How Not To Learn How To Surf (Part 2)
I’ve heard it said before that sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is to immediately find out what not to do, then figure the rest out as you go.
The verdict is in: learning to surf on a surfboard is just as hard as learning to surf on a paddle board. In fact, it may even be harder.
The smaller the board gets, the less stability you have simply floating around, let alone actually surfing. While it is true that, like a bike, the faster you go the more stable it gets, that’s the last step. There are probably 10 more steps before you get to that point. A smaller board also means that you can’t paddle as fast. And it shows. You need to paddle fast to get on the wave, but more importantly, you need to paddle fast to get OUT of the waves. When you can’t move quickly, you tend to find out a lot about the mechanics of the waves. Up close and personal.
It’s unstable, harder to stand up, and harder to paddle, but at least you can attempt to duck-dive underneath the waves! It’s exciting to have a new tool to use in your quest to avoid drowning, up until the point at which you attempt to use it for the first time. More than likely, you and your board get thrown backwards into two backflips with a 540 incorporated. If there were judges, they would be impressed. Rather quickly, you learn that timing is just as important as the nuanced technique.
As you’re getting thrown back, your foot gets dragged across the reef. This brings a new term into the lexicon: starfishing.
Starfishing: When you are getting pummeled by a wave but trying to keep your body horizontal, arms and legs outstretched, so you don’t hit the reef.
It’s almost like trying to make a snow-angel while facedown in rapidly moving water. This technique successfully protects your torso, but it won’t protect your hands and feet from getting mauled by the reef. For that, you need booties and gloves, but let’s not be dweebs.
Your board is still your best friend/worst enemy. It will tell you which way is up, provide you with a means of getting out of the break, and eventually it’s used for surfing. It will also pull you back into the break if a wave catches it, slip between your legs when you fall, **ouch** and slyly wait until you just surfaced and start gasping for air before the leash pulls tight and it rockets back at you, nearly breaking your nose. Yeah. That happened.
After a week of surfing every single day, you feel like you went to battle with a wild animal... and lost. Everyone waddles back inside with claw marks across their feet, gashes down their thighs, stripes across their torso, and dozens of slits on their fingers. But it was fun. It was entertaining. It was terrifying. And I still can’t do it.