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!
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