Don't Wait For The Waves [or your friends]
There is a lot of talk about catching 'The Perfect Wave' in the surfing world. To the adept surfer, this may be the ultimate goal, but to the beginner surfer, 'Catching ANY wave'is much more realistic than attempting to catch anything that could be considered 'perfect' [after watching numerous surf documentaries and reading interviews, nobody can really agree on what the 'perfect wave'is anyway...so at this point, consider any wave that doesn't land you in the hospital to be 'perfect'].
The goals of any beginner surfer should be simple: Catch a wave. [but can be complicated by additional goals such as: getting an even tan, ignoring that strange burning sensation that occurs in certain areas after soaking in salt water for an hour, and swearing you put your car keys in your shoe before you went into the water]
Catching a wave for the beginner surfer, in any capacity, can be an exhilirating [and exhausting] experience. Expending every last ounce of energy paddling out just to get thrown off your board and tossed like a salad into the kelp forest amongst the grouper and beach trash [used condoms? really!?*]. It can take a lot out of you, and it's not unusual to drag yourself out after an hour - bumped, bruised, and a little bit defeated.
*Pro Tip* Don't Try it. Sex on the beach may be a delicious drink and it may look romantic to try, like in that movie 'Jaws', but it leaves sand in as many awful places as you can imagine, and in some you can never think of. And the potential for lost cell phones is off the charts. Sand paper is used to remove varnish from antique furniture for a reason.
But don't let that feeling of defeat leave you discouraged. it happens to us all! It'll take a few more lessons to challenge kelly Slater!
What kept me from staying out in the water any longer on my first few attempts was my inability to continue fighting through the breakers. i felt like my arms had skipped that 'gonna fall off'stage and went straight to 'have been removed from my body'. Now, I'm not the poster boy of health and fitness, but i'm no elephant man. I'm fairly fit [read: skinny], yet i was completely exhausted after only an hour. This was extremely discouraging as I hadn't yet been sponsored by Roxy. So what do I do?
I went out early one morning on a day that had absolutely no surf.
To a surfer, this might sound like a complete waste of time, but for a beginner surfer, I found it to be extremely beneficial as I was given the opportunity to work on my paddling and arm strength without having to fight waves all day, and while riding an 8 1/2 foot sponge board may make you look like a total mook on a typical day, today it will give you a few moments of satisfaction while you're cruising around on backwash!
I chose to go out alone on a quiet day. Not to be anti-social, as surfing can be an extremely social activity both on the beach and off, but to avoid the pressure that sometimes mounts when you feel like you're getting in the way of other people who may be taking this a little more seriously than you should be. Nobody will be rushing you off the waves [or lack thereof] and you can really take your time to focus on yourself and what you need to concentrate on in order to be more prepared the next time you head out for the upcoming swell [and this will help you avoid the extremely crass name calling you will surely endure...so going out alone will do nothing for your ability to take an embarrasing verbal beatdown].
And don't get frustrated that you aren't hanging ten yet. Building up the skills and the strength takes some time and effort. If you aren't enjoying yourself at the beach just paddling around in the waves, then this may not be the sport for you. The simplicity and serenity of a flat quiet day bobbing in the ocean alone can do miracle work for a brain that can't slow down [and i have a feeling if you're reading a beginners guide to surfing written by a beginner, you're having trouble putting the brakes on]. Even for a guy like me who tends to wake up five minutes later than he's supposed to be at work can find plenty of positive energy from waking up early for a surf session before work. Everything just seems easier after you've enjoyed the simple pleasure for the day. [here's a link to some 'zen'type of site that lists some mental and physical health benefits of surfing http://zentofitness.com/riding-waves-to-a-happier-healthier-life/ it means well, and if you have ever been even a little bit curious about yoga or mediation, surfing on a quiet day is a great excuse to explore the benefits of both without being labeled a 'frutcake''hippy''fag'or 'granola guy [or gal..but i don't know how much negative stigma there is for females interested in yoga and meditation, and i'm under the firm belief that if there is a nice girl out there looking to learn how to
surf, there are plenty of nice [and not so nice] guys out there willing to take the time to teach them, and they won't need to waste their time reading this] [nobody has used 'granola' as an insult since the seventies...so if you're not over 40, just forget all about that]
So go on out there and paddle around! It won't hurt your style, and will allow you to concentrate on what's important for the next big swell - riding those waves!
*Disclaimer* I have never been or claimed to be extreme or alternative in any way. I generally can't resist things that look like too much fun, and get around to them way after they're cool. I grew up in a cave and had no knowledge of the outside world up until last week. And this is where the journey begins...
I decided that this year I was going to give surfing a try. Nothing inside of me would indicate that I would have any ability (naturally or otherwise) or knack for the sport, but it sounded like fun, and I live by the ocean...so it seemed to make sense.
Lesson 1: start today.
I've lived in southern California for nearly four years now and have barely stepped foot in the Pacific Ocean. I would laer find out that this was a terrible mistake. For all the grains of sand that will eventually end up in my car/hair/bed - the experiences are more than worth it.
Lesson 2: make friends that you can borrow shit from.
Nothing keeps someone from trying something out like the lack of available equipment. Fortunately for surfers in southern California...for the most part all you really need is a giant floating board with fins glued to it (and a wet suit for half of the year...so hopefully you are REALLY close to your friends, because you're going to get to know their bodily fluids intimately at this point).
For my 27th birthday I was finally able to convince one of my more experienced surfer friends to take me out to a little beach down the street called 'El Porto' just outside of Manhattan Beach. A small beach community founded in 1911 full of a handful of people and a section of oil refineries and a water processing plant. 'El Porto' means 'The Port' in Spanish.
It's a small beach, nothing special, especially on this lazy Saturday afternoon, but apparently that is just perfect for someone like myself with absolutely no experience or skill. The perfect mix of zero d-bags to cause trouble, and absolutely no chicks to embarrass myself in front of, it's a beginners playground!
*Tip* The wetsuit is a great idea...even on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in May I thought I could handle the water, but after ten minutes even my doctor would have mistaken my balls for tonsils. Suck it up, you won't look cool anyway.
Lesson 3: have fun
The idea on this first outing wasn't to make a fool of Kelly Slater (although, I'm pretty sure if he were there I could have punked him hard....way hard...then stole his girlfriend and dropped her off ten blocks from her apartment just so she knew who she was dealing with and she could think about that as she walked home...in heels...that i taped to her feet). Anyway, the idea is just to get into the water, watch what other people are doing and try and stay alive. No surfer was any better after they died, that just isn't the way it works. I got a couple of good goes at some waves, but never successfully caught one (except for that one time i stood up, but I don't think anyone would consider that 'surfing'...'floating for a moment' is a better way to describe it). But I did get decent position on a wave and instead of fucking the whole thing up by awkwardly scrambling to my feet, I just sat back (literally, sat my ass right there on the board like i was watching tv) and just enjoyed the feeling of a free ride to shore.
That was it. I was finished. I scooped up the 8 foot foam costco board* and took to the beach.
*Tip* Now this may sound dumb, but the board i borrowed was probably the cheapest biggest board anyone has ever made...ever. It looks like a bath toy for baby Shaq. This thing is 8 feet long easily and bright blue foam rubber. I look like a clown out there, but I noticed some benefits of that board that I'll discuss later. Let me just be happy with my success (or lack there of) at this point.
So that was surfing day 1. I went out there, got wet, got real tired, and then made an ass out of myself on the beach while catching some sweet late afternoon rays. I realized my balance is far less than superior and my arms are weaker than a flipper baby, but the feeling is all i was working toward, and with that I found the day to be a success.
*Tip* For those of you that actually get laid (not a thing I have to worry a whole lot about...not because I'm not cool or great looking or rich or anything like that....but...you know...i got too much uh.....you know...writing and business to attend to), girl on top for the next few days. Your arms and knees are gonna be feelin' it from all that paddlin and board straddlin you'll be doin while you're out there. Besides, you won't need to do any work once all the babes find out you're a totally rad surfer dude now!
This isn't my last time, I'll be back for round #2 (I mean to say, I intend on getting back out there, now in the unfortunate circumstance that I get hit by a bus or eaten by a sea squid or something and this is my final testament to my lifestyle....disregard that last statement and just remember that i got laid....a lot! in fact i'm just going to go ahead and order up a headstone just in case...fill in the appropriate dates if you could be so kind...thanks)
this is a good blog, i am a ryter now. gernalism is a bunch of funs.