Over the past 12 months these are the ten things I learned about surfing that no one really pre-warned me about...now you know!
1) Washing machines – when you wipe out and get spun around underwater. I did not know this was a thing until I had my first spin cycle, I crapped my pants and couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t come straight up. In short, I did not enjoy it! Now I like to open my eyes as I spin around in a ball and have a peek around me. Not sure if knowing what a washing machine was would have made the first one any better but there you go!
2) It’s winter – just wear a hood! Yes, they are damned awkward to get on and squash your face but these things are a game changer when the temperatures drop. I’m all about longevity – so if it helps me stay in the water longer, I’m wearing it! Leave the ice-cream brain freeze to your little niece/nephew when they forgot how cold that ice-cream they were eating actually was!
3) Ear Plugs – whilst we are on the subject of surf attire lets talk about ear plugs. If you thought surfer’s ear was a case of you surf a lot, get water in your ear and get a bit of earache…. think again! Google Surfers Ear and have a read, and then google again and buy yourself some earplugs! (Aside – am I only the anatomy geeks that thinks it’s pretty epic that the bone inside your ear can keep growing?!)
4) When you take off on a green wave the nose of your board will point downwards…just pop up and look where you are going and it’s WAY less scary. I mean duh gravity! But seriously, when I first started going for green waves I was crapping it about the angle the board was suddenly at, didn’t pop up and had some epic nose dives (good job the washing machines were under control by then – see point one!) Surf instructors had never mentioned this, I think rather key point, when we were in white water… along with the fact you are now no longer heading in a straight line for the beach! As I tell myself now… JUST FLIPPING WELL POP UP!!!!
5) Learn how to read the Surf Forecast as soon as you can. That way you don’t have to keep calling the surf hire where you are going and pester them about it! Yes, ask questions and get local insights, but also make the effort to figure stuff out yourself. The sooner you do this, the less chance you have of missing a surfing window of opportunity!
6) Early morning obsessions with surf webcams – I know I’m a yogi so what I’m about to say is all wrong, but honestly, I don’t even really like early mornings! At least I didn’t, and then I discovered surfing (and did point 5). Now I love nothing more than brewing a pot of fresh coffee at stupid o clock am whilst I look at various surf web cams and decide where’s best to go… night owls if you take up surfing you have been forewarned!
7) Fitness – I’m a runner so I think this was less of an issue for me, but seriously I heard people saying a number of times you don’t need to be fit to surf. I’m sorry, it’s a blatant lie! You need to be fit to paddle well and not get tired (note – you have to paddle to get outback, you need to paddle (hard!) to catch waves, you will get thrown around and have to get back on your board, you will then love surfing so much you want to repeat this cycle many times during one surf session… see where I’m coming from here? Swimming will help with paddling and cardio fitness, yoga if you are inflexible, strength work, mobility…. Getting surf fit ultimately means more waves. So, you know what to do!
8) When something scary happens ask what you can learn from it? There’s always going to be a first time that something new happens – washing machine, taking off on a bigger wave than before… Figure out if you are scared because it’s new and different, or were you out of your depth? What steps can you take to feel comfortable if happens again? E.g. If you were scared in the water, would swimming or doing lifesaving training help? Bigger waves – know your limits, did you try and leap before you could jump? You get the idea. Fear is not necessarily a bad thing – how you react (or don’t react) to it can be though!
9) Progress is not linear. Ok so this one sucks let’s be honest. You thought you were improving and then you have a session (a week/month…) where you seriously question whether you have ever actually been on a board before! Surfing is joyous but it is also expert at kicking the ego’s ass! Be humble, keep showing up and trust the process. You will improve!
10) Last but not least, when it’s good surfing will literally make you shriek out loud with joy mid wave. Trust me, in this life we all need moments that make us whoop with happiness even as an adult! And you know what they say…the best surfer out there is the one who’s having the most fun! (So, I guess I’m expert then right?!)