a beginner like me. It was much easier to surf in the Pacific…

The day flies by in a second and I am eager to go to the beach again. After all it’s weekend and I like it more to go to the beach at daytime and skip the party at night in return. It’s so much more rewarding.

The next day I visit the beach with some other friends, Martin from Switzerland, Sharvari, Adriely, and Virat. They are colleagues of mine and we start again early in the morning to Cocoa Beach  close to Cape Canaveral. The beach has not such fine white sand as many others I visited in Florida and California, but the swell is really good to surf! Stephan, my former instructor from my times as intern here, his little daughter, Ben, a former colleague of mine and his girlfriend already await us.

Martin and me borrow a board and start right away. We have to bring it back several times until I find the perfect size, 8’6″. I teach Martin a bit and he really does good standing up on a big board. I go to watch El Classico in the meanwhile. The end of the day I surf, when the others are for dinner and I stand up everytime now. Too sad I am too busy with surfing to take pictures… It was great and I am in a spree to learn it properly now – a worthy alternative to snowboarding I have to say and since the Atlantic is already quite warm and the sun does the best to impress, we had another great day at the beach! This is how Spring Break can look as well. Thanks to all of you guys for the great time, the funny conversations and all the action – Really enjoyed it and we should do more of such stuff in our limited time over here!