Although I love the beach, the conditions required to actually get me into the water need to be pretty specific: hot weather, warm water and I have to be in the mood for a swim. As those of you familiar with Victorian weather can attest, those first two conditions can be pretty… sporadic. (Yes, I know I could suck it up and swim anyway.) So I secretly booked us all surfing lessons as Christmas presents for when we would be in Queensland late last year, figuring that it would be a perfect time and place.
I revealed my surprise to a range of reactions, from scepticism (Adam) to confidence (Riley had gone on a surf camp with school earlier in the year). and made sure we arrived on the day in plenty of time to make the class. It took place at the very top of The Spit at the Gold Coast, a very popular and busy spot just up the road from Sea World. We had an hour to kill and went for a stroll along the part of the beach where dogs are allowed off the leash, delightedly running in and out of the waves. I was already sunburned from previous days spent at the theme parks, so hid under two beach towels and watched photos shoots take place, where poor assistants struggled with the light reflectors in the wind.
Finally, it was time and we went and lathered up with another layer of sunscreen, met our instructor, collected our boards and headed off to the beach. I don’t have any nice photos from my iPhone from this part of the day as it was strongly recommended we leave our valuables in the car. We kept the GoPro, though, as you’ll see from the video.
We spent the first fifteen minutes in the sort of way you see on TV – on the beach, practising the manoeuvres that get you up on your feet on the board quickly. At least, it happened that way for some. Not me. I’m quite ambidextrous. I’m left-handed, but do a lot of things right-handed. And sometimes, like when I bat for cricket, I can’t decide. Both sides feel right on different days. So when we were instructed to choose our dominant leg, I looked down and went… ‘hmmmm, well, which is it?’ The sequence we were taught depended a lot on that knowledge and as a result of my indecision I fell behind in the instruction. Before I really had a handle on what I’d thought I’d do we were heading off into the (surprisingly brisk) water.
The swell was perfect. We had to wait a few minutes sometimes, but the waves were enough to push us along, nothing intimidating. I was happy at chest height. The kids did well – Keira particularly so. If a student mastered standing up a few times in a row, they had the option to surf by themselves nearby, still close to the group where the instructors could keep an eye on them. Keira was one of those pupils by the end of the class.
Not me. No, sirree. Although I DID MANAGE TO GET UP ON MY FEET AND SURF PROPERLY ONCE. This video doesn’t document that moment – alas. But you see me on one of my attempts where I get up onto my knees. I a bit more of an understanding now why people love it so much, even before I’ve experienced anything like what a ‘real’ surfer would. It’s the precision of a movement that yields something fun and quite unique. The wave I managed to catch didn’t look like that much of a good prospect, and yet another I felt would be great dumped me within seconds. Lots of little lessons in a short amount of time. I recommend it.
If you’ve missed them, you see more of my Living List items here.