Sunday, January 18, 2009

If you can stand up, that's surfing!

On January 12th CanTeen Bay of Plenty had their monthly activity - SURFING - at Mount Maunganui. I've only tried surfing twice in my life. The first time was quite exciting and I was keen to learn. I spent most of my day just paddling out and riding waves in on my tummy pushing myself up onto my knees. It was challenging to say the least. I would guess it would be much easier learning to surf when you're young and nimble.

The second time I went surfing I experienced my first washing machine effect. That's what they call it when you get dumped by a big wave and you get disoriented under the water and have no idea which way is up. You usually swallow buckets of salt water in the process so that when you finally do surface, you are coughing and sputtering. It's really scary.

This was my third surfing attempt, nearly 3 years after my last. I am much more flexible now that I've been doing yoga for a year and a half so I figured it might be a tad easier. Plus we were renting these MASSIVE boards for first time learners... so it HAD to be easier! Dan, the Member Support Manager for Waikato/BOP gave us all a few pointers and we practiced going from lying to standing on our boards on the sand. That seemed easy enough...

So off we trodded into the rolling waves - perfect for learning how to surf. They were big enough to catch but small enough that if you fell off you wouldn't experience the washing machine. Now let me just say that although the waves look teensy... when one is approaching... it looks really big! I do not know how serious surfers get the courage to tackle those massive tubes. I can't even imagine what the washing machine would feel like when you get dumped by a wave that size!

When you're first learning to surf, the key is to try to get up on your knees and ride the wave. Eventually graduating to getting up on your feet. This isn't as easy as it sounds. First you have to paddle out and wait for the right wave. It takes patience. Sometimes you see surfers sitting out on their boards waiting for the perfect wave for AGES! Once you see that wave, you have to start paddlling like mad so that you "catch" it. If you miss it, you will have to wait for the next one... which could take ages again. Once you catch the wave, you then have to try to push yourself up while keeping the board steady. It's strange doing this on a moving board... and it's easy to get freaked out and fall off.

Now when that happens it is VERY important that you know where your surfboard is AT ALL TIMES. I learned this the hard way... because I popped up in front of my board and it hit me smack on the bridge of my nose! It hurt like a bun of a sitch... but I didn't want to make a scene in front of the CanTeeners or make them scared. I literally saw stars... and my nose started bleeding but I just carried on and made light of it... but I had such a headache. It's funny how strong you can be when you want to! If I was there with a friend I probably would have cried. I'm really lucky that I didn't knock any teeth out or break my nose. I hit it hard enough that I actually shifted the septum... but I was able to get it back into place. Don't ask how.

Surfing takes patience to learn but I can see how you can become addicted to the feeling you get riding a wave. Unfortunately for me, by the time I got through all of the steps... steadying myself, pushing up onto my knees, then feet... the wave was over and there was no more momentum pushing my board so I'd fall off just as I was standing up! Frustrating!!! Next time will be better.

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