Friday, July 24, 2009

Surfing Lessons

Another activity I wanted to try is surfing. So today, Mai, Charles, Diana, and I drove over to Cocoa Beach, FL to take a group lesson. Our executive summary is: we had fun, but not enough so that we're going to buy a board and take it up as a hobby.

The lesson started with some safety information, about rip tides, jellyfish, and sting rays, and then we practiced getting up on the board. The motion isn't too difficult: you lay on the board with your hands at your ribs, do a pushup while looking up and sliding your feet forward into a crouch, stabilize, and then stand up (keeping knees bent). We tried a few times in a building before walking over to the beach.

As beginners, we were given foam surf boards. Really long ones. Mine was probably 9 feet tall or so, which made it a bit unwieldy! The foam boards are softer so they don't hurt as much if they bang into you, and they are wider/longer for better stability. Afterwards I asked about the fiberglass surfboards and the instructor said those turn and slide through the water faster, which makes them tougher to learn on.

We practiced hopping up on the boards for a few more minutes, and then headed out into the water. Once out there floating on our boards, the instructor would hold us still while we got ready, and then helped launch us as a wave came by.

All of us had our share of falls, but over the two hour lesson, we each had a few successful rides to shore - stood up and surfed in for a few seconds at least! We would take turns and move back for more.

The unexpected thing for me was how tiring it was getting back out from the shore. Those long foam boards proved to be a challenge to move through the swells, on the way back out. To get decent practice, we were far enough out where the water was almost over our heads, and a few times I was swept off my feet towards the beach. Hopping on and paddling all the way out also proved tiring. I felt wimpy because we were in small waves, probably four feet at the most, and I'm sure serious surfers wouldn't even consider what we tried as surfing at all. We were on the skiing equivalent of a bunny slope the entire time, but at least at a ski resort a lift takes you back up. I can see why surfers work up a huge appetite after a few hours, given the work involved in getting back out for more!

After we finished up with the lesson and rinsed off the salt water, we ate lunch at a nearby taco stand, and went back to the beach for a bit. We walked back out in the water and had a great time just bouncing up and down with the waves - almost as fun as surfing with a lot less effort. ;) Well that isn't fair, I'd try it again if the opportunity came up. But I think I'd be more likely to get a boogie board, for riding waves.

Surf School
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
I'm a graduate! Along with Mai, Charles, and Diana.

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