2011/08/24

No hodad

I never knew I had a jones for surfing. I had always admired the skill. I've enjoyed watching people do it well. I'd used a boogie board a few times, so I knew what a thrill it was to be pushed along, sometimes quickly, by wave power. But actually learning to surf hadn't occurred to me.

Until it struck me.

In most of the places you go surfing, the water is cold. Nay, frigid. A lot of surfers go to the outer coast of Vancouver Island, but when they go in, they wear wet suits. I've worn a wet suit. I hate wet suits. I also hate cold water. I admit it. When it comes to putting my body in water, I am a wuss. But the ocean water you find in places like the Caribbean and Hawaii are a whole 'nother story.

In the Caribbean, Sweetie and I did some scuba diving. In Hawaii, we've done snuba (diving with a hose) and snorkeling. You wear a T-shirt at most over your swim suit, and that's mostly so you won't get a sunburn. That's the water for me.

When we were exploring things to do during our stay on Kauai, learning to surf grabbed me. I was going to stop just watching. I was going to do it myself. So yesterday morning, I found myself at Hanalei Pier with several other surfing students and three instructors.

Standing up on a surf board is difficult. Or rather, I should say that getting it right is difficult. The technique is quite simple. Lie down on the board, toes near but not over the back. Finding the right position on the board takes a bit of practice. Then do a push-up off your knees. Crawl your knees forward until they're right between your hands. With your hands still on the board, lift your left knee and plant your foot just in front of your hands, mostly sideways, centred on the stringer (centre line of the board). Then lift your right knee and do the same with your right foot, back where it already is. Lift yourself from that crouch into a (mostly) standing position, shoulders turned toward the front, eyes ahead, not on the board.

(Left foot forward is the usual position, but some people are what the instructors call "goofy footed," with right foot forward. You want your stronger leg in back.)

You want to try to do all that fairly quickly, especially when you're riding the small waves we were for practice. And of course you have to keep your balance once you're up—not too far forward, not too far back. There were three kids in our group, and they would just hop right up and have a great ride. It helps to have a low centre of gravity! But all of us succeeded in standing and even having short but nice rides.

The school allowed us to keep surfing for a couple of hours after the lesson. I wish grandma hadn't already been fairly worn out. But if I had stayed out for more time, I'd be feeling it today even more than I am. I didn't know just how physically demanding surfing is! Did you know you have muscles that run from your shoulders down the outside of your upper arms? They seem to be the ones involved in paddling. Ouch! And I'm sore right under my ribcage. I'm not sure what that's about, but maybe it's from getting up off the board. And my tailbone is sore. I wiped out backward once (as you can see in the picture), and the water was rather shallow.

Last year, I did something I thought I couldn't do: I learned to play drums. I realized that surfing was about meeting another challenge. I didn't think I could stand up on a board. I learned to do it. And I had a total blast! I know I'm going to be back on a board—at least the next time I'm someplace where the water is not cold. I want to get better at standing, learn better balance, and take on bigger waves. Who knows. Maybe I'll even learn to like cold water and wet suits! Maybe.

3 comments:

Aerin said...

You forgot the part where you explain what "no hodad" means!

Anji said...

Anyone can do anything. You seem to be proving it.

Jillian Page said...

Absolutely lovely!