I’ve always harboured a secret belief that I’d be pretty okay at surfing. It looks pretty easy, right? I’m comfortable in the ocean, can balance okay and seem to be able to swim. Sorted, what else do you need to surf?
The more I spoke to people out here the more my confidence in my future potential skill dropped. It seemed like surfing might not be something I’d pick up right away. Surfing, apparently, is rather difficult to learn.
Byron Bay is the home of surf schools in Australia so I couldn’t live here and not have a lesson. Waking up one morning, still drunk from the previous evening, I decided that today would be the day. With goon still boiling in my blood stream this seemed like one of the best ideas I’d ever had (and I once decided to sleep sitting up so I wouldn’t have to re-do my hair and makeup the next day. True story. It didn’t work).
Unfortunately about an hour after booking my session I sobered up, fell asleep and had to drag myself to the lesson with my head swimming as much as my stomach. I was about to learn to surf, a sport that requires quite a large amount of physical exertion, on the crest of my hangover as it broke and churned through my body and brain.
In other words, I could’ve picked a better day.
Things started well, on dry land. It turns out I surf ‘goofy’ with my feet the wrong way around. With sand under my board I popped up and down like a pro until my legs were wobbly and I tried to micro nap as the instructor was talking about rip currents. Jesus, I was already exhausted and we weren’t even wet yet. We had to do yoga to limber up. Yoga. I needed to be eating bacon and watching Gossip Girl in bed, not bloody exercising.
Getting out was harder than surfing. My leg rope thing wasn’t quite long enough to allow me to move my back leg as I held the front of the board. Cue me half hopping, half lurching Quasimodo-style into the breaking waves. Oh, I thought, this bodes well.
I almost got up on my first wave. On my second I stood for a total of two seconds before plummeting arse first into the water. My third wave tipped me in after I tried to avoid a fellow student. But on my fourth wave I did it. I stood up, properly. In my head I had Quicksilver calling to sponsor me. Not once did I wobble or worry, maintaining a perfect position until I stepped off the board when the water was ankle deep. Perfect.
Hmm. Never had the phrase ‘peaking too soon’ been used so well. Subsequent attempts saw me standing for a few seconds at most; on one particular try I went from crouching to kneeling to hitting the water head first in one beautifully elegant movement.
“Yeah,” quipped Simon my instructor, ” I thought you were too far forward, but figured it’d be funny to watch you fall in.”
Worry not, I dealt with the whole experience with typical good humour. I mean, come on, it’s bloody hilarious when people fall over even when ‘people’ is you. And I did manage to stand up slightly more towards the end, a whole 3 seconds at one point!
As the lesson concluded everyone else got out of the ocean but I was beckoned back in for one last go. I was thirsty, exhuasted and my legs felt burned to ash from battling to get out through the breakers. With the beach watching Simon asked me to hop on for one last try. I heard him yell, “Dude remember that you’re AWESOME,” as he pushed me through the foam towards potential glory…
I’d like to conclude this post by saying that I rode the wave triumphantly towards the shore, fists pumping to the sound of cheers but that would be a fabrication. I fell off almost instantly and almost couldn’t stand back up from laughing. It seems I don’t flourish under pressure.
My problem obviously stems from scuba diving; I want to be under waves not on them. And being hungover too. Not my fault. Ahem. I doubt I’ll ever be a sunstreaked blonde with salt behind her ears up at dawn to catch waves but I’m going to go back and try again. Why? Because although I failed miserably it was a lot of bloody fun. Oh, and because some comfort came from Simon in the pub later on: “You’re not the worst person we’ve ever had, honestly!”
I’d like to test that theory.